What is your name, age, and location?
Joanne Feinberg, 50, Ashland, Oregon.
What is your profession?
Director of Programming at the Ashland Independent Film Festival.
What did you study in school and what degrees do you have?
I have a B.F.A. in Cinema Studies and Film Production, from the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University.
What was your first job?
I was a waitress during college at a jazz club in NYC. It was an incredible education in music, and helped put me through school. I can’t say enough about the life skills that being a waitress teaches you! At the same time I had an internship as the Assistant to the Programmer at the Bleecker Street Cinema, an “art house” theater in NYC, back when you could see classic, foreign and indie films on the big screen every night of the week. Breathless followed by Casablanca followed by Cassavetes. It was an amazing education in film history.
Who or what inspired you to break into your current line of work?
I had great professors at NYU and they really opened my eyes to seeing film in a whole new way. George Stoney taught us to view documentary filmmaking as an agent of social change, in a very human way that was unforgettable. My teachers’ excitement about their own work confirmed how much I wanted to make film and filmmaking my career, and they continue to inspire me to this day. When I was a filmmaker/editor in the Bay Area, I was a juror for local film festivals with a group of other filmmakers. We would spend long weekends watching films together. The discussions were exciting, challenging, and some times infuriating, but I loved the process. This experience greatly influenced my interest in becoming involved with the Ashland Independent Film Festival.
Name/describe what has been your most rewarding project so far?
Absolutely my current work at the Ashland Independent Film Festival for the past 7 years… I feel proud to be part of the team that has brought the Festival to the very vital and exciting place where it is now.
Name/describe one incident when being a woman has helped your career?
When I was first starting out, I worked for a number of women who were strongly influenced by the women’s movement in a very positive way when their own careers were taking off. They wanted to hire women and become mentors, and this was very fortunate for me.
Name/describe one incident when being a woman has hindered your career?
As women, I think that part of our cultural training is to put others before us – co-workers, family, children. So I have always had to be aware of setting strong boundaries, and not saying “yes” especially when a very appropriate response would be “no!”
Who is your role model or mentor (alive or dead)?
From the time I was nine years old and first started taking photos with a 35mm still camera, I knew that my life work would be connected to film. I wanted to be just like Dorothea Lange and travel the world as a documentary photographer. She was strong, independent, groundbreaking, creative, and so empathetic to her subjects.
If you could give one piece of advice to a woman starting out in your field, what would it be?
Programming involves countless hours in front of a computer or in a movie theater seat. Recently, I have found a physical outlet to balance these long hours. I started trail running to have time for myself in nature – to think, breathe deeply, and stay healthy. Running makes me strong, and has helped me develop an inner confidence that I can meet new challenges. I think it is essential! I know you asked for one, but as important is making time for your friends. They give me advice, keep me grounded and make me laugh!
– Interview by Elena Rossini