There’s a special satisfaction to bringing success home, and Ossining-based film director Jessica Hester is savoring that sweet prospect, with her feature film Coast due for its Westchester premiere at the Jacob Burns Film Center (JBFC) in Pleasantville on September 22. “It will be a chance to celebrate the many talented women who made Coast possible,” she says, currently at work on the all-female panel who will take questions after the movie’s screening. “There is something amazing about working with women that makes collaboration the only way… When you work with women, you are safe to lean into the powerful important questions and go on the journey to discover together.”
Coast – a film about a teenager who falls for the lead singer of a touring rock band and must decide whether to leave family and friends in search of something better – may be set in small-town California, but it has deep roots in the Ossining community, in the Hester family, many of whom worked on it, and in local friendships that date back to high school. Its synthesis of female empowerment and local creativity make it a great fit with JBFC which has a long-standing commitment to women’s work both in front of and behind the camera.
“Coast really exemplifies the kind of women-led projects we want to prioritize in our programming” says Saidah Russell, Interim Programming Manager at JBFC. “Diversifying our audience and especially creating a welcoming, accessible space for youth audiences is absolutely a priority, too,” she adds, stressing the need to tap into and speak to local communities.
This special event, which seems tailor-made for both parties, will have a third dimension, a musical introduction by Hannah Kenny whose voice is heard singing in the movie and who will be flying in from California specially to play before the screening, “preparing the hearts of the audience,” as Jessica puts it.
The panel will feature several of the movie’s actors, including Mia Frampton and Mia Xitlali, and high-profile independent producer Sonya Lunsford whose credits include The Help. “She never does panels,” says Jessica, excited about Lunsford’s involvement.
Jessica herself, and lead producer Dani Faith Leonard, will also be taking part, as may her sister Angelica Hester who edited the film.
And there’s a special symmetry for Jessica, Angelica and other family members to relish. Jessica’s first ever film, The Dress, a twenty-minute short made with her sisters and released in 2010, was also first screened at JBFC.
With its Ossining dimension and strong female representation, plus a musical element, the September 22 screening is looking set to be a fall highlight. It will start at 7pm and tickets will be available from the JBFC box office.
River Journal is the Official Media Partner of the screening, and the event itself is a co-production of River Towns Music Group and JBFC.
For JBFC membership information, which includes discounts on tickets and concessions as well as complimentary ticket offers for screenings and events, visit burnsfilmcenter.org/membership. All photos provided by Coast.