Q & A with FEMINEM director and star Noemi Zeigler

What inspired you to make this film?

After years of chasing fame, I took an interest in my students’ rap music (at Laney College). They taught me that great rappers tell the truth about their fears, failures, hopes and dreams. I began writing “Feminem” to express both my frustration in trying to gain mainstream approval for my artistic work coupled with my deeper need to express something truer about myself.  My students said I was gassin’ and had flow. At first I thought that was a bad thing. But they really got behind me and we collaborated on shooting the music video.  It was an awesome experience.

What was your greatest challenge during the filmmaking process?

I directed and starred in the video so that was a big challenge. I've always directed and put myself in my own work for some reason -- even though it can be really stressful. It seems to be part of my process. At the same time, I had a great team and was fueled by the excitement and tireless work of my crew and cast, which included many of my students.

Any thoughts you’d like to share about screening this film in a Jewish context?

This is a story about identity. The character Madeline Minx tries on many masks on her quest to define her identity, but ultimately she must uncover who she really is, which inspires her students, albeit inadvertently, to celebrate their own individualities. I think of Woody Allen’s quote which he attributed to Groucho Marx who paraphrased Freud:  “I wouldn’t want to be a member of a club that would have me.”  My characters are in search of themselves, which I suppose is informed by my feelings as an outsider as a Jew, a woman and an artist. 

What film/media has inspired you lately?

I've been intrigued by the music videos of Lupe Fiasco (Bitch Bad is particularly inspiring), Die Antwoord, and Iggy Azalea. I loved Madonna's recent world tour MDNA because, as always, she delivers a great multimedia experience.

What do you do when you’re not filmmaking?

I'm a film professor, I hang out with my beautiful fiance, and I have been honored and humbled to get to play the lead Madonna, Lady Gaga and Britney Spears for the Bay Area Flash Mob. It's been awesome to be a part of something larger than myself. The Bay Area Flash Mob is open to anyone. We perform choreography out on the streets of San Francisco. It's an experience that reminds me that making art is supposed to be fun!

Lastly, gefilte fish: delicious, or disgusting?

I've always been afraid of gefilte fish. I don't think I've brought myself to even taste it. I do love matzah balls. Especially big fluffy ones.

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