Where is She Now?

Chainletter Filmmakers:

The M.I.A. Chainletter

Sativa Peterson, The Slow Escape (also The Slow Escape on Joanie 4 Jackie 4Ever)
October 31, 2016

How did you find out about Joanie 4 Jackie and how old were you at the time?
I read an article (in BUST Magazine, I think) that mentioned Miranda July and her project, called Big Miss Moviola at the time. It was a call for lady made films, and I had recently finished making a personal documentary, The Slow Escape. So, I sent my film to Miranda hoping to make a connection with other creative women. I was 25 years old.

What interested you about the project?
Initially, that it operated like a film exchange – woman to woman. It seemed like an awesome secret club to see what other women were making and doing pre-internet when it wasn’t always so easy to find each other.

At the time you participated in Joanie 4 Jackie did you consider yourself a filmmaker? What was your relationship to making movies?
I did consider myself a filmmaker though I was largely self-taught, and The Slow Escape was my first film. I wrote the script and painstakingly recorded the narration, which informed the images I needed to shoot and collect. I began creating an image catalog, and used both a hi-8 video camera, and a Super-8 film camera. I transferred the super-8 film by projecting it onto a white sheet in my Chelsea apartment in New York City and using my video camera to re-record it.

I was working at a small post-production studio called American Montage alongside my boyfriend at the time (who was the film’s editor). My boss, Eric Marciano, would let us use the editing equipment for my film late at night and on weekends when the studio wasn’t booked.

Do you have any specific anecdotes or memories associated with your movie?
I very much wanted to talk about the idea of the missing girl; a woman’s response to the disappearance and assumed murder of another woman. And, how that disappearance played on my own imagination and sense of personal safety. Though I hoped it also faced the threat of violence with moments of resistance and even humor.

What did you think/feel about the Joanie 4 Jackie at the time? And now, in retrospect?
I was very proud for the film to be included because I always wanted the film to have a life of its own, and for it to have the opportunity to be viewed by other girls and women (and men, too) around the country and beyond.

While recording the narration I wanted it to feel intimate, a near-whisper, like something a friend would tell you as you lay next to each other at a sleepover.

I felt like the J4J distribution system of woman-to-woman continued this intimacy; telling a friend about something you discovered about the world. And I like the idea of exchanging work among makers.

If you attended a screening, can you tell us where and when it was and anything else you remember about it?
I attended a screening in 1998 in Berkeley, CA at The Fine Arts Cinema. It was part of the Joanie 4 Jackie 4Ever Tour. I remember meeting Miranda July in the bathroom and talking to one another through our reflections in the bathroom mirror. She also came to visit me one day. I was living in Oakland, CA and in graduate school at UC Berkeley, and she must have been visiting her parents’ house in Berkeley. I remember that I put these little silk flowers in my hair because I wanted to look nice for her; like I was getting ready for a date, which is really embarrassing looking back on it. I remember we talked about the book Shot in the Heart written by Mikal Gilmore about his brother Gary Gilmore (who was the first person to be executed in the United States after the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976) which, I recall, we were both sort of obsessed with, and we talked about Norman Mailer’s The Executioner’s Song, a novel based on Gilmore’s life.

What institutions, groups, people, publications and movements were inspiring you at the time of your participation in J4J?
I grew up in Winslow, Arizona. Growing up in a small town can be really intimate; at the same time, you feel like you’re missing other things in the world. I was, at that time, trying to discover those things by watching a lot of movies and living in New York City.

Also, I had a job working at Butler Library at Columbia University. During my lunch hour I would pore over art books in the stacks.

What do you do now – professionally and otherwise? Are you still involved in filmmaking?
I am a writer, librarian, and archivist. I have been working on a memoir about being named after cannabis sativa, the Latin words for a strain of marijuana, which I hope to finish later this year. I haven’t been involved in filmmaking too recently, but I’m eager to make another film.

Anything you would like to see on the J4J site?
Links to filmmakers/participants websites would be welcome, as would more photographs. A call for a new J4J Chainletter.