5 Quick Questions with Filmmaker Ana Sofia Joanes
to support the Kickstarter campaign for her new documentary about families, Taking Our Places
Question 1: Tell us about yourself. Who are you? How did you become a filmmaker?
Ana: I’m 40, a slight bit neurotic (just enough), not really an extrovert but not an introvert either. I love hiking and dancing. I got pregnant totally unexpectedly when I was 34 and have been laughing and crying ever since. I know it’s such a cliche but for real (for real), it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me (and sometimes I feel that makes me kind of a loser…)
I wanted to be a filmmaker as a teen but didn’t think I had anything to say or any talent. So I went to college and law school and a couple years out of law school I started a not-for-profit teaching video production to kids coming out of detention as well as other “at-risk” youth. At some point, someone pointed out to me that I was asking these kids to do something I had not had the courage to do myself: find their own voices. I’m a lot of things, but not a hypocrite so I said, fine, I’ll do it. I reached out to a friend to see if he wanted to work on a project with me — I don’t think I would have had the courage to do it alone — and we made a documentary together entitled Generation Meds about mental illness, and no, it is NOT against medication. (I think you’ll like it, Beth.) I was hooked.
As soon as I was done with that movie, I started my second feature documentary, FRESH, about sustainable agriculture. I released FRESH (and toured the country with it) when I was 8 months pregnant with my first child. Since then I’ve had two more kids! All the while working on Taking Our Places, my latest project about parenting.
Question 2: You’re a mother of 3 and a filmmaker. That sounds like a lot of work and like you’re very disciplined and dedicated and like I should probably be intimidated by you. Please share photographic evidence of something you’re not cleaning. Like your bathroom counter. Or your kitchen table. Or that one drawer with all the crap in it. If you show me yours, I’ll show you mine; it’s only fair.
Ana: Well, actually Beth, I’m also a black belt in Indo-Japanese Karate-Taekwondo and I lead daily meditation at the women’s prison. I home-school and we have a small homestead where we raise all our food (three years now without a trip to the grocery store yayyy!). And here’s a picture of our playroom. I try to keep it organized but you know how it is! So embarrassing to share it with you.
Ahem. And here’s a real picture:
Question 3: I’ve asked the 5 Kids readers these questions, too, as part of our ongoing 5 Quick Questions series. Ready? Fill in these blanks:
- My fridge is the place where _____ goes to die.
Ana: Leftovers?? And too many veggies I buy full of ambition about cooking … and then end up ignoring in favor of boiling pasta.
- Once, in the dark, I stepped on _____.
Ana: Oh, I don’t walk in the dark unless I’m in a masochistic mood. My house is not safe like that. You HAVE to look down at all times before stepping unless you want to step on food thrown by my 1 year old or some sharp toys my girls just leave all over the house. The Winter is MUCH safer as I ware slippers and can walk with more confidence.
- The last thing I cleaned up that was wet but not mine was _____.
Ana: That’s really SO uninteresting. My son makes it his business to let me know he wants to potty, and, as soon as I sit him down, he gets up and finds a good location (usually plural) to pee and poop. So I mean, you know, I clean a lot of wet things that aren’t mine.
Question 4: Tell us about Taking Our Places. What’s it about? Why is it important? How is it different than the myriad (and frankly, super unhelpful) “expert” parenting methods out there? Is Taking Our Places going to make us feel crappy about ourselves? ‘Cause, honestly, we’re already pretty good at that without outside help.
Ana: Such a great question, Beth! Taking Our Places is in many ways the antidote to all the guilt-tripping advice out there (just like your wonderful blog!)
Taking Our Places is NOT a talking-head movie. Instead I intimately follow three families over the course of several years. One the most powerful aspect of making this movie has been how so much of the loneliness and guilt associated with parenting has lifted for me. In public I’m often on my best behavior, but behind closed doors, that’s when the worse of my parenting happens: yelling, bribing, nagging, guilt-tripping. I used to think that other parents have it more together, do it better, etc.
One of the true gift of this documentary is to witness these moments in others and realize how NOT alone I am in my humanity and short-comings. But my experience has also lead me to believe that parenting is a skill that can be learned AND that we CAN experience more joy, trust, and connection with our loved-ones.
Taking Our Places is also about that: the participating families learn a new mindfulness and partnership-based approach to parenting and receive coaching. Taking Our Places documents their process and showcase the beautiful possibility of healing and growth that can follow.
Question 5: That sounds… GOOD. And like we need MORE of that in our parenting world. How do we support this effort, Ana?
Ana: Thank you! I’ve been shooting for two years and am ready to start post-production. We’ve hired a wonderful editor and we’re ready to go. In order to move forward we’ve launched a Kickstarter campaign. Please take a look, watch the trailer, and if you feel moved, please contribute! Every dollar matters! And please share on your social networks. Finally, “like” us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram. This movie is made by a team of moms (produced, directed and edited by moms!) and is meant for all the mom and dad who want to grow the love and connection in their family and in the world.