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Director Daresha Kyi and producer Laura Tatham attended this year’s MeetMarket with their “Mama Bears” project. We asked them about their experience at the festival and MeetMarket’s impact on their work. 

What lies at the heart of your desire to work with documentary film? 

Daresha: I am moved by stories of badass people, especially women, who make a huge difference in the world by being (or finding) their most authentic selves.  I find them deeply inspiring and think others will too.

What are you working on now? 

We are still hard at work on “Mama Bears”!  We’re currently in post-production, aiming to finish in early 2020.

What was the biggest challenge you needed to overcome to get the your project off the ground?

Funding is always such a huge hurdle to overcome.  We started production with a personal loan from a close friend but it only covered our first shoot.  Next we raised money through crowd funding, which covered our second shoot. After that we were at a standstill and even missed an incredible storyline due to lack of funds. It wasn't until we finally started receiving substantial funding that we could truly begin production.

When you heard about being accepted as MeetMarket participants what stage were you at with your project? 

We had just wrapped principal production and been offered a co-production deal.

Who was the first person you told?

Daresha: As soon as I found out, I called my producer, Laura, and we celebrated over the phone.  There was a lot of shouting and happy expletives :-)

Had you shown your films or pitched projects at festivals before? How was it? 

Laura: The MeetMarket was our first official pitch forum for “Mama Bears” and it was a huge help, since Daresha had a solo pitch to do later that same week! Daresha pitched her last film, “Chavela” at IFP Film Week.

How did participation in MeetMarket help you to develop your practice as filmmakers and/or your project? 

Laura: Attending MeetMarket gave us an incredible opportunity to meet with distributors, sales agents, and funders from around the world to receive vital feedback on our clips, ask questions and benefit from their advice in a one-on-one setting.

What was the most enjoyable part? 

We were in one of the last meetings held on the final day. There was only one other team left. And when that last bell rang, everyone cheered and applauded for us and for the wonderful volunteers who had helped make everything run so smoothly.  It was a really special moment.

How was the project received? 

We had a very warm reception for our film which helped us realize that there isn't just a national but an international audience hungry for “Mama Bears”!

What effect has attending Doc/Fest had on your work since, has it created further opportunities? 

Laura: We had 26 meetings in two days (and have followed up with everyone since)!  It was a fabulous opportunity to get us on the radar of several distributors we had really wanted to work with. We are also talking with sales agents and have even received some interest from people who must've heard about the film through others who were at MeetMarket!

How do you describe Sheffield Doc/Fest when you meet new people who don’t know the festival? 

Sheffield is one of the largest international documentary festivals in the world with an incredible market attached.

What advice would you give to emerging filmmakers who dream of having their project being a part of MeetMarket one day? 

I always tell emerging filmmakers to find the stories that move their souls on such a deep level that they're willing to dedicate years of the lives to them.  Those are the ones that will resonate with others no matter where they're from.

About the filmmakers:

Daresha Kyi writes, produces, and directs film and television in Spanish and English. In 2017 she co-directed the multiple award-winning film Chavela. In 2018 she directed a short for an ACLU web series on transgender rights that garnered over 1.7 million views on YouTube and a series of shorts for the Family Independence Initiative about their work empowering families to escape poverty. This 2017-18 Firelight Documentary Lab fellow has also produced programming for FX, WE, AMC, Telemundo, and FUSE, among others.

Since making the move to film production, Laura Tatham has worked on a number of social justice projects. She served as associate producer for Chavela and Dispatches from Cleveland (which partnered with Color of Change for their 2016 #Voting WhileBlack viral campaign). Laura also acted as the NYC production office manager for Garret Bradley’s America, a series of narrative shorts. A talented copy editor, Laura has spent nearly ten years in both the corporate (Simon & Schuster) and nonprofit (Feminist Press) publishing sectors, working on countless New York Times bestsellers, as well as Lambda Literary and Pulitzer Prize winning works.

About “Mama Bears”:

Mama Bears is a feature documentary that will delve into the stories of LGBTQ people whose lives have been profoundly affected by religious and parental rejection. Currently, in production, the film will focus on the personal details of each family’s life as audiences watch these mama bears go to bat for their children’s rights in an increasingly polarized nation.

It will also delve into the stories of LGBTQ people whose lives have been profoundly affected by religious and parental rejection, to provide viewers with a clear understanding of the absolute need for acceptance.

These true tales, along with vitally important conversations with both affirming and non-affirming theologians and ministers, will form a rich tapestry around the complex intersections of politics, religion, faith, and true, unconditional love.

MAMA BEARS_trailer (1:21) from Daresha Kyi on Vimeo.

Mama Bears website