The Feministing Five: Nina Reyes Rosenberg

This week, I changed it up a bit and made a video for the Feministing Five. Enjoy!

Make sure you check out the full Made of Stars (Rack City remix) music video, transcript and more links after the jump!

And coming soon: my interview with rapper Miss Hazel Rose of 40Love (who stars in the Made of Stars video)–plus the two brilliant artists talking to each other about the concept behind the video and so much more. You don’t want to miss it!


Music: Rack City (Instrumental)

Organism movie clip:

“Anybody got a tampon?”

“F*** tampons!”

Anna Sterling: What you just saw were two clips by filmmaker, artist and entrepreneur Nina Reyes Rosenberg, my interview for this week’s Feministing Five. The first clip was from a music video she shot for hip-hop group 40Love’s Miss Hazel Rose. The second, a clip from her award-winning short film, Organism.

And now, without further ado, the Feministing Five, with Nina Reyes Rosenberg.

Anna Sterling: Tell me about your filmmaking beginnings.

Nina Reyes Rosenberg: When I was really little I started making little videos on home video cameras with my friends and we would make little horror films where I’d play a little babysitter or something like that that comes back from the dead as a zombie babysitter.

AS: You paint, do graphic design and photography. Why is film your favorite medium?

NRR: It’s super collaborative. You can’t make a film or video by yourself. You just can’t. It’s just such a strong storytelling medium. What really excites me are different characters and the conflicts that they face.

AS: Tell me about your film Organism.

NRR: The film is about two teenage girls who develop romantic feelings and sexual curiosities about each other. I think because it was speaking to characters and subject matter that isn’t really addressed in mainstream film very often, it was really embraced by the gay and lesbian film community. The film is really colorful. I’m sort of controlling of the wardrobe and production design and the look of the film because I have a really strong personal aesthetic. I feel that it was really successful in terms of finding an audience and having a good run. When I made it, my only dream for it was to be shown on a big screen somewhere. It totally exceeded my expectations in that sense.

AS: How has your bicultural identity influenced your art?

NRR: My mom’s family is from Mexico and pretty much our whole family is still there, so I grew up going back and forth between Mexico and here. I also grew up going to a private Jewish school for elementary and middle school, so I definitely saw a huge range of lifestyles and different cultural values. I sort of have a color blind approach to the way I cast my videos and films and it’s something I don’t think much about, but other people notice and comment on. I just cast off of the energy I get from somebody without regard to what their skin tone is. For me, my identity was very much a struggle of I don’t look like my mom and people in the same family having all kinds of skin tones. I think that going to Mexico and seeing this really colorful aesthetic that Mexican society has, people paint their homes in really bright colors. It’s such a rich aesthetic that I think that definitely influenced my personal aesthetic and the look that I like my work to have.

AS: How did you get involved with youth work?

NRR: As a teenager, the opportunities I got to create artistically were through non-profit organizations. NYU is this Disneyland kind of place where they have so much resources and I really felt I was getting a million dollar education. Having had a spoken word and performance background, it was really easy for me to communicate ideas and concepts to people in a classroom setting. I just wanted to share that with kids because at my high school, we didn’t really have that many art opportunities. It was more of a math, science, testing oriented place.

AS: What’s AMO?

NRR: Well, it’s basically the partnership that I have with Jesse Levandov, who is my creative partner and best friend. Jesse and I were two girls in film school and NYU film school is actually 3-to-1 male to female so we definitely vibed on a level of, we’re these tough girls who are going to make whatever we want to make and we want to work together and help each other out. That evolved into AMO because we were both also interested in doing non-profit work and making videos for non-profits and doing education and doing workshops at high schools. It’s sort of all of that under this umbrella that we put over it.

AS: Who are your favorite filmmakers?

NRR: Okay, for sure, my biggest inspirations and biggest influences in terms of my work are Pedro Almodóvar and John Waters, who I think are definitely related to each other. Well, the filmmaker that got me into film was Quentin Tarantino. He was the first person who–I saw Pulp Fiction and thought, I can’t believe somebody made something like this. This is exactly what I want to make. Pedro Almodóvar and John Waters were going deeper into that alternative rabbit hole. They really push boundaries and really make whatever they want to make and their characters are so deep and rich.

AS: What are your favorite movies?

NRR: Okay, so I guess for Pedro Almodóvar… Bad Education. And my favorite John Waters film is probably Cry-Baby. And my favorite film right now that I’ve been super watching on repeat is Almost Famous.

AS: Who is your favorite fictional heroine, and who are your heroines in real life?

NRR: It’s gotta be Alicia Silverstone’s Cher in Clueless which definitely defined my entire youth and also Uma Thurman’s Mia Wallace in Pulp Fiction, which was such a radical, like, I’ve never seen a character that came anything close to that before. She just has this attitude and this whole persona that totally was life-changing for me. My mom is my real life heroine because she’s just the strongest person that I even know. She’s a small business owner and I think anything would be able to confront her and she would completely face it and overcome it with so much grace.

AS: You’re going to a desert island and get to take one drink, one food and one feminist. What do you pick?

NRR: Iced coffee. Hopefully, I wouldn’t get too dehydrated because that’s definitely my staple. I have one at least once a day. If I could have one food on a desert island, it would be a taco. It’s the simplest, most delicious comfort food that I have. If I could have one feminist on a desert island with me, it would be Nicki Minaj. I don’t know if she’s a “feminist,” but she’s just so strong and totally kicks ass and I just think she’s a hella strong female and she’s so creative and beautiful. I love you Nicki.

Music: Nicki Minaj – Your Love 

40Love – Made of Stars (Rack City Remix)

Organism teaser

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