Filmmaker Nana Ghana Is On The Rise With Documentary “LA Woman Rising”

This weekend, we had the pleasure of attending the final fundraising event for “LA Woman Rising”, a documentary film by multi-talented power woman, Nana Ghana. It was a beautiful evening on the roof of West Hollywood’s exclusive boutique hotel, Le Petit Ermitage, and the event was full to the brim with many of Nana’s friends, supporters and even a few of the subjects in the film. A new trailer for the film was screened towards the end of the evening, giving everyone a small taste of project and leaving this Galore girl very excited to see the final product. I had a chance to sit down an chat with Nana for a few minutes before the event to get a little insight on the film and the entire process she went through to create it.

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Interview by Alexander Mandelkorn

Can you tell us what inspired you make this film? How was the seed planted?
I became a woman in LA and I wanted to make something that was about women. Jim Morrison has always been an inspiration for me and his song “LA Woman”. He created this visual icon of what an ‘LA woman’ is, and through my experiences living and growing here, I felt that an ‘LA woman’ was actually much more than what he was describing. A woman in LA has such an adventurous spirit. We all come here from different parts of the world to follow our dreams. So, I thought that showing how women wake up, before we put on our armor to face the world, and no matter how different we are, no matter our demographic, we all wake up with the same sun. We all wake up wanting to have a good day. I was really interested in that ritual aspect before we step out of the house and face the world.

Why do you think that these morning rituals are so important for women?
First of all, when you are afforded the gift of waking up each morning, its another day to feel that sense of gratitude. You know, a lot of women are fighting to stay alive. One of the women in the film was diagnosed with stage 3 cancer at the age of 30 years. Everyday she is fighting for her life. I think that by doing these simple acts every morning, its a way to acknowledge oneself. Its a moment to think about how you’re feeling about yourself and how you’re feeling about what you’re going to go do. Its a chance for us to be kinder to ourselves. Its our moment to connect with ourselves.

Why did you solely want to focus on women for this film?
I think a woman is another woman’s natural ally. No matter what, even if you don’t speak the same language, or if you’re in another country, if you need something, another woman is more likely going to understand and be able to help you. I feel like the film was a perfect vehicle to create and show that idea. In our popular culture you don’t see many films about women, celebrating women. It didn’t really dawn on me until I was fully immersed in the filmmaking process, I just wanted to do it about women because I am a woman.

Nana Ghana and three of the LA women featured in her film, Megan McIsaac, Los Angela and Mia Schaikewitz

Nana Ghana and three of the LA women featured in her film, Megan McIsaac, Los Angela and Mia Schaikewitz

It’s really interesting because there seems to be a lot of this idea – the idea of sisterhood – coming up these days. Kate Nash has started ‘Girl Gang’, Beyonce is supporter of feminism and has flashed the word in several of her concerts, you have created this amazing film documenting women in a very personal moment which helps to show our struggles and our strength. Its happening all over: girls are coming together and reigniting the fires of a new feminist movement.

It’s time! This is our time. We used to rule the universe: Queen Victoria, ancient goddesses, Mother Nature. We’re going to bring a balance and a harmony to the universe.

Before I knew what your film was about, just from the title “LA Woman Rising”, I thought it was a documentary about women and how we are on the rise, how we as a gender are rising up in culture.

Exactly. Its a double entendre.

Was there anything that you learned along the way from the women that you interviewed that surprised you or took you off guard?

One of the women, Mia Schaikewitz, she got paralyzed when she was 15 years old and had to learn how to do everything all over again. She says that the fact that every morning, she knows that can do her ritual and get through that task alone, makes her realize that she can live her life. That was one of the most touching thing for me on multiple levels.

Can you tell us about some of you other upcoming projects?

I just finished a Harmony Korine and James Franco collaboration which Vice produced called ‘Gift of the Ages’. Its a story about a father who decides to get his son a prostitute on his 13th birthday. James plays the father and I play the prostitute.

Well that sounds like quite a departure from “LA Woman Rising” but just goes to show how dynamic and talented you are!
As a filmmaker, I feel like because I’m just so curious about people, I’m always very open and constantly looking for an adventure, so I allow magic to happen. Through that, Im going to do this kind of work that is about bringing people together and showing things like women rising, but then there is this other side of me thats a performer, a more abstract artist, who is more daring.

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