2018 Women Talk Story

Women In Film + Media Talk Story

SUN AUGUST 12 // 930 AM


Hawaii Filmmakers Collective

3167 Waialae Avenue, Honolulu

A day of informative and thought-provoking discussions about how films by and about LGBTQ women are being developed, produced and distributed.

Our guests will share personal experiences, inside tips and background stories on how we can continue to empower filmmakers to create deeper, truer and more diverse representations of LGBTQ women in the media.

This is event is reserved for:

Hawaii Filmmakers Collective members

HRFF29 All-Access Festival Passholders

HRFF29 ClexaCon Women’s Programming 1-Day Passholders

You can purchase your pass by clicking here.


930 – 1000 AM // Meet and Mingle

With coffee, tea and pastries provided by Hawaii Filmmakers Collective

1000 – 1050 AM // Panel One: Creators Panel

1100 – 1150 AM // Panel Two: Actors and Casting Panel

1200 – 1230 PM // Networking

With snacks provided by the Honolulu Gay & Lesbian Cultural Foundation

Panel One: Creators Panel

Getting Your Project Made…and Getting It Out There

Join the creators panel for a discussion about producing independent films, submitting to film festivals and getting content to audiences around the world. You might even hear some behind the scenes stories about the films screening at this year’s film festival!

Scheduled to participate are: Aaron Amal, Caitlin Combe, Lisa Donato, Alyssa Lerner, Christine McAuliffe, Madeleine Olnek, Jana Park Moore, Lily Richards and some of Hawaii’s very own filmmakers and festival coordinators.

Moderator: Dylan Arrieta, HRFF29 Director

Panel Two: Actors and Casting Panel

Breaking Through: Creating New Representations of LGBTQ Women

Celebrate the actresses who are proudly portraying LGBTQ characters on screen and hear from the people who cast them in those roles. Learn about these actors’ experiences playing LGBTQ and how these roles have impacted their careers and their connection to the broader LGBTQ community. Also hear from some directors / producers / writers about how they came to find the perfect actors for their films.

Scheduled to participate are actresses Sharon Belle, Winny Clarke, Keikilani Grune, Marem Hassler, Jackie Monahan, Lily Richards and Laura Zak. Plus, some of the directors / writers from the creators’ panel who were involved in casting will also join the discussion!

Moderator: TBA

Since the main room is limited to 40 attendees, registration is required. Please register using the form at the bottom of this page.

Meet the discussion participants:


Aaron Amal is an LA-based writer with a focus on science fiction and fantasy. His guiding principle, “Same stories, different faces,” takes familiar stories that resonate with audiences and populates them with characters that are not traditionally represented in mass media. “Maricruz” represents this principle in its purest form, and Aaron has taken an active role in helping to develop the story through each of its permutations. He is an active member of WGA West and the Committee of Black Writers.


Dylan Arrieta is the Executive Director of the Honolulu Gay and Lesbian Cultural Foundation (HGLCF), a nonprofit 501c(3) organization. She is also the Festival Director of the Honolulu Rainbow Film Festival (HRFF), one of the longest-running LGBTQ film festivals in the country, now in its 29th year. During the off season, Dylan performs locally as a musician.


Born and raised in Keswick Ontario, Sharon Belle moved to Toronto to study Acting on Film and Television at Humber College. Since then, she has been in numerous web series including Streamy-nominated “Couple-ish”, three seasons of Canadian Screen Award-winning “Carmilla” as well as her recent original project “Step Sisters” co-created with Maddy Foley. Belle is known for her starring role of Elise in the series “Swerve” directed by Jason Armstrong, where she recently took on the role of producer. She has also starred in many shorts and feature films including the award winning short “Fuck Buddies” directed by Nate Wilson, and award winning feature “The Control” directed by Mike Stasko in which she was also awarded best lead actress at Nice International Film Festival.

Winny Clarke

Winny Clarke is an actor based in Toronto, Canada. She’s had lead roles in various episodes of television series such as “Web of Lies”, “Motives and Murders” and “Murder U”. You can find Winny’s latest film “Nobody Famous” on various VOD platforms. She’s excited to film the third season of “Swerve” this year.


Caitlin Combe is from Ireland but was brought up in South East Asia. She graduated from Emerson College in December 2016 with a B.A. in Film Production. She works best when she is surrounded by creatives who are equally driven and invested as she is. She has previously spent time at Annapurna Pictures, FilmNation Entertainment, and Management 360. She says that making a web series was the best decision she has ever made. She is currently working on producing two features, a documentary on Rwanda and a few shorts with her partner in crime, Lily Richards.


Lisa Donato is a writer, director, and activist from Billings, Montana. The first feature film that she co-wrote, “Signature Move”, world-premiered at SXSW and won the grand jury prize for best US narrative feature at Outfest (2017). Donato’s short films have won many awards on the festival circuit, including best LGBTQ short at Cannes: Emerging Filmmaker Showcase for “Spunkle”. She was one of 35 short film directors shortlisted for the prestigious UK Iris Prize for The News Today. Other story credits include shows for National Geographic Wild, OWN, PBS, and personal essays for the LA Times, Self Magazine, and Curve. She splits her permanent time between Austin, TX, and Los Angeles.


Keikilani Grune is a Honolulu based actress and model. She has had lead roles in the independent films “Thoughts of Night” (Hawaii Filmmakers Collective 48 Hour Film Challenge, 2nd place winner), “More Than Love” (My Rode Reel contest, Finalist – Judges’ Film award). She reprised her role as Amy from “More Than Love” for a cameo in “Water Like Fire”. Keikilani has held principal roles in numerous local and national commercials for Panasonic, Michelob Ultra, Disney Aulani, Toyota Hawaii and First Hawaiian Bank. She has also been featured in the feature film “Aloha” and “Snatched”. As a model, Keikilani has booked jobs with Maui Jim, Carnival cruise lines Australia, Ritz Carlton and Hawaiian Airlines.


Marem Hassler was born in Switzerland to artistic parents, her mother is a sculpture and her father is a film director. She did a lot of acting work in London before going to acting school in New York. She moved to LA to persue her career as an actress and filmmaker. She is an actress and producer, known for Duo (2015) and Riley Parra (2017). She recently won the ISA award for Riley Parra for best lead actress in a dramatic show.


Alyssa Lerner is a Filipino and Jewish recovering ballerina heralding from Poway, a part of San Diego no one wants to visit. Growing up with enough internalized homophobia to invent many fake boyfriends, Alyssa now writes authentic queer stories to heal herself and her community. Alyssa graduated from UC Berkeley in Ethnic Studies and Dance, and went on to receive her MFA in Writing for Film and TV at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts. She is the winner of the Inside Out 2018 Pitch Competition, her scripts have won best pilot at the LA Comedy Film Festival, and her produced work has been officially selected at the Berlinale International Film Festival, the NBCUniversal Shorts Fest Finals, and Outfest Film Festival.


Christine McAuliffe is a Los Angeles-based writer, director and editor. She received her M.F.A. in Film Production from Loyola Marymount University in 2016 where she wrote, directed, produced and edited four films, including her thesis film, “Maricruz”. “Maricruz” embodies Christine’s passion for crafting inclusive narratives that also showcase the most engaging aspects of genre film. “Maricruz” is enjoying a healthy festival run, having participated in six festivals as of May 2018. The story has since expanded to become a feature film script, web series and graphic novel. Along with her co-writer Aaron Amal, Christine is in collaboration with Spanish artist Rafa Mata to bring the graphic novel to life. Christine resides in Los Angeles and currently works as a freelance film editor.


Lily Richards is a 23 year old Los Angeles based actress, writer, and director. Her directorial premier was in 1995 at the tender age of two in her living room where she directed a series of stories starring small plastic miniatures of Snow White and the Seven dwarves. Since then she has gone on to direct her one act play, “The Silent Table” which premiered at the Rarework’s Women’s Theatre Festival in the Spring of 2015. “Twenty” is Lily’s film directing debut. Lily’s film acting credits include “I Married A Murderer” (dir. Anthony Cross), “Toxic” (dir. Myles Yaksich), “The Jacket” (dir. Sergio Vaccaro), “The Bunker” (dir. Nick Eaton), and “Under The Bed” (dir. Julian Gilbert). Los Angeles theatre credits include “A Breakup Is Swift” (dir. Clint Bagwell), “LACMA Presents: The Hereafter Institute” (dir. Benita De Witt/ Game Barca Colombo). She also plays a supporting role in the Web Series “Bad Conchas” and has guest starred on the popular science fiction podcast “Paradoxica”. Lily recently graduated from Emerson College. During her time there she starred in many Boston based theatre productions including “Mad Cow” (dir. Maria Croce), “We Are Pussy Riot” (dir. Ken Prestininzi), “On My Honor” (dir. Joe Antoun), “All This Intimacy” (dir. James Blaszko), and “The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane” (dir. Bob Colby). When she is not creating content she can be found fawning over cute dogs on the sidewalk.


Laura Zak is an Emmy-nominated and Peabody Award-winning writer, actor, and producer. She co-created and starred in the Gotham Award-winning series “Her Story” and is a writer and voice actor on Amazon’s “Danger & Eggs” as well as on Netflix’s upcoming “Twelve Forever.” Laura’s work can be seen in various films, series, and music videos including “Take My Wife,” “Spunkle,” “Advocates,” Buzzfeed’s “Lesbian Princess,” and “Foxy Trot”. She produces and hosts two popular podcasts: “Angel On Top” and “Sicker, Sadder World”. Laura studied journalism at Boston University, creative writing at Northwestern University, and received a Classics Diploma from St. John’s College in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She currently resides in Los Angeles.



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