Actress, comedian, writer and film director Anna Fishbeyn is best-known for her comedy web series ‘Happy Hour Feminism’. Her boundary-breaking new feature film, ‘Galaxy 360: A Woman’s Playground’, which Anna directs and stars in, is out soon. She’s won an Award of Recognition for Leading Actress for ‘Happy Hour Feminism’, as well as Best Director and Best Drama awards for her short film ‘Invisible Alice’. The pre-release of ‘Galaxy 360’ screened to packed houses at the Cannes Film Festival and The Big Apple Film Festival. Anna is the founder of XOFeminist Productions and Anteriya Films. We asked her about how she came up with the idea for her satirical new film.
How did you get into the film industry?
I created ‘Happy Hour Feminism,’ a comedic web series set in a world where women sit on top of a bar, and men come in with problems such as ageing, gaining too much weight, or suffering with their ‘wolf periods’! ‘Happy Hour Feminism’ was a comedy with a message, and to my surprise it had a great response from the film festival community – we got selected at over 17 festivals, and won lots of awards.
Where did the idea for ‘Galaxy 360’ come from?
I had been developing a female character before we started pre-production on the film – a giant media personality named Illumina, who loves to be on camera, revels in fame, says whatever she pleases without filters, and is openly, wildly sexual. This character could only live in a distant future, because women in our world today continue to be censored and judged and forced to do everything they can to please the public and be liked. But Illumina had none of these barriers.
What was it like both directing and acting in the film?
It was great fun to be Illumina, to live in her skin, and to understand this character as part of a larger story that I was telling. As a director and actor, I was able to be in the trenches with the actors, and face the same challenges. There was a synergy and camaraderie among the actors, and the energy we created in our many rehearsals translated into our performances on film. As a result, directing and starring in the film was one of the most significant, challenging and fulfilling experiences of my life.
What kind of message do you want to put out there with your work?
Galaxy 360: A Woman’s Playground’ is a sci-fi comedy film that’s set in 2195. Women rule the world, men dream of getting married, and you’re invited to the most popular reality event of the future – Victor’s Angel’s Mr. World Beauty Pageant. The film is a satire, a gender-reversed world played out with humour and good fun, but with a poignant message. I created this film in order to bring empathy and awareness to the continuing omnipresent objectification of women in our society and the abuse and pain that comes with it.
How does ‘Galaxy 360’ subvert gender roles?
In contemporary beauty pageants, female contestants never have names, they are reduced to states or countries, their bodies and faces ranked and rated in evening gowns and bathing suits, their value determined almost entirely by their looks. In the future world of ‘Galaxy 360’, women have all the wealth and unlimited power and they are obsessed with personal pleasure. Men are playthings, referred to only by the districts they are from, just nameless bodies to parade around in their underwear. In a society that only cares about the rich and powerful, there are no consequences for bad behaviour.
‘Galaxy 360: A Woman’s Playground’ will premiere at the American Film Market in November.