Donna Deitch Wins Highest Honor from Outfest

imagine it won’t be difficult to get the financing for the Desert Hearts sequel.
won’t be difficult; that’s going to come fairly readily.

AE: What
can you tell us about the sequel?
It’s not meant to be a conventional sequel
in the sense that it specifically follows the two main characters, although
they are in it. It begins to collect other characters.

It’s going to be set
in the late ’60s, early ’70s in New York City. There’s a bit of the passing of
the baton, so to speak. The two main characters are definitely in it, but it
begins to tell other people’s stories as well.

I call it the world of Desert Hearts. I’m being a little bit vague on purpose. I see a number of future possibilities for
the world of Desert Hearts, so this
would be the first of several.

AE: Tell us
about your recent trip to Africa.
I was in Zambia with Gloria Steinem and
Equality Now at a conference about female sexual trafficking. It was one of the
most illuminating and intense trips of my life.

Equality Now is an
organization that I’m very involved with, and they are intent on changing the
laws on behalf of women’s rights all over the world — could be divorce laws,
female genital mutilation, sexual trafficking — but they believe if you change
a law, you can then enforce the law. Female sexual trafficking and sexual
trafficking of children is so enormous in our world — and in America, in case
people don’t think it happens here.

This conference was
in Moussaka [in Zambia], and there were women from all over talking about the
organizing they’re doing in their countries, and how things are getting better
or worse. I did shoot a lot [of footage]. I’m going to be cutting what I have
and putting it up on the Equality Now website,
so people can find out what’s going on.

We went on a little
safari when the conference was over on the lower Zambezi, and we were able to
go into the bush and meet these local women who were living there and talk to
them about their own experiences with violence and prostitution and

Last year I had gone
to Nairobi with Equality Now to a female genital mutilation conference, which
was like a gateway to Africa for me — all the women I met there from all these
different countries who were so learned and passionate … I have fallen in love
with Africa. I want to go every year and see a different country.

But one of the
differences in this trip, since Gloria was along, it gave an opportunity to
have a cultural focal point on the film that I’m cutting because we have a very
recognizable, incredibly brilliant woman along on the trip. It helps focus the
film, because we can see her and hear her interacting with these women, so it
lets you into the subject through her. We know what she stands for, and we know
the work she’s done in her life.

She’s among the most
articulate people I’ve ever encountered. Her ability to communicate with so
many different kinds of people on so many different levels is just
extraordinary. This woman is a brilliant wordsmith. And very loving and
compassionate, too.

I believe no woman is free until all women are free, and no
woman is equal until all women are equal. This is in part why we work to end
the sexual trafficking of women in Africa and everywhere.

AE: Are you
doing any directing at the moment?
[laughs] I hope not! It’s tough to be on
that 14-hour workday and then do anything else. So I’m trying to focus on what
it is that I want to do and want to accomplish here.

I spent a lot of
time directing other people’s projects, primarily television, and all the while
hoping to get back to my own work. But at the same time, feeling gratitude for
the work I was doing.

I began work as an
independent filmmaker. I never imagined I’d be working in television as a
director. I do want to get back to my own work.


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