NOTE to DocPItch: "Flux" is in very early development, and still lacking its own website, social media tags, stills, poster and trailer. A “preview trailer”and other working promotional materials could certainly be produced by April 17, and perhaps earlier, if needed. In the meantime I have inserted links to materials representing my previous documentary, MOTHERLOAD, which premiered at DOCLANDS in 2019.

Flux is a crowdsourced feature documentary exploring new and evolving questions about gender, aging, power and the future of humanity.

Filmmaker Liz Canning’s daughter Stormy will go through puberty at the same time she will experience menopause: one entering, and one leaving reproductivity behind.

These are both widely considered tumultuous and potentially degrading transitions. Statistically, Stormy is far more likely to lose confidence in puberty than her twin brother Rocko. As a post-menopausal woman Liz may be prone to feeling a loss of self-assurance, a certain invisibitiy. And yet this is how every woman alive grows—why aren’t these transformations broadly viewed as progress in the evolution of a woman’s personhood, wisdom and power? In looking deeply at these hormonal shifts, this documentary will ask how living in a state of flux informs and enriches the female mind and perspective.

Flux, like Liz’s previous documentary, MOTHERLOAD, would interweave the story of Liz and Stormy’s experience with that of others, examining these through the lenses of science, philosophy, history, mythology, and memory, thus creating a multifaceted picture that upends our cultural understanding of female puberty, menopause and gender itself.

Evolutionary scientists have long wondered WHY women stop reproducing mid-life when almost every other living female thing reproduces until the moment it dies. The only species on earth who live a substantial post-reproductive life are narwhals, beluga whales, short-finned pilot whales, killer whales and us. Post-menopausal orcas become the leaders of their pods, thus passing on their well-honed survival skills. And, in fact, most theories explaining human menopause suggest that non-reproductive grandmothers may have been KEY to the evolutionary success of the human species.

As a culture we are currently rethinking common notions of gender and redefining women’s role in the public sphere. As a country we’ve been struggling with the idea of electing our first (likely post-menopausal) female president. How are these things related? Why is the US the only developed country that’s never elected a woman as its leader?

Director Liz Canning spent summers growing up alongside actress Tea Leoni, who just completed her sixth and final season of Madame Secretary, a very popular CBS show on which she played a Secretary of State who becomes the first female president of the United States. Flux would include Tea’s description of this experience, the questions encountered in producing this narrative, and the emotional reactions to the idea of a non-male leader of the free world.

There are increasing connections being drawn between gender and climate change. The widely respected sustainability project Drawdown ( https://www.drawdown.org/solutions/women-and-girls ) claims empowering girls and women can save the planet. The #6 solution to climate change is Educating Girls and #7 is reproductive rights/Family Planning. Combined, these 2 things would be the #1 solution. They would also put a lot more women in leadership positions, and studies show countries with more female leaders adapt more stringent climate policy.

All of this together points to a huge and important question for Flux to explore: how might the world change if women had more power?

In the making and distributing of MOTHERLOAD, Liz learned how to use crowdsourcing, crowdfunding and “crowd-distribution” to exponentially increase the engagement with, and social impact of, her filmmaking. The MOTHERLOAD project has been driving measurable change since its inception in 2011, and the number of community-based, interactive screening events multiplies daily. (Education distribution and streaming platforms are still to come!) Flux will fit beautifully into this model, gaining followers, depth and momentum as it evolves through crowdsourcing, crowdfunding and crowd-distribution, building a movement for gender equity along the way!

Some of Liz’s ideas for Flux have been informed by her work (Director/producer/writer/editor/animator) on an episode of Link TV’s Global Mosaic, still in rough cut, to be broadcast in April 2020: https://vimeo.com/395632920/daf89cf57d

    MOTHERLOAD, Handmirror/Brush Set Included, American Blackout, Girls Rock
    MOTHERLOAD, Handmirror/Brush Set Included, American Blackout, Girls Rock
    MOTHERLOAD, Handmirror/Brush Set Included, American Blackout, Girls Rock
  • Sally Roy
    The Pollinators, #MeToo, Now What?, Moyers & Company, Bill Moyers on Faith & Reason, Now on PBS, The Kid Stays in the Picture
  • Bous De Jong
    Dream Girl, How to Change the World, Classic Albums, The Bird Can't Fly
    Key Cast
  • Tea Leoni
    Key Cast
    "Tea Leoni of Madame Secretary"
    Madame Secretary, The Family Man, Jurassic Park III, The Naked Truth, Flirting with Disaster, A League of their Own
  • Stormy Canning Smith
    Key Cast
    "Stormy Canning Smith"
  • Rocko Canning Smith
    Key Cast
    "Rocko Canning Smith"
  • Denise Bostrom
    Story Editor
    MOTHERLOAD, The Remarkable Red Hat Society, Children of the Amazon, Healthcaring from Our End of the Speculum
  • John Behrens
    The Amy Tan Documentary, Racing Extinction, Resilience, Miss Representation, The Game changers, The Social Dilemma
  • Project Type:
    Animation, Documentary, Feature
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 32 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    December 31, 2022
  • Production Budget:
    400,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    Congo, the Democratic Republic of the, Costa Rica, Japan, Netherlands, United Kingdom, United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital 4k
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - ELIZABETH CANNING

After graduating from Brown University’d Department of Modern Culture and Media in 1990 with a degree in Semiotics, Liz Canning moved west to collaborate with fellow Brown alum and award-winning filmmaker Jon Moritsugu on three of his feature films: Hippy Porn, Mod F*** Explosion, and the ITVS-funded Terminal USA.

During this time Liz also created video installations and curated film screenings at at San Francisco’s Artists Television Access, while teaching, writing and directing the film festival at Film Arts Foundation. Liz’s award-winning experimental short Handmirror/Brushset Included screened internationally, on PBS and at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC , and was distributed by Art Com.

Since 2000, Liz has worked as a professional filmmaker focused on editing and animation for documentaries. In 2006, American Blackout, on which Liz was editor and associate producer, won a Sundance Special Jury Prize. Girls Rock! secured theatrical distribution and featured five animated sequences conceived and created by Liz and to demonstrate the cultural forces affecting young girls.

Liz Canning’s 2019 feature documentary, MOTHERLOAD has screened almost 200 times and been subtitled in 7 languages since May 2019, winning multiple awards and rave reviews in publications such as Outside Magazine. In November 2019 The Napa Valley Film Festival chose Liz to participate not only in their festival, but also their week-long Artist in Residence program. MOTHERLOAD won the San Francisco Green Film Festival’s Audience Award and Best Director and Best International Documentary at the Hollywood North Film Festival.

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