Private Project

The Dirndl Diaspora

A talented dressmaker is overwhelmed by life changes as her multicultural clients discuss their German heritages and drink all her beer.

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Savannah James is racing against time. Orders are rushing in for her custom couture dirndl dresses; friends, customers and reporters keep appearing in her basement studio; ideas keep popping into her head; and—what’s that sound? A baby clock going cuckoo?

Business has been booming since Zendaya wore her designer dress in Teen Vogue. Suddenly Savannah's idea of making ethnic mashups of traditional German party clothes is getting every inner city in America excited about Oktoberfest. And now they're enlisting her for costumes to fight Nazis? Is this any time to bring a baby to work?

Kristen Caven’s new play is about work and creativity, horror stories and fashion fantasies, building positive futures out of complicated pasts, and the beauty of a circle of women.

Oh, and beer. Lots of beer.

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This movie about Oktoberfest (the traditional annual beer festival, now a globally local event) set in Oakland, California is illuminating and relevant at any time of year.

  • Kristen Baumgardner Caven
    Director
  • Kristen Baumgardner Caven
    Writer
    Be Mused, The Souls of Her Feet (stage)
  • Kristen Baumgardner Caven
    Producer
  • Vicki Victoria
    Key Cast
    "Savannah"
    The Smiths (2013)
  • Caroline Altman
    Key Cast
    "Anna"
    The Last Good Man
  • Kristen Caven
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
    Animation, Experimental, Web / New Media
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 25 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    October 3, 2020
  • Production Budget:
    6,300 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
    English
  • Shooting Format:
    n/a
  • Aspect Ratio:
    16:9
  • Film Color:
    Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
    Yes
  • Student Project:
    No
  • Dimond Oaktoberfest |Oaktober2020
    Oakland, CA
    United States
    October 17, 2020
    Worldwide
  • Virtual Oktoberfest 2021
    Online
Director Biography - Kristen Baumgardner Caven

Kristen Caven is a multimedia creative who has written and directed numerous projects, dance numbers, readings, videos, shows, and arts events. Her outpouring can be seen on www.kristencaven.com and www.generousmuse.org.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

This play was inspired at my local Oktoberfest in 2018, in the Dimond District of Oakland California. when I noticed there were more local beers, hip-hop dancers and African clothing booths in the historically German neighborhood than there were German cultural items. As a 2nd generation German Immigrant, I wondered what I could do to help bridge cultures in a creative way. Admiring the beautiful fabrics, it hit me: I wished I could buy a kente cloth dirndl! I wish there were a store where you could buy dirndls that reflected all the traditions.

I love costumes but I’m a better writer than a sewer. I’m not the one to open a shop, but I could write a story about someone who was! I did a table read of the first draft at the 2019 Oaktoberfest (it was a mess) and got a grant to do a staged reading from the neighborhood association in 2020. By July, it was still not known if there could be a live festival, but I started casting just in case. In mid August I decided to do a recording, and someone said, “why not do a little animation over the reading?” Why not indeed! My cast and crew dove into a creative frenzy, happy for a distraction from Covid and meaningful connection.

Working with a sketch a costumer friend had made, I started designing dresses on photoshop and used the venue budget to hire an animator. Ramona Zetino helped me juggle the thousands of assets I created from sketches, online stores, and wikipedia, and bring them alive. I ran rehearsals on Zoom, and, though the audio is far from masterful, managed to get the voices heard and even premiere an original song.

The production experience was exasperating and magical. The cast worked professionally and patiently to help me realize this quirky vision, working through uncharted madness in the new field of community digital theater. On opening night in mid-October, dozens of neighbors and friends gathered on Zoom and ate German food delivered from local restaurants, then tuned in to watch the movie on Vimeo.

The next day, I hosted an online dirndl fashion show and gave out the first #dirndldiversity award! We had entries from all over the world and prizes offered by “costume celebrities” (an opera dresser, a famous sewing teacher and influencer, a poet laureate). I thanked my team with home deliveries of German food and beer from Trader Joe’s. Our collective hope is that this work helps illuminate intertwined ancestries, the bonds of love and fashion, myths and mindset, fascism and feminism, and help envision a more nourishing future for women and their worlds, everywhere.