Interview with Filmmaker Jessica Elizabeth Davenport (CORETTA)

CORETTA played to rave reviews at the August 2021 MUSIC Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

I was very traumatized by my husband’s death, and I still struggle with survivor’s guilt and grief. I found an ally in Coretta Scott King. I wrote and recorded this song to tell that story. I designed the protest signs series we see on the road to show that without context the messages are not clear. Who are we fighting and for what? In the end all we can control is our own actions, and our own words. Passive violence leads to physical violence. And both are toxic.
As an architect, I work on the design of cities and transportation systems. And for a few years after my husband’s suicide I was committed, even obsessed with trying to fix the world, to make healthy places. I met many engineers and designers advocating for clean, green, sustainable solutions to heal our planet. Yet I began to see the real root of all the toxicity, and it wasn’t a problem you could engineer your way out of. It’s simply our own behavior. I began to realize I had become a zealot for healthy places because I wanted to make a place where no one would suffer. In fact, it was keeping me from understanding my own suffering. I made this song and this film to capture my journey of understanding.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this short?

4-5 months

3. How would you describe your short film in two words!?

Brave friendship

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

Probably my own insecurities and self doubts. But I overcame those moments thanks to the trust I had built with co-director Jeaneen and Rookie Morgan. The friendships that have grown from this project have been the greatest reward.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

Absolute joy and gratitude, feeling like I found a place to belong.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?

I don’t know if I have an exact moment. I realized I needed to tell my own stories and share my discoveries. I always did that with songs, but at certain point I just wanted to express more information than a song would allow, I wanted to add the visual dimension.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

Breathless

8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are you feelings of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

I think it’s great.

9. What is your favorite meal?

An omelet and greens.

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