Director’s Statement

By Stephanie Gardner – “33 and Me” Creator, Director and Host

At the age of 33, I am not so young anymore, nor do I feel very old.  I have significant creative and professional accomplishments under my belt, yet I still have my entire life ahead of me; a lot of aspirations in my career as a filmmaker; and hopefully, many more exciting adventures ahead.

As I continue my journey as a filmmaker, I realize that I am coming from a very specific perspective:  I am a single, millennial, American, woman who has managed to produce works of theatre and film since I was in my teens.  

I am engulfed by a strange and surreal world, where we are bombarded by messages to “fear the other” and encouraged to isolate ourselves into our own increasingly nationalistic societies.  As a result, the idea of a free press in many places around the world is being unravelled.

However, I feel fortunate to have been raised in an American democracy under the freedoms and ideals that were fostered, and I value the notions of “freedom of speech,” “freedom of religion,” and the “pursuit of happiness.”  I realize that I may not be the same type of filmmaker I am today without the influences of these powerful and liberating ideals. 

Also, I have been lucky enough to have the opportunity to live and work abroad.  I have lived in countries that do not extend these same ideals to their citizens.  These experiences living abroad, in places which censor its artists, have taught me to not take “freedom of expression” for granted.  This is one reason why I am compelled to embark upon the “33 And Me” journey.  

I truly believe that we as individuals need to connect with others around the world to better understand ourselves and our place within it, and for our societies to survive. 

Much of the world appears to be embracing extremism and choosing isolationism over globalism.  I choose globalism, and I feel very strongly about this.  

Thus, through “33 and Me,” I endeavor to cross borders and discover what other 33-year-old filmmakers around the world, who are at similar stages in their lives, are experiencing creatively, professionally, and personally.  What types of films are they making?  What stories and themes are they exploring?  What genres and visual styles are they drawn to making films?  How do they perceive themselves in their lives and careers?  What are their hopes, dreams, and desires?  

I wish to seek out creative individuals who innovate, inspire and challenge the status quo.  In this process, I plan to foster connections around the world among talented, intelligent, and creative individuals; to form life-long friendships and future collaborators; and to help promote the empowering expression of cinematic arts.

A large part of why I make films is to connect with and connect to other human beings.  This is why I am compelled to make “global films,” so as to connect across cultures around the globe in a shared experience.  I believe that communicating with others around the world, in expression, in thought, and in shared empathy is incredibly important to a happy, healthy, peaceful society.

The art of cinema is my love and passion.  Travel is how I find knowledge, inspiration, and connection.  Combining these two endeavors will lead to magical, meaningful, inspirational moments.  Perhaps, through “33 And Me,” I will learn a bit about life, love, cinema, history, others, and me.