Growing up as a girl, sleepovers are not exclusively about staying up all night, watching movies, gossiping, and doing each others' hair. It is also a window into the perception of a girl’s self esteem, gender roles, body image, sexuality, relationships and so much more. Local woman filmmaker/producer/director Laj P. Waghray captures these aspects on camera in her documentary “Sleepovers.” The documentary, released via Waghray’s own Red Crane Productions, premiered at the 2012 Milwaukee Film Festival (MFF). Ramon Rivera Moret served as the film's co-Producer and Katie Boulden was the film's associate producer.
On Wednsday, February 20, 2012, "Sleepovers" will be screened for the first time since it premiered at the MFF at Alverno College, an all women’s college in Milwaukee. This event, hosted by the campus’ Research Center for Women and Girls ("Research Center"), is open to the public and runs from 5:30 PM until 7:30 PM. The coming of age documentary screening will be followed by a Q&A session with “Sleepovers” producer Waghray and selected members from the cast and crew. For more details about this event, go to the Research Center online events page. To view the “Sleepovers” trailer, visit RedCraneProductions.org.
“Sleepovers” follows the lives of four childhood girlfriends Isabelle Koenig, Molly Corkin, Suzanna Sellars, and Mariah Harris at three critical ages in their lives- 12, 18, and 21. Regarding this coming of age film Waghray explained, “It turned out to be good timing because at 12, they’re entering middle school. At 18, they’re just finishing up high school and thinking of college; and at 21 they’re on the verge of finishing college.” During the course of the film, viewers witness these girls evolving views on who they are, who they want to become, and key influences while also facing some more concrete realities such as divorcing parents, eating disorders, mental health, substance abuse, death, and their own sexuality. Over the 10 years presented, the proximity of the girls’ friendships also becomes a factor in how effectively they respond to each others triumphs and trials.
As an accompaniment to “Sleepovers,” Waghray enlisted the help of Alverno College’s Research Center to develop a discussion guide for use by educational institutions, organizations as well as parents and their daughters. When Waghray was asked about the purpose of the discussion guide, she replied:
“If you or I or anyone was watching the film and using the discussion guide were going through something, then that would give them an opportunity to explore that and bring their own personal issues to the floor in hopes that somebody validates it or is there for you. It’s kind of like a support group after the film.”
“Sleepovers” is also being submitted throughout the film festival circuit and will soon be available for purchase online. For more information, visit the “Sleepovers” Facebook page and the Red Crane Productions website. WUWM radio interviewed Waghray back in September 2012 while she was promoting the "Sleepovers" premiere at the 2012 MFF. Click here for a writeup and audio of the interview.
Waghray's next film project has the working title "Searching for Sparrows" which takes her back to her hometown of Hyderabad, India and explores the impact of industrial advances on the local ecology. The film is currently in pre-production.