Kirschner Awarded NYWIFT Grant for Mallwalkers

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Tue, 12/06/2016 - 14:28 -- Nick Dager

New York Women in Film & Television has awarded its $7,500 Ravenal Foundation Grant to Debra Kirschner for Mallwalkers. Kirschner also wrote the script. The film follows a retired music teacher – a recent widow and a lifelong goody-goody – who is coaxed by her daughter to take daily walks in the local mall. There she connects with a wild posse of seniors who suspect foul play at the mall, and she becomes determined to put a stop to it.

The NYWIFT Ravenal Foundation Grant supports the production of a dramatic feature film from a female second-time feature film director over 40 years of age. Grant funds may be used for pre-production, production, or post-production. It’s funded by the Alan M. & Mildred S. Ravenal Foundation.

“As a filmmaker over forty, fighting for opportunities while working day-jobs, sometimes it seems like the rational thing to do is give up,” Kirschner said. “But my passion for the work keeps me plugging away – and I am inspired by my feisty characters! I want to live in their world, where it is never too late to fall in love again – whether that’s with another person, a revitalized career, or a brand-new dream.”

Kirschner is best known for writing and directing the indie feature The Tollbooth, called “a wonderfully honest coming of age film” by This film boasts a stellar cast, including Marla Sokoloff, Rob McElhenney, Idina Menzel and Tovah Feldshuh, and was nominated for the Golden Starfish Award at the Hamptons International Film Festival, among several other awards and nominations, and had theatrical, DVD and VOD distribution. Her Mallwalkers script was one of ten projects chosen for the 2015 Cine Qua Non International Screenwriting Lab in Mexico, one of three finalists for the 2016 LA Comedy Festival Script Competition, and a finalist out of 3500 submissions for the 2015 Writers Lab, presented by NYWIFT and IRIS and funded by Meryl Streep. 

Mallwalkers was chosen from a wide range of applications submitted by women filmmakers from around the country.

This is the third year the grant is being presented. Last year it was presented to Rachel Feldman for Fair Fight (previously titled Ledbetter), which is being produced by Jenette Kahn and Adam Richman of Double Nickel Entertainemnt (Grand Torino, The Book of Henry). It was previously awarded to Janet Grillo for Jack of the Red Hearts, which went on to premiere at the inaugural Bentonville Film Festival and screened throughout the country in 2015.

Filmmaker Cornelia Ravenal, who initiated the grant said, “Barriers in the entertainment industry, especially for women directors, are finally being exposed. But for women over 40, there’s an additional barrier: ageism. We hope this grant begins to address that inequity and encourages all women directors to forge ahead.”

New York Women in Film & Television