An upcoming fan documentary film aims to bring the female part of the Star Wars fandom to the forefront. The passion project titled Looking for Leia – referring to Carrie Fisher’s iconic character Princess turned General Leia Organa will highlight women who have a deep passion for the space opera and ask them how a science-fiction film franchise has impacted their lives.
Even before the clamor for diversity in Hollywood, Star Wars has already been a pioneer in bringing empowered women to play significant roles in their narratives, case in point – Leia. But over the years, the lore continues to be populated with powerful female characters. The prequels had Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman), TV shows like The Clone Wars had Ahsoka and Star Wars Rebels has Hera and Sabine. More recently during the renaissance of the franchise, Rey (Daisy Ridley) is the main protagonist of the sequel trilogy, and Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) was the star of the first spinoff, Rogue One. In hindsight, there is no scarcity of female role models in the series and Looking for Leia wants to explore that notion further by talking to multigeneration female fans who can share their stories of how these fictional characters have inspired them in their day-to-day lives.
The force behind the documentary is self-confessed fan and filmmaker Annalise Ophelian. She recently spoke to CBR and provided some details on how this passion project came to be. As it turns out, Ophelian got the idea from her own interactions with other female fans during 2015 Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim, California. At one point, she says that she even wanted Fisher to partake in the project but given her untimely passing, Ophelian now relates the actress as some kind of Force ghost guiding them to finish the project:
“Originally, I conceived of it as a sort of road trip in which I would go around and talk to female Star Wars fans, and I was convinced I would culminate with finding some way of getting Carrie Fisher to sit down and talk with me on camera. I was already starting to think, “How do I get Fisher’s people to let her be a part of this? How much of the film will I have to show her to get her to come on board?” Then when she passed last December, I was just gutted. I don’t know that I’ve ever grieved so much for a person that I didn’t know, like so many people. I already had my tickets to Celebration Orlando and I said, “That’s it. I can’t make the film now,” and my partner’s like, “Absolutely you have to make the film.” So it shifted with my imagination of what the narrative was going to be, but also been kind of wonderful, because I do feel like Carrie Fisher’s been looming like a Force ghost over the whole project in this really beautiful way.”
Ophelian adds that to her, it was interesting to study the differences between fans of the property since it came out in 1977 to younger ones whose first exposure to the mythos were from later productions from the Star Wars franchise. “The newer generation that’s really connected with the prequels, but also especially with the animation and these new films, are also connecting with projections of themselves. I love hearing the multigenerational stories,” she shares.
The project is not affiliated to Lucasfilm and a Kickstarter fundraiser has been established to help with the cost of producing the documentary. But the concept is very interesting in terms of the parallels of increasing prominent female characters in the lore and the women they inspire in the real world, Ophelian is positive that they can move forward with the project. Furthermore, with a fan community as supportive and as involved as Star Wars has, it will not be difficult to get support from her peers.
It is only unfortunate the Fisher could no longer partake in this project given the predicament. Given how passionate she is about women empowerment, especially in the Star Wars fandom, we’re almost sure that she would not think twice about getting involved. Despite this, there is a slew of other actresses who are part of the franchise that Ophelian and her team can reach out to and talk about the lasting impact of their characters to the fans and vice versa.