A formidable female warrior, empowered by the gods to save the world with the help of an all-woman army. Nope, it’s not the big screen “Wonder Woman” movie (that comes out on Friday), but the Maine-made web series “Falcyyr,” from Standish-based filmmaker Ahura Z. Diliiza.
A filmmaker with a mission, Diliiza presents “Falcyyr” as a testament to strong female leads, the dedication of those making movies in Maine and an antidote to a lot of demeaning clichés concerning female protagonists. (Yes, including Wonder Woman.)
It’s also something of a deeply personal project, with the cast and crew filled with members of the Diliiza family, and the director himself writing the series’ evocative music. Here’s what he had to say about it.
So what’s “Falcyyr” about?
It’s a fantasy, inspired partly by Wagner’s Ring Cycle, about five women chosen from different times and backgrounds by the Norse god Odin and transformed into the legendary Valkyrie. Ironically, they’re chosen right at the moment of their demise. It’s either meet that demise or save the world.
What inspired you to make “Falcyyr”?
I wrote “Falcyyr” years ago with the inspiration of my wife (series star Sinari Diliiza). Whenever I look at her, she reminds me of what a Valkyrie should look like. [Laughs.] That’s sort of my take on it. So I fashioned this whole story surrounding her, incorporated Wagner and the story of Brünnhilde. I pictured her all clad in armor. That’s just the way my mind works.
The series’ descriptions (see the website at unicoviapictures.com) talk about the importance of strong, diverse, non-stereotypical female action leads. What made that so important to you?
“Ride of the Valkyries” is one of my favorite movements, but it’s ironic that every time you hear it in a movie, it always has to do with guys. I wanted to make this one about women. For example, I gave myself the supporting role of Thor, and I may rescue Brünnhilde at one point, but she doesn’t remember it. Men aren’t the main feature. Too often in movies or on TV, when there are strong female leads, the women get weak when men show up. In “Falcyyr,” they don’t need the men to handle a fight.
With “Wonder Woman” coming out — another mythical female warrior empowered by the gods — what are your thoughts?
Honestly, I take exception to scantily-clothed woman warriors, with their vital parts all exposed. Wonder Woman is essentially out there fighting in her bra and panties. [Laughs.] It doesn’t make sense to me. There’s no nudity in my films and no profanity; I try to find ways to express myself without them. Plus, there’s a bit of “I Dream of Jeannie” or “Bewitched” about the whole Wonder Woman paradigm. As strong as the woman is, she always winds up serving men. I don’t believe the existence of women is based on men’s ideas of them. Give me Hollywood money and I could beat [DC Comics] any day. (Laughs.]
You decided to put your series online on a pay-per-view basis (at quite reasonable prices, I should mention). For Maine filmmakers, distribution is always a major issue, so what made you choose that route?
I wanted people to be able to see it, but I had to get something back. I have no budget, and this represents eight years of my life. I think that they’re worth it, and, honestly, you can’t put something out there for free or people will just ignore it. Creativity has a place, but practicality will always be king.
Speaking of practicality, the footage I’ve seen makes great use of the Maine locations. What are the benefits of filming here?
Maine has the most beautiful scenery ever. You don’t need a lot of effects or filters — the Maine sky is epic. The greenery, the land, Mainers are willing to let you film in their places. I know people who’ve made films here for decades, without finding the appreciation they deserve. But we work our butts off to create something beautiful, positive and creative, and eventually the appreciation will come. If it’s what you really want to do, film will support you. But you have to let film know you’re really interested in it.
The fantasy series”Falcyyr” is available to stream online at unicoviapictures.com. Each episode runs 10 minutes long and is suitable for the whole family. Episodes are $1 each to rent for 48 hours, or $2 to purchase for download.
COMING TO LOCAL SCREENS
Thursday: “Suited.” Documentary about six clients of Bindle & Keep, a tailoring company that specializes in making clothes for people outside the gender binary. This free screening is co-presented by the Costume Society of America, but tickets are required.
Tuesday, June 6 : “Grandma.” Lily Tomlin stars in this indie drama-comedy about an embittered, cash-strapped woman who finds herself embarking on a picaresque journey through a series of ex-lovers and friends when her teenage granddaughter shows up at her door, needing $600 before sundown. No spoilers, but this screening is presented by Planned Parenthood Maine Action Fund.