Chain Letter Queen

Miranda July's mission: Get more grrls on film

| January/February 2001 Issue

Remember chain letters? Back when you were a kid, if someone sent you one you probably followed their instructions slavishly, hoping that if you sent copies to six of your friends, your mailbox would soon be bursting with packages from around the world. That hope, and the feeling that you were somehow part of something larger than yourself, was thrilling. Whether you actually received any of the promised bounty was secondary.

Miranda July, a Portland, Oregon–based actor, performance artist, and filmmaker, remembers the power of chain letters. In fact, she’s started one of her own. The only difference is that July’s chain has a mission, and those who take part actually see a payoff.

A chain letter with a mission? A few years ago, when July, now 26, was just getting started making movies, she was looking for a way to encourage other young female filmmakers. "It felt like there weren’t that many of us out there," she says. "But I knew there were, somewhere." Because it would be logistically and economically impossible to gather a symposium of grrl directors from all over the world, July came up with the idea of creating a video chain letter.