The Ladies Almanack

Chicago, Illinois | Film Feature

LGBTQ, Experimental

Daviel Shy

1 Campaigns | Illinois, United States

Green Light

This campaign raised $17,143 for post-production. Follow the filmmaker to receive future updates on this project.

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The Ladies Almanack is based on Djuna Barnes' 1928 novel about "Lesbian Don Juan" Natalie Clifford Barney. Shot entirely on super 8 film, this woman-powered independent epic honors heroines of art and literature, past and present. Celebrate their legacy and help us complete this important film!

About The Project

  • The Story
  • Wishlist
  • Updates
  • The Team
  • Community

The Story

Djuna Barnes privately published The Ladies Almanack in 1928. The characters in the film are the women Barnes wrote about in thinly coded language in her Almanack; Natalie Barney,  Dolly Wilde, Romaine Brooks, Colette, Mina Loy, Radclyffe Hall, Una Troubridge Lily Gramont, Janet Flanner, Renee Vivien, Sylvia Beech, Solita Solano, Lucie Delarue-Madrus, Gertrude Stein, Arthur Cravan, Thelma Wood, Liane de Pougy and Djuna Barnes herself. The narrators in the film are voiced by Hélène Cixous playing herself, Eileen Myles as Monique Wittig, and my college dance teacher, Elesa Rosasco, as Luce Irigiray.

In 1927, Natalie Clifford Barney established L'Académie des Femmes in response to the lack of support and recognition for female authors in France. These authors gathered each week for Natalie Barney’s salon at her home, 20 Rue Jacob on Paris's left bank.

The film takes place in an imaginary city comprised of Paris and Chicago, using architectural similarities to suggest that both cities are one. The communities from which we speak are made possible because of the particular spaces we inhabit. This remains true for the creation of this film. It is not just a movie, it is a movement.  In Paris, the center of our creative community is a living room in Aubervilliers. (An inner-ring suburb just Northwest of the city proper.) In Chicago, the spaces that have served and fed our artistic community for many years figure prominently in the film. Theses rooms on both continents from which the work emerges are spaces very much like Natalie's salon. The Ladies Almanack addresses the cultural importance of semi-private spaces as essential ground for social and professional self-determination.

Most of the cast is comprised of non-professional actors. They are instead artists asked to stand in for these historical figures while maintaining themselves. The intention is to highlight the living alongside the dead.  

We shot the film entirely on super 8, recording sound separately and shooting only one take to create a performative-not-quite narrative cinema space, where the seams are showing. This aesthetic recalls many of my favorite films: Lizzie Borden’s Born in Flames, Cheryl Dunye’s The Watermelon Woman, and G.B. Jones’s The Yo-yo Gang. 

The list of collaborators who have volunteered their labor and talent to make this film is extensive. Leciel’s unclassifiable music provides the gorgeous original film score, and Sarah Patten’s beautiful collages inform the look of the whole project.  

For three years, I have been working on the research, writing, fundraising, building and shooting of this movie. The community engaged in a radical remaking of this historic circle of 1920’s queer female writers has steadily grown.

This film is already a REALITY! This movie is already a MOVEMENT!  And it is beautiful. With generous in-kind donations of location, labor, costumes, and volunteers, as well as money from our community and cultural grants, we have already raised 90% of our total budget.

Now, we are asking for your support to raise the last 15,000 of a $150,000 film.  These funds will allow us to finish editing, color correction, sound mix, scanning to exhibition format, and also to promote, exhibit and distribute the film.
In other words, this fundraising campaign will allow us to bring the film to YOU!

This is my first feature film and I am so excited to share it with the world. Please join us as we remake history.


Use the WishList to Pledge cash and Loan items - or - Make a pledge by selecting an Incentive directly.

Final Sound Mix

Costs $1,500

We need to pay the sound engineer to perfect the film's soundscape before it is released.

Exhibition Scaling

Costs $5,500

The fantastic folks at Pro8mm will scan the super 8 film to digital 4K theatrical quality for just $1.25/foot!

Color Correction

Costs $1,000

Four types of film stock were used in the making of this film. Color is important.

Publicity Materials

Costs $600

Business Cards, Posters, Postcards and Flyers...

Festival Costs

Costs $1,000

Film Festival submission fees range from $50 to $150 for feature films.

Final Editing

Costs $1,200

The rhythm emotion and comprehension of a story all depend on excellent editing- help us get the final edge on this beast.

Pay the Piper

Costs $3,400

Outstanding bills include artists to be reimbursed for materials to make props and a loan that covered the cost of 65 rolls of film stock.

Titles and Graphics

Costs $800

Professional titling will put the final seal on a film in two languages about text.

Cash Pledge

Costs $0

About This Team

Daviel Shy (writer/director/DP) wrote and directed nine short films including Exercises in Buoyancy, produced with an all-female cast and crew, Das Buffet ist Eröffnet, filmed in Vienna, Austria, and The Tyrant, based on Stanley Kubrick’s notes on Napoleon. She was the recipient of the 2015 Critical Fierceness grant, A Pro8mm Film Grant and the Arch and Bruce Brown Foundation grant for The Ladies Almanack. Recent press includes interviews on Bookslut and Weird Sister. Shy’s work has been shown nationally and internationally at venues such as MIX NYC Lesbian and Gay Experimental Film/Video Festival, Queer City Cinema International Film Festival, Reeling: The Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival, Terrain Biennial, Blaze: Czech Republic, and more. She co-founded the monthly screening series L.M.N.O.P: Lesbian Movie Night Ongoing Project, running continuously since 2011. The Ladies Almanack is her first feature film.

Stephanie Acosta (Producer) is a multidisciplinary artist currently residing in Chicago and NYC where she works extensively with unseen histories, performance, experimental radio, and film. Acosta creates with NO ONE IS ANYWHERE, DAViELSHYFiLMs, and Intrinsic Grey. Her collaborators include Atom-r, Manuel Vason, and Robin Deacon. Her documentary series Fleeting Components, based on the independent radio project Radius, premiered in June 2015.

LeCiel (Original Score) is a Chicago artist born in Saint Louis in 1984. Her music blends gospel, world, hip-hop and electronic influences to create hypnotic messages that are more about harnessing the healing power of sound itself than adhering to any genre. As the vocalist, MC, performer, producer, songwriter and engineer on her tracks- She just about does it all.

Current Team