Behind the mask and mirror: an interview with Deborah Kampmeier, director of SPLit

Lindsy Bissonnette (FF2 Media): Deborah, where did the idea for your new film SPLit come from?

Kampmeier: It was about 25 years ago, I took a workshop called “Voices of the Earth,” which was based on the ancient Sumarian myth “The Descent of Inanna.” In the workshop we were creating a space that was a… supportive environment where we could reclaim and celebrate the parts of self that aren’t acceptable in patriarchal culture: pain, grief, sexuality, agony…. We honored the parts of self that have enabled us to survive and to thrive, we honored these parts that we use to get what we need. It was such an important part of the workshop the way I saw the myth unfolding.

After honoring these parts, we put them aside and set that aspect of our egos [down] to begin our own journey of our own underbelly and [our own underworld] to seek the other parts of self.  Four women would come [forward out of] the larger circle and begin mirroring the actress in the center, which was really powerful. When you mirror someone you don’t impose your own ideas or needs or agendas, you mirror exactly what you get from them. To be in the center and have your experiences really seen and heard so deeply that it can be, and is
reflected back…it was a profound experience for me.

The mirroring is an important part of the film, and it’s important for the women in the world. The resistance to mirroring and accepting the mirroring is important, especially for privileged women. They are clinging to this resistance like it’s going to save them… to let go of that and then begin the journey down [into one’s own underworld], that is so hard to do and its an essential journey that so many women in our society need.

LB: Did you use masks in the workshop?

Kampmeier: We didn’t have them in the workshop, but after I graduated acting school and did some experimental theatre in NYC, I started getting involved with masks. The metaphor for mask resonated with me in terms of how strong the social masks are with Derek and Inanna both hiding behind their own, juxtaposed with the masks in the underworld, which are a chorus of pure emotion. It’s complicated because these masks can free you but they can also trap you.

There’s something about that moment when Inanna takes the masks off the women. In true mirroring and hearing, that’s where the transformation occurs. There is value in the masks, but again, they can either be liberating and entrapping, it’s complex. For me it’s a metaphor on a lot of levels. Derek being an artist, who in a way is using his art to hide rather than reveal. 

LB: What’s the importance of this film?

Kampmeier: My hope would be that seeing this film might make a woman feel less alone in the world. Seeing this film might give a woman courage to speak her truth. I think our voices are so essential right now and when we speak our true voice we are often shamed as women. And that’s the great silencer, shame.

To have the courage to speak your truth anyway, to whisper it or scream it or to vomit it out. However it is that you get it out and fight the feeling that no one gets you, or no one hears you, speak your truth anyway. Someone out there will hear it and hopefully what they will hear is themselves. And that process of hearing and being heard and the idea of “I’ll speak my truth and you’ll speak yours” that is such an important element right now at this very moment, there is a need for us to hear each other.

I humbly say I hope someone will hear themselves when they see this film and have the courage to speak up. The more we speak…the more courage we give others to speak. I feel a movement is happening and if this film is a part of it, that would be very powerful to me.

LB: If you could give one piece of advice to others what would it be?

Kampmeier: Speak your truth. Have the courage. Find your tribe and that tribe can be one person, one person who really hears you. That can make all the difference in the world. That person who makes the right responses, or who just listens, who doesn’t try to fix you, who just is there to hear you and hear your truth. That’s a powerful ally.

© Lindsy M. Bissonnette (4/8/17) FF2 Media

SPLit, which screened at the Socially Relevant Film Festival at Cinépolis in Chelsea a couple weeks ago, is now available online. You can also purchase the film on iTunes. Click HERE to read my report from SRFF.

Director Deborah Kampmeier is also offering Skype Q&A sessions after private screenings of the film. So if you would like to set one up, you can email the company for more information at

Tags: SPLit

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