Jessica Kazamel, a feminist filmmaker and actress based in Ridgewood, released her latest short “HPV Barbie” in January. Directed by Aliza Berger and written by Lindsay Bradish, the nearly three-minute long film addresses Human Papillomavirus (HPV) with a lighthearted approach native to allergy medicine and paper towel commercials. The short features an all female production crew at Supermoon Community Art Space in Ridgewood.
“The goal for ‘HPV Barbie’ is to use an approachable and comedic tone to educate the masses, and help folks feel less alone or frightened, if they find out they have HPV and know very little about it,” said Kazamel. The video has been approved by Registered Nurses in Canada and the US.
HPV is is the most common sexually transmitted infection. HPV is usually harmless and goes away by itself, but some types can lead to cancer or genital warts. However, a lot of folks are misinformed on HPV and its effects.
In her early twenties, Kazamel started to learn more about HPV, as well as the importance of women’s health and felt that it should be more accessible. Having her younger self in mind, she was inspired to create for an audience she could connect with.
She started writing and producing shorts like Loose Linda, that address the awkward sexual situations often left out of girl talk and Hollywood movies. “I want to expand my audience as much as possible. I didn’t have access to this information when I was in highschool, and I want to change that,” Kazamel said.
The Canada native moved to Bushwick about seven years ago. The late Express Yourself Barista Bar became her studio; she would write, produce, and shoot there, befriending the owners and surrounding local establishments that would later become sets for many of her projects.
“I loved the openness and diversity in Bushwick that existed when I got here,” Kazamel said. The strong sense of community was a catalyst for new connections and creative ventures. She now has her own production company, JKLM Productions, with filmmaker, Lauren Murphy.
They produce film and commercial content, much of which addresses feminism, gender issues, and social awkwardness through a comedic, digestible lens. They’re currently working with Leslie Dianne and Mandy Weiss on their latest project, Gender Bent, a YouTube series where “famous male-lead movies are re-created with women and non-men.”
Kazamel hopes to work with more people of color, women, non-men, and non-binary identifying people, creating space for those who are often marginalized, especially in the current political climate. She also hopes to explore more subjects in the future such as gun violence, “I’m motivated to become even more vocal about these issues and reach as many people as I can.”
All images courtesy of JKLM Productions and Jessica Kazamel.