Filmmaker Barclay DeVeau’s new project focuses on one unifying and terrifying truth – when women’s voices are not heard, it is very dangerous for everyone. The Cassandra Project is a trilogy of narrative short films highlighting the reality and risks of women being dismissed and disbelieved. The project will feature the stories of three female protagonists whose voices are discounted due to gender disparity, in each case leading to extremely high stakes situations. By tying the films together in a trilogy, Barclay believes the impact will be all the greater.
On The Cassandra Project website, the team writes, “Like many of you, we have been disturbed by the current state of things in our country. So much progress has been reversed recently, that it often feels like retreat or resignation are the two most viable options. But we refuse to do that. In discussing what we can do to push back, fight and take a stand, we decided to create The Cassandra Project…The specific idea for this project came from one of our own experiences of a medical crisis that was discounted, disregarded, and disbelieved. The rest of us watched for months as our friend’s health deteriorated and she tried to get help, but it wasn’t until she was critical that she received the medical care necessary. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. In almost every scenario imaginable, women’s voices are not given the same credence as their counterparts, and the stakes for everyone are extremely high.”
That “friend” was Barclay herself, who got very sick in 2020 with a wide range of symptoms that ultimately affected seven systems of her body.
“For more than eight months, I begged doctors, nearly daily, to help me – pleading with them as I felt a poison spreading throughout my body,” Barclay said. “During this time, as I attempted to get a diagnosis and help, I was repeatedly dismissed, disregarded and disbelieved, even as my symptoms increased.”
In fact, it was not until she had a seizure – which led to a temporary coma – that she started being heard. “By that time, what turned out to be a rare bacterial infection, had spread to my heart, my brain, my autoimmune system, my neurological system, and my connective tissue, joints and muscles,” Barclay added.
Now that she’s received intensive treatment – from wonderful doctors who have given her life back – Barclay feels a responsibility to use her filmmaking skills to speak out and show how not listening to women can be a matter of life or death. The Cassandra Project (named after the Greek goddess who could see the future, but was disbelieved because of a curse) ties three very different stories together as a trilogy. The films will include Barclay’s own story, which will become a sci-fi/horror, “because, well…that’s what it was.” She’s not able to reveal anything about the other two shorts yet, but says, “trust me, they’re awesome! And we have some incredible cast members attached.”
To happen though, The Cassandra Project needs support. Shooting is planned for January and February 2023 and with completion scheduled for summer 2023. Barclay says that she will submit the trilogy to all the major film festivals and to the Academy for Oscar consideration in the short film category. The goal is to raise $50k for production costs, including cast and crew, camera, grip and lighting equipment, art department expenses, locations, permits, catering and postproduction costs.
To help Barclay make The Cassandra Project a reality, Dr. Nancy is offering to match up to $10k in donations through September 30. That, coupled with incentives Barclay’s team is offering for contributions at different levels, has helped kick off their fundraising campaign. While they’ve started strong, they still have a way to go.
“Dr. Nancy is an amazing advocate for women, and we are absolutely thrilled to have her on board as a partner in this project,” Barclay said. “Every contribution, no matter the amount, will help us raise awareness and affect change with these films; every single dollar is deeply appreciated.”
To learn more about The Cassandra Project, or to make a donation and help Barclay and her team raise women’s voices, go to www.thecassandraproject.net.