Feminist Film Resolutions for 2017 (& Beyond!)

by Corrina Antrobus

Corrina is thefounder and director of the Bechdel Test Fest, ‘an ongoing celebration of films that pass the Bechdel Test’.

Plenty of stats will remind you that women are not quite out of the woods in the search for better rep in film. But hey, new year, new hope and here’s to new ways of thinking that, actually, you can help chip away at the patriarchy. Here’s just five resolutions you can apply immediately in the plight for a more female friendy cinema.1. Go to see a female-led movie on its opening weekend

Opening weekend counts. Cinemas will keep a movie on their screens as long as people are turning up and putting their bums on seats. It’s a supply and demand system like any other business. If you want more female-led movies in the cinema, don’t just talk about it – buy a ticket and prove you want them there. Here at BTF we announce the female-led movie releases on our Facebook page and Twitter every Friday, so don’t say we didn’t tell you.

NZ Update 4: Writers & Directors A-Z

This is the final part of a 4-Part NZ Update series. Part 1 was Gender Breakthrough in New Zealand Film Commission Funding. Part 2 was a letter to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Women, Paula Bennett, about the New Zealand Screen Production Grant. Part 3: WIFTNZ.

New Zealand women who write and direct long-form screen works – many of them also actors – are blossoming. Five years ago, if I created this kind of list, I would have been confident that I included most of them. And because there were so few women whose work reached cinemas I also found it straightforward to offer to interview them all. Those things are no longer true. It was a fine moment when I realised I could (just about) do an A-Z of those I do know about. A less fine moment when I realised that it would take me all year to make it comprehensive: I haven't got enough time to do that.

So how did I compile this list? It's arbitrary and a little random. I thought about whose work excites me, whose work I hunge…

NZ Update 3: WIFT New Zealand

This is Part 3 of an NZ Update 4-part series. Part 1 was Gender Breakthrough in New Zealand Film Commission Funding. Part 2 was a letter to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Women, Paula Bennett, about the New Zealand Screen Production Grant. Part 4 is a not-quite-A-Z of New Zealand women directors and some writers.

So how has Women in Film & Television New Zealand (WIFTNZ) responded to the lack of gender parity between women and men who write and direct, in particular the lack of gender parity in allocation of taxpayer funding? For example, does it endorse Telefilm Canada's statement, referred to back in Part 1 and to some extent implicit in the New Zealand Film Commission (NZFC)'s latest Annual Report?–
Based on industry recommendations that these two roles require immediate critical attention, gender parity amongst directors and screenwriters was identified as a priority (emphasis added).The simple answer: No-one Knows For Sure. And because of this, I believe it'…

Treat Her Right!

New Zealand women are coming together in a New Zealand Council of Trade Unions Campaign, to tell the government that it’s time to ‘Treat Her Right’ and enforce New Zealand’s Equal Pay Act, passed in 1972. The campaign’s just started, with a remake of the Donna Summer video and song She Works Hard for the Money. It will culminate on International Women’s Day, 8 March.

Directed by Loren Taylor — one of New Zealand’s many accomplished actor/writer/directors, perhaps best known for her role in Eagle vs Shark — She Works Hard for the Money features a range of Kiwi comedians, personalities and members of the public. It was shot by 2016 New Zealand Cinematographer of the year Ginny Loane (Mahana).

New Zealand Update 2: Letter to Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett

Kia ora Deputy Prime Minster, and congratulations. 
After the news of your promotion came, and the news that you are now also Minister for Women (and Minister of various other things), it was good to hear you say that you’re a feminist, most of the time. And to read that you said ‘I hope there are some young Māori women out there watching the news tonight who say, 'in a few years that is going to be me'’. 

Does that mean you're familiar with Geena Davis' mantra, amplified through her Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media: 'If She Can See It She Can Be It'? Does it mean you're familiar with director (Selma, Queen Sugar, 13th etc) Ava DuVernay's questions
Why is it important for girls and women to see themselves on screen? ...Film is a mirror. If you don’t see yourself, does it mean you don’t exist?
And I remember a couple of years ago listening to you at the Beehive, when you launched the Jade Speaks Up project – including a short animation I scripted. …

NZ Update 1: Gender Breakthrough in New Zealand Film Commission Funding

In Hollywood, it's getting worse for women directors.  Legal action to remedy this is steaming ahead, with a high-powered summit due in March. Meanwhile women writers and directors outside Hollywood  are independently making more and more long-form projects, including many excellent webseries that bypass the ongoing problems for traditional marketing and distribution of women's work. Globally, there's also an increase in cross-border alliances among filmmakers and activists.  

With all this in mind, here's the first of a four-part series about what's happening in Aotearoa New Zealand right now, building on last year'sWomen Are *Not* the Problem?;2015'sThe Activist Complex Female Protagonist Whispers in New Zealand; my Writer and Director Gender in New Zealand Feature Films(including TV movies) list; and the other posts listed inGender Issues in Film in New Zealand.

Part 2 is an open letter to New Zealand's new Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Women,…

Result! WIFTNSW's Protests Make a Difference

Remember WIFTNSW (Sydney, Australia) and its Sausage Party, back in December? Followed by its protest about hiring a Canadian woman director for the television remake of that classic, Picnic at Hanging Rock? Those protests have borne fruit, as reported in WIFTNSW’s latest newsletter.The Sausage Party highlighted the Australian Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards(AACTAs) disproportionately low amount of nominations and pre-selected films directed and driven by female creatives. Among the twenty-eight narrative feature films pre-selected for the AACTAs Screening Tour, just two were directed by women. And, as WIFTNSW pointed out, when female content cannot reach the public voting platform in the first instance there’s no point calling for quotas in award juries. Furthermore, of the twenty-eight films selected for consideration, seven films (a full quarter of the total), violated AACTAs’ own eligibility criteria and at least two fully eligible films helmed by women wer…

Amie Batalibasi — Winner of Sundance’s Merata Mita Fellowship

Sundance’s Merata Mita Fellowship is named in honour of the late, great, Māori filmmaker Merata Mita (1942–2010). It’s awarded to ‘a Native or Indigenous filmmaker from a global pool of nominees' and provides a cash grant and a year-long continuum of support. 

This year, writer/director/producer Amie Batalibasi won the fellowship. I read her powerful acceptance speech, published in her blog, and asked to cross-post it. And Amie also agreed to answer some questions. Warm thanks to her.  –Marian Evans

My Sundance Acceptance Speech — Merata Mita Fellowship
by Amie Batalibasi

Firstly I’d like to acknowledge the traditional owners of this land, the Ute peoples. And pay my respects to elders past and present and also acknowledge other First Nations peoples in the room today.

Being here with you all, the other indigenous fellows, is an absolute honor and a privilege. I am truly grateful for this life changing opportunity.

Solving the #WomenInFilm Problem: Naomi McDougall Jones

Those women's marches were amazing. And so is the #womeninfilm movement, where women filmmakers' strategies for change are becoming ever more diverse and sophisticated. Writer/actor/producer Naomi McDougall Jones is one of the most thoughtful and energetic change agents around and Danielle Winston and the women of Agnès Films (named in honor of Agnès Varda) continue their own significant contributions with this excellent interview with her, copy-edited by Elena Chronick. Warm thanks to them all. 

DW On a frosty January afternoon, I met with with writer/actress/producer, Naomi McDougall Jones. Our hangout, a little pie shop called Four & Twenty Blackbirds, was quirky enough to have been the backdrop for a Gilmore Girls scene if not for being around the corner from the Morbid Anatomy Museum in Gowanus Brooklyn. As we shared slices of buttery lemon blackout pie, Naomi, a self-possessed woman with crimson hair and natural confidence, spoke passionately about the female cinemati…

Director Activist Maria Giese: Update on Women Directors, the ACLU & the Feds

About a year ago, I interviewed American director Maria Giese about her campaign to end discrimination against women directors in the United States. It's a collective human rights-based action that’s globally unique and significant for all of us who watch and are influenced by Hollywood entertainment. Here’s the next chapter of Maria's story, in two parts: a summary for everyone, followed by the deep nitty gritty for women directors and our allies.


WW What have you been up to?

MG It’s been quite a year. After 20 years, I left LA and moved to Connecticut with my husband and two children to write a book, Troublemaker. It tells the story of my Hollywood insurgence and my battles in the Directors Guild of America (DGA) during the past 5 years, with a bold group of other women directors. It also describes my journey getting the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to launch the campaign for women directors that led to the current Federal government’s investigation, by ‘the Fe…