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Showing posts from 2013

'Women Directors Can Sue Everyone!' A Short Play by Maria Giese

It's summer solstice here and the long summer break has begun. It's been a busy year for women's film activists around the world. And sometimes a hopeful year. So much research and discussion and interconnection. But not yet enough films, though there are occasional exceptions. For instance, last week the Dubai International Film Festival programmers announced that  women directed 40% of the films  they selected for their Arab programme segments.  'Women Directors Can Sue Everyone!' is, I believe, an important piece about the potential for legal action by women directors and about the role of the null hypothesis, from director and activist Maria Giese – more about her below. It seems a good way to end the year, pointing to a possible direction for the year(s) to come, although what 'suing' means may be very different outside the United States legal system.  The DGA is the Directors Guild of America , the guild that represents the interests of film and tel

Women Behind the Camera in Germany, by Belinde Ruth Stieve

Germany has a huge and influential film industry, but till very recently there has been very little information available about women's participation in it, as storytellers. The state funders – as in New Zealand – appear not to record gender statistics and certainly do not make them public. The European Women's Audiovisual Network (EWA) is aware of the lack of data in Germany and is working with the relevant authorities to change this situation. But in the meantime, Belinde Ruth Stieve has published a series of articles  in her blog SchspIN, about women's participation in the industry, in German and in English.  Here's an edited version of two of  Belinde's  posts about women behind the camera and about the need for a German version of France's Charte d'Egalité   (links below) . Many thanks to her.  For weeks I've been planning it and now finally it’s done. Here are some statistics on female filmmakers behind the camera in commercially succes

Celebrating the 'NEXTS' at Sundance and in New Zealand

Last year, I wrote a series of posts about a possible golden age for women's filmmaking (links below). I felt optimistic because accessibility to filmmaking has never been easier, because activists are linking up globally and because women are exploring new ways of working together that include a 'quiltmaking' model. This year, there were disappointments.  For instance, the Catching Fire producer, a woman – Nina Jacobson – shoulder-tapped men to write and direct the story adapted from Suzanne Collins' work. And there's Gravity , protagonist Ryan Stone's (Sandra Bullock) film, also written and directed by a man. Why aren't there more blockbuster films with women protagonists that are written and directed by women? As films about women become more common, will films by women also become more common? I hope so, but am not confident. But it's great to see some evidence in the Sundance selections for 2014 that there's a new generation of women storyt

Jane Campion's Workshops # 4 – Participants Speak

Jane Campion, Circa Theatre 4 November 2013 My capacity to report my perceptions of Jane Campion's workshops was limited. So I asked some mates about their responses (plus Steve Barr because I enjoyed his tweet, below). I sent three questions– Why did you go to the Jane Campion masterclass (this was before I understood why Jane Campion called these work shops) ? Which session(s) did you choose? What did you get from it (them)? And yes, the last one is a typical eight year old's birthday question: 'Whaddya get?' Embarrassing. I was interested that those who responded to my call for help are those I think of primarily as writers and/or theatre workers, not those I think of primarily as filmmakers. Many thanks to these kind people, here in alphabetical order, linked to their Twitter accounts if they have them. And thanks to the person who missed the No Cameras message and took the photo of Jane Campion onstage at Circa. I was at first ambivalent about includi

Jane Campion's Workshops #3 – My Notes

WARNING. As you know if you read Jane Campion's Workshops #1 , I went to her workshop day at Wellington's Circa Theatre as an eager, attentive eight year old, as a terrible note-taker with an unreliable memory and as a writer who sometimes directs and produces films. I was there to learn and I learned heaps. But this is NOT an authoritative account of the day. Nor of Jane Campion's views on anything. It's a chat over a cuppa, with you other practitioners who visit here regularly, in case there's something useful for you. An extended tweet feed that partially covers three sessions of about ninety minutes each: Starting Out; Writing & Directing Film; Performance. If you perceive a gap in what follows, just insert (Laughter) or (Thought).  Because there was lots of laughter, lots of thoughtful moments. And when I laugh or think or feel I don't take notes. Tomorrow, with much gratitude, I'll post comments from others who were there, whose perceptions we

New Zealand Film Awards (The Moas)

The New Zealand Film Awards, the Moas, have announced this year's nominations . To some extent, the list's a celebration of New Zealand women's writing and directing talent and of stories about women. Four of the five nominees for Best Documentary Director are women and two of their stories are about women, Gardening With Soul and Finding Mercy. Three of the five nominees for Best Short Film Screenplay are women and two of the nominees for Best Short Film. And two of the nominees for Best (Feature) Screenplay are women. But there's no woman-directed film in the Best (Feature) Film category. No woman director nominated as Best Director. The New Zealand Film Commission’s (NZFC) gender policy failure means that Dana Rotberg’s White Lies is – I think – the only 2013-released New Zealand feature film about women which has a woman writer and director. And now, although it has eleven nominations in other categories – more nominations than two of the Best Picture/Be

The A-rating for Activists: Interview with Ellen Tejle

Ellen Tejle & an A-certificate Last week in Sweden, four independent cinemas launched an A-rating system . It's for films that pass the Bechdel Test: they include at least two named female characters who talk to each other about something other than men. The ‘A’ stands for ‘Approved’ as well as for ‘Alison’ [Bechdel], who created the test, sometimes called the Mo Movie Measure, in her Dykes to Watch Out For comic strip, in 1985. (See below for Anita Sarkeesian’s classic discussion of the Bechdel Test and a collection of responses to the announcement. Please feel free to add yours in the comments.) I’m not surprised that this is a Swedish initiative. Sweden probably leads the world in its film gender equity programmes. Sweden’s National Film Agreement contains an equality directive for the Swedish Film Institute, which funds four-fifths of Swedish films: its funding “shall be divided equally between women and men" in the key positions of director, screenwriter and

Jane Campion's Workshops #2 - Negative Capability

The idea of  negative capability ran through the Jane Campion workshops and  I've thought a lot about it   since,   linked to her suggestion that we learn a poem a week. I had an almost-memory of  negative capability in relation to Bright Star and later found this interview , where Jane Campion refers to it. I imagine that there are more Jane Campion statements about  negative capability  out there and I believe that a better understanding of it will enhance my appreciation of her work  and  help my own work. (The interview also states that– On the set of  Bright Star , she told Whishaw that for her poetry means 'openness to the divine'; her films open us all to that possibility that such a realm might exist. Before the workshops, I might have skipped reading what Jane said about poetry. But I won't do that again.) This post is for those like me who lack basic info about  negative capability . And it started on Facebook. Now that the world's celeb

Jane Campion's Workshops #1 – Starting Out

Jane Campion Last Monday was a special day in Wellington, celebrating Richard Campion (1923-2013) . As distinguished actor and co-founder of Wellington’s Circa Theatre Ray Henwood wrote– Richard was the leading figure of New Zealand theatre during the latter part of the 20th Century and we are privileged to remember him as an important part of our history and the first man of New Zealand professional theatre as we know it today. At the Paramount Theatre at 4pm there was ‘a celebration of Richard Campion’s work and the life force of theatre’ and before then one of Richard Campion’s daughters, Jane Campion, ‘shared the love’ at Circa, where he had often been in the audience. This is how she announced the workshop programme– My father, Richard Campion, was passionate about theatre, about performance, about creativity, about people having a go. He was a wondrously generous man who breathed warmth and belief into my fledgling hopes of making film and television. In his memo

Kathryn Bigelow, by Jennifer Ehle

Jennifer Ehle, Ralph Fiennes, Kathryn Bigelow Jennifer Ehle gave this illuminating speech last night, when Kathryn Bigelow received the John Schlesinger Britannia Award for Excellence in Directing, at the Britannia Awards in Los Angeles. It's a beautiful tribute from an actor to her director and she's kindly allowed me to share it here. I so admire Kathryn. Kathryn is a dear friend of mine. But I know almost nothing about her. I know that she brings her umbrella to share with you in the rain – as she did the first time we met; my taxi pulling into her driveway.

Ava DuVernay's Masterclass

Ava DuVernay and her Independent Spirit Award I'm a huge Ava DuVernay fan. A feature film and television director, writer, producer and distributor, founder of the African American Film Festival Releasing Movement (AFFRM), she also makes branded entertainment. She won the Best Director Award at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival for her second feature film Middle of Nowhere , and was honoured with the 2013 John Cassavetes Independent Spirit Award and the Tribeca Film Institute 2013 Affinity Award. I think of Ava DuVernay as a visionary, from whom all filmmakers can learn. Take AFFRM for example, a distribution collective of black arts organizations dedicated to quality black independent films. Is this a model that could work for women's independent films, too? And what about her smart approach to branded entertainment? If we're concerned with the way women are represented, and the compromises of 'commercial' work, what can we learn from her work for Miu Miu a

Make My Movie: Women's Horrors To Vote For

I didn't analyse the Make My Movie entries this year, to check out how many women participated. But four out of twelve finalists are written by women and a fifth is written jointly by a woman and a man. Warm congratulations to all these finalists, listed alphabetically by project. You can vote for a project by clicking on the link provided. Please do vote for the projects you like the look of, because the prize is a $200,000 cash grant from the New Zealand Film Commission and Darksky Films/MPI Pictures – if you vote, we could have a new feature from a woman quite soon! The Card Game Written By Kathryn Akuhata-Brown A stranger joins a small town poker game and sets about winning everything from the players until they have nothing left to gamble but their children. A  Kathryn Akuhata-Brown  Film
 Collision Written By Maile Daugherty At 2am, on a pitch-black country road, a car is involved in a violent full-speed head-on collision. As ambulance, police

13 Myths Hollywood Uses to Discriminate Against Women Directors

The networks of women working for change in the film world are growing all the time. And they're making powerful connections across borders. From now, from time to time I'll cross-post writing from other activists . Today's article from Maria Giese of Women Directors Navigating the Hollywood Boys Club seems a fine place to start: many of the myths she identifies are alive and well all over the world. drawing: Daniel Dejean By Maria Giese , of Women Directors Navigating the Hollywood Boys Club 1. The number of women directors is so small because women are not really interested in directing and few women are exceptional enough to do a man’s job. Right, so 3,500 women DGA members pay their union dues just for the hell of it! Believe us—we ARE interested! 2. The ratio of women directors is improving—it’s just going to take time. The ratio hasn’t changed significantly since the advent of cinema 100 years ago. How much more time shall we plan on waiting? 3

Sharing The Love

Jane Campion (photo Duncan Inns, courtesy Arts Foundation) It was a beautiful end to a beautiful week for New Zealand women writers. There’d been celebration all the way. One hundred and twenty-five years since Katherine Mansfield's birth (14 October). And on October 15 – in NZ or the UK – Ella Yelich-O'Connor (Lorde) and her co-writer Joel Little won New Zealand's most prestigious songwriting award, the APRA Silver Scroll , for Royals  – it was also Royals ' third week at no 1 on the US singles charts – writer/director Jane Campion was made an Arts Laureate by the New Zealand Arts Foundation – at last a formal New Zealand acknowledgment of her brilliance – and Eleanor Catton won the Man Booker Prize for  The Luminaries . ‘What do you have in your water there?’ someone emailed me from overseas, and that reminded me of a passage in Virginia Woolf's A Room of One’s Own– …it is time that the effect of discouragement on the mind of the artist should be measur

A Charte de L'Egalité for French Film Industry: Feminists Make History

l.-r. Veronique Cayla, Najat Vallaud Belkacem, Aurélie Filippetti, Frédérique Bredin;  Bérénice Vincent at back It was a beautiful day. Screen Daily reported that France has launched a five-point gender equality charter for its film industry, put together by  Le Deuxième Regard , a Paris-based ‘lobby’ (read ‘activist’) group founded by Bérénice Vincent, Delphyne Besse and Julie Billy, who will circulate it for signature, to all segments of the industry. As you can see in the photo, all the first signatories of the charter were women, powerful women: Veronique Cayla, the head of  Arte France  the public television channel and Le Deuxième Regard's marraine, or 'godmother'; Najat Vallaud Belkacem, the Women’s Rights Minister; Aurélie Filippetti, the Culture and Communications Minister;   Frédérique Bredin, president of the  Centre National du Cinéma et de l'Image Animée (CNC)  – the state film funding body. It remains to be seen who else will sign the charter. T

Gender & Academy Awards Foreign Language Submissions

A record 76 countries submitted films to the Academy Awards Foreign Language category. Attached to these films are 79 directors, 17 of them women. That's 21.5%, which I believe is at the higher end of the proportion of feature films directed by women, globally . The three women in this list who are joint directors all share that credit with men. (WHY are there so rarely women who co-direct?).Any guesses about which of these will be among the few actually nominated? Or might win? I suspect that in this context Haifaa al-Mansour's  Wadjda  will be up there. I've seen so few of these films though. There's a fine opportunity for an enterprising person to set up an online festival (hello Indiereign , hello MUBI ) , so we can all share the delights of the very diverse directors' achievements! Images of the directors are on my Pinterest board, Oscars 2014 Women Directors . Hoping this board will flourish over the next few months-- Here's the list:

Annie Collins, NZ editor extraordinaire

Gardening With Soul has just gone into New Zealand cinemas. Jess Feast’s doco about Sister Loyola Galvin is a beautiful story about a nun in her nineties, a member of the remarkable Sisters of Compassion Order, founded by  Mother Suzanne Aubert (1835-1926) , who work ‘in a spirit of compassion, openness and integrity to meet the needs of the aged, the sick, the oppressed and the powerless in our communities’.    Gardening With Soul follows last year's How Far is Heaven , also about the order, directed by Christopher Prior and Miriam Smith. To celebrate  Gardening With Soul , I decided to interview its editor, Annie Collins. Annie’s a legend. She’s worked on every kind of project imaginable: many features (including New Zealand classics from Sleeping Dogs and Goodbye Pork Pie , to Scarfies and Out of the Blue – Best Editing Awards for both as well as for last year’s Two Little Boys – to Lord of the Rings and this year’s Shopping ); countless docos (a special love); sh

NZFC Fresh Shorts Funding 2013 – Women Directors Do Well!

The New Zealand Film Commission has green lit sixteen short films, eight in the Fresh 10 group ($10,000 budget) and eight in the Fresh 30 ($30,000 budget). Great to see that half have women writer/directors, many congratulations to them all!  The notes are via the NZFC, where the selection panel included: Chris Dudman (Director), Tina Cleary (Casting Director), Daniel Joseph Borgman (Writer/Director), Bonnie Slater (NZFC Professional Development Executive), Briar Grace-Smith (NZFC Development Executive) and Lisa Chatfield (NZFC Short Film Manager).  Here are the stats, thanks to Lisa Chatfield and Chantelle Burgoyne: Fresh 10: There were 45 women directors across 149 submissions – 30.2% and women directors were attached to 31% of the shortlisted projects.  Fresh 30: There were 25 women directors across 86 submissions – 29.1% and women were attached to 29% of the short-listed projects.  There were a few instances of co-directing teams.  Five documentaries were submitte