Skip to main content

NZ Update #14: Welcome To A Local #MeToo Organisation, SWAG!



I’m delighted that a group of women from the Aotearoa New Zealand screen industry have set up SWAG, a #MeToo action group, supported by former Green MP Catherine Delahunty (who stepped down at the last election after being the party’s spokesperson on many issues including Women and Arts, Culture & Heritage). Warm thanks to all of them and every good wish for their work!

It's a timely announcement. We need this kind of action.

Over the last decade I've heard many stories about abuses of power over women in Aotearoa New Zealand's screen industries, though very few about sexual assault, the main theme of the #MeToo campaigns. But earlier this week, a group of actors and producers called for a boycott of former Shortland Street star and acting coach René Naufahu, after he was sentenced to a year’s home detention for indecently assaulting six students during his acting classes.

Kate Elliott, winner of Best Actress at the 2017 New Zealand Television Awards, posted this on Facebook.



And others did share their own posts, including actor Chelsie Preston Crayford and actor/screenwriter Sophie Henderson. It's great to see them speaking out.

So here's the announcement–

SWAG (Screen Women's Action Group) is committed to changing the culture that enables sexual harassment, discrimination and other abuses of power over women in the screen industry. We will collect ideas and advocate for changes that will promote respect, representation and professionalism in our workplaces. 
SWAG is a single issue action group. We don't intend to be a permanent fixture in the industry – but we feel the need for some co-ordinated, specific and effective action on the #MeToo front in Aotearoa New Zealand. Specifically we will work towards an industry-wide sexual harassment policy and independent process for disclosures and complaints of sexual harassment. This may dove-tail with initiatives your organisation is already working on, hence this early contact.
It is our belief that effective change will only come about through engaging with women in all areas of our industry and involving them in finding solutions to the problems that are being voiced so eloquently worldwide.
We have put our hands up to take on this work in Aotearoa and look forward to having some conversations with you about ways in which your organisation can support us and/or be involved. The plan is to feed the results of our work back through the representative guilds and bodies to encourage an informed and co-ordinated response. 
We'll be in touch in the next few weeks about a planned meeting for women in the local screen industry which will be stage 1 of this process. 
Ngā mihi, 
SWAG
Gaysorn Thavat
Katie Wolfe
Kerry Warkia
Paula Boock
Emma Slade
Robyn Paterson
Catherine Delahunty

We can find SWAG on Facebook!


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Pause. Reflect. Cherish.

Chantal Akerman's Death
I tried to write about why I felt so deeply sad about Chantal Akerman's death, then read a post from poet Ana Božičević, who got it just right for me–
No one knows for sure why a woman takes her life but that Chantal A might have done so in part because her No Home Movie – about her mother Natalia an Auschwitz survivor, which was grueling to make – was booed...really breaks my heart this morning. I wonder always, who cares, as in provides care, for the women artists who go to deep dark uncommercial places? Which intimate understands the skill, of craft and emotion, necessary for the work that they do? I wrote in some napkin or tweet once 'they only love the Sylvias after they are dead'. Give care to the woman artist in your life even and especially when she does the hard depth work that challenges the mind and body, yours and hers. And if you are that woman, thank you today & every day. Thank you, Ana. And many thanks for letting me reprint …

NZ Update #12: Everything's Gonna Be All Right?

Look at these two! Our Prime Minister and our distinguished filmmaker and global advocate for women filmmakers meet, at last week's SPADA (Screen Production and Development Association) conference. Look at their pleasure in each other. Their body language. Their close attention.




For me, this meeting is a significant turning point in the movement to gender equity in the allocation of public money for screen storytelling. The first one was at 2015's Big Screen Symposium, when Chelsea Cohen – with support from other Māori women – spoke out  about the need to allocate New Zealand Film Commission funding equally to women and men. Our first woman writer/director/producer to do this publicly. Her courage made it safer for others to follow her example.

So: what might this Jacinda-And-Jane meeting mean?

The new government has already announced its commitment to pay equity and I think we can now be confident that gender equity will infuse screen production. I think we can also be confid…

Saving Mr. Disney: A Lesbian Perspective By Carolyn Gage

To stay focused when I'm writing intensively, I go to the movies in the afternoons. It's a kind of meditation that includes the walk down the hill to the cinema and back up again afterwards. And a few weeks ago, I saw three women-directed movies in three days: Rama Burshtein's Fill The Void, Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette's Inch'Allah and Nicole Holofcener's Enough Said. Maybe things have changed, I thought to myself, ever optimistic. But I also noticed that men wrote and directed Catching Fire, from a novel by a woman, about a young woman and produced by a woman. And then I read Vocativ's analysis of 2013's 50 top-grossing US releases. This shows that almost half were Bechdel Test-passing films and that they did better at the US box office than those that weren't. BUT except for Frozen, which Jennifer Lee co-directed (and wrote) men directed all 50. And then at the weekend, all three of the new releases reviewed in our local paper (with enthusiasm) told s…