Saturday, November 2, 2013

Celebrating Woman in Independant Film

Movies are more than just entertainment, "it may not be the intent of a filmaker to teach audiences anything, but that does not mean that lessons are not learnd" (2),  states Bell Hooks in her essay "Making Moive Magic."Audiances watch films and see different lives than their own, they gain insight into other worlds.  The creation of "contemporary discourses of race, sex, and class into films has created a space for critical intervention in mainstream cinema" (Hooks, 3), but independant film can push that conversation even further.  I agree with Hooks that learning is undianable when watching a film, and "thinking critically about a film does not mean that I have not had pleasure in wathcing the film" (Hooks, 4), you can enjoy the message this medium delievers.  But who is creating these learning materials?

As we learned from the group presentation on Women in News Media, there is a small persentage of behind the scene media jobs going to women -- about 18%.  Luckily, women are getting more jobs away from Hollywood in independat films.  In studying Sundance Film Festival enteries from 2002-2012, 29.8% of filmmakers (directors, writers, producers, cinematograpers, and editors) were female. The study also found that if one woman is behind a project, there is more likely to be more woman in all behind the scene positions, "when compared to films directed by males, those directed by females feature more women filmmakers behind the camera (writers, producers, cinematographers, editors). This is true in both narratives (21% increase) and documentaries (24% increase)".  The fact that there is more woman working on documentaries is also a trend, being, "Females were half as likely to be directors of narrative films than documentaries (16.9% vs. 34.5%)". All of these facts and more can be read at the following link:

Luckily, there is a new film festival trying to celebrate woman making cinema! The Women's Indpendant Film Festival is "giving voice to the diverse and unique perspectives of women from every part of the world." In order for a film to qualify for the festival, "a woman must fill AT LEAST ONE of the following key positions on the film: Director, Producer, Writer, Lead female Protagonist, Editor, or Cinematographer."  The festival is held twice a year, in the spring and fall, and is now only in its second year!  Fall 2013 applicants are currently being accepted.  The festival features awards in narrative film, documentary, shorts, animation, music videos, and student films, like most film festivals, but also unique categories like "feminism on film" and "girls on film," where at least one of the qualifying women must be a girl under 18 years. In every category they are separate awards for writing, directing, editing, ect.  The festival screens the films in Los Angeles and the public is welcome.   

Isn't it exciting women have a place to be celebrated for their work on films!  Just like everything in life, be sure to read the small print.  Only ONE of the key positions of Director, Producer Writer, Editor, or Cinematographer must be female to enter, or even if the film features a female Protagonist it's okay.  That is why a man swept the awards at the Spring 2012 awards! Heidi Honeycott writes about this madness on her blog asking, "isn't it kind of a slap in the face to give best director, best screenplay, and best feature to one dude at a film festival for women?" Yes it seems that way and even Perry Tao who won those awards for his film Dead Inside, because it features a female protagonist, agrees "if you are pissed, I'm ok with you bringing it up with the organizers" he writes in a facebook post that Honeycott quotes, and continues to say 'I'm ok with the award given out to a female and replacing me, since I personally hate it when people categorize themselves by gender or race instead of categorizing themselves by their art. You'll never hear me calling myself an Asian Filmmaker."  Honeycott commends him on admitting to the oddity of him winning a Women's film festival, but is finds his account of being "a raceless person-filmmaker because of art" a bit of pretentious bullshit." and continues to defend "the reason he doesn't feel the need to point out that he's a male or asian filmmaker is that no one is discriminating against him. He's a man. I don't care what race you are, you're a man and you have an advantage in the film industry."  Honeycott brings up some interesting points, and has many other posts about female directors on her blog that might be worth checking out, as well as her other blog that she co-creates,

I personally do not think that Tao should be attacked for having won the Women's Independent Film Festival awards, or the other 6 men who also won categories that festival, they entered following the rules.  I do think that the rules should be changed to remove qualifying just because a movie features a female protagonist.  Just because a film features a girl as the main character, which I know from class is rare enough, shouldn't make a male director win a women's festival, one of the behind the scenes roles should have to be women as well.  There are plenty of other festivals to enter in, this one should stay a "No Boys Allowed" club. 

Works Cited:

Honeycott, Heidi. "So, A Man Won the Top Three Awards at the 2012 Women's Independent Film Festival. Huh?" Planet Etheria. May 27, 2012. Web. Nov. 1, 2013.

Hooks, Bell. "Making Movie Magic." Introduction. Reel to Real. London: Routledge, 1997. 1-5. Print. 

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