Saturday, December 21, 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 television directors in the United States. Many thanks, Maria. 

Warm thanks to all of you who've read Wellywood Woman and commented, tweeted, phoned, Skyped and emailed me this year. And a special thank you to each of you who have guest posted or taken part in an interview: you've been delights! Every good wish for 2014. – Marian

'Next thing you know, they'll be wanting to direct'

Saturday, December 7, 2013

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 successful and award-nominated German movies and television films.

I've evaluated four groups of German fictional films from 2012: top-grossing films in German cinemas, nominations for the German Film Awards, top audience TV productions and nominations for the Grimme TV Award. And I've recorded the participation of women in 11 departments: direction, script, production, cinematography, sound, production design, costume design, make up, editing, casting and music. To do this, I've used the websites of Deutscher Filmpreis/German Film Award, Grimme TV Award, ARD-Tatorte (these are the most successful TV productions every year, a crime investigation series), Crew United, IMDB, the websites of individual films and Wikipedia. From these sources alone it was not possible to discover all the participants, but all gaps were closed after mail or telephone inquiries, except for one position: that of the set production of one TV film.

Friday, December 6, 2013

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 storytellers who are fluent with  technology (and crowdfunding), especially in NEXT <=>. And some evidence here in New Zealand that there's a new generation of women who create highly successful short projects outside the 48 Hours competition, where women are still profoundly under-represented, as they are in almost all local film contexts. So, today, celebrating the NEXTS, at Sundance and here.

The full list of Sundance 2014 projects that women-directed is at Women & Hollywood. Some sections are disappointing for those of us who look for films by and about women. But NEXT <=> has five films directed by women, five by men and one by a man and a woman. Kristin Gore co-wrote a seventh film, War Story. NEXT <=> films are described as–
...sure, bold works distinguished by an innovative, forward-thinking approach to storytelling... Digital technology paired with unfettered creativity promises that the films in this section will shape a 'greater' next wave in American cinema.
I'm thrilled that women are strongly represented in this section because of its orientation to the future. I'm thrilled at the diversity of the writers/directors. I'm thrilled that there's a strong group making films about sexuality. And thrilled to recognise some work from their crowdfunding campaigns.

Desiree Akhavan