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Showing posts from 2015

Highlights

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I'm delighted that Jane Campion's now Dame Jane. Here are my other local highlights from 2015. What have I missed?

Those who spoke out in support of gender equity in allocation of film funding

This is undoubtedly the highlight of my ten years' thinking and writing about this issue, as well as of 2015. First, at the annual Big Screen Symposium, producer/director Chelsea Winstanley made  unequivocal statements about the need for gender equity in New Zealand Film Commission's allocation of taxpayer funding.


Huge respect to Chelsea, the first high-flying New Zealand woman director/ producer to speak up publicly and staunchly on this issue, except for Dame Jane. May others join her in 2016.

Then two men directors spoke out, writer/director Jonathan King and actor/writer/director Jemaine Clement. The first I noticed was Jemaine, in support of the Australian Directors Guild's call for gender equity.
@devt I would absolutely support this in NZ! https://t.co/BxeSuLrlGi — Jema…

Bord Scannán na hÉireann/The Irish Film Board's Gender Equality Plan

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It seems to have happened so quickly. In early November, Dr Susan Liddy sent a letter to The Irish Times–
Women and the Irish Film Industry

Sir, – I write in response to Una Mullally’s article ('A century on, Abbey [Theatre] still gives women a bit part', Opinion & Analysis, November 2nd) which highlights the woeful under-representation of female playwrights in the Abbey’s centenary programme.
Unfortunately, this dismal picture of exclusion is not the exclusive preserve of the theatre. It is also echoed in the Irish Film Industry, which is overwhelmingly male-dominated and lacking a strong female voice and vision. My own research suggests a mere 13 per cent of produced screenplays in the period 1993 to 2013 were written by Irish women. When women are missing behind the camera there is often a knock-on effect in front of the camera. So only 24 per cent of all produced films from 1993 to 2011 with a male writer had a female character at the heart of the narrative. In comparis…

Dame Jane Campion – A Celebration

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Warmest congratulations to Dame Jane Campion. At last. A beautiful moment.

This is a special addition to her other New Zealand honours, like her honorary Doctorate of Literature from Victoria University, back in 1999.

The announcement I read didn't say much. So here are some of the things I celebrate about Dame Jane Campion.

I celebrate her global reach as a teller of powerful onscreen stories, of course. From her first short film Peel (1982), which won the Short Film Palme d'Or at the 1986 Cannes Film Festival. To Sweetie, one of my all-time faves. To The Piano, which won many awards, including – the only woman winner to date – the Palme d’Or in 1994 and the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, one of only seven ever won by women. Dame Jane – doesn't it sound perfect (partly because adding 'dame' in this context carries a teeny Raymond Chandler-type suggestion?) – was also nominated for an Academy Award as Best Director for The Piano, the second of only fo…

Shashat: Palestinian Women Make Images

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This interview is a cross-post from African Women in Cinema's Special Dossier on Women in Cinema in the Arab World. It's here through the kindness of interviewer Patricia Caillé (of the Université de Strasbourg) and of Beti Ellerson of African Women in Cinema, whose ongoing hard work, published in French and in English, ensures that there's a rich archive of information about women filmmakers whose lives and work are locally and globally oriented, but often created outside European or Hollywood systems. That's essential information, for all of us. 

Although there are many reasons to appreciate this interview, for me it's especially illuminating because of its accounts of Shashat ['screens', in Arabic] Women Cinema's active research into the best practices for advancing the work of women filmmakers. I'm inspired by Shashat Women Cinema's ideas and its implementation and evaluation of programmes that work in highly testing circumstances. They provi…

Japanese #womeninfilm & Cathy Munroe Hotes

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I've wanted to know more about Japanese women filmmakers and women's film festivals, for ages. Like Korean women filmmakers and women's festivals, they're just across the Pacific/ Te Moana Nui a Kiwa. So I was delighted to find Cathy Munroe Hotes' Japanese Women Behind the Scenes wiki. This rich, fascinating resource offers information about Japanese women writers, directors, producers, cinematographers, art directors, continuity editors, animators, editors, experimental filmmakers and more. I was even more delighted when Cathy agreed to answer some questions.

Where I can, I've linked each woman she mentions to her page on Cathy's website. For the few who don't have a page there, I've linked to their website or another online resource.

How did your study of Japanese women directors begin? 
I have always had an interest in women directors.  In my native Canada, I was drawn to directors like Patricia Rozema (I’ve Heard the Mermaid Singing, Mansfield Park…

K' Road Stories (with a Pot Luck bonus!)

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I was excited when I heard about K'Road Stories. I love the road these short films are set in, Karangahape Road in central Auckland, where I once spent a lot of time.

I was even more excited when I saw that – funded by New Zealand On Air  – HALF of K'Road Stories have women writers/directors. This year's best Australasian example of gender equity in state screen funding?

This is what the website says–
K' Rd Stories cracks open the surface of life on Karangahape Road, revealing diverse cultures and unique voices.  Set on New Zealand’s most iconic street this collection of short films - by some of New Zealand’s most creative filmmakers - explores the uncommon, the contrasting, and the crazy.  The films premiered along an innovative screening trail on Karangahape Road in conjunction with First Thursdays on December 3rd, 2015. K Rd Stories sneaks a peek at the people and places that make this neighbourhood so infamous – and so beloved.
Facebook
Twitter
#kroadstories

The women…

A Glimpse of The Future, With Inspiring Stories

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I love Inspiring Stories and its Making a Difference film competition.

Making a Difference challenges aspiring Kiwi filmmakers to tell the story of a young person who’s doing something extraordinary.  It embraces difference of many kinds. (2016 entries open NOW!)

Inspiring Storieson Facebook & on Twitter

This year's Making a Difference winners have just been announced and just look! It's obvious that the competition engages young women and they do well. A lesson for competitions-in-general and for film organisations, as is that other young people's competition, The Outlook For Someday(Their results coming soon!)

Warm congratulations to all the winners. The future's here, right now. And it's looking good!

Overall Winner and Most Inspiring Story
Best Cinematography Award
Making A Difference Award
Sehar’s Story
Michelle Vergel de Dios (Auckland)

Social Justice Award
Open Category Award
Youth Pride, Youth Passion, Youth Change
Nina Griffiths (Northland)

Creativity & Cu…

#gendermatters at Screen Australia?

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Update and clarity here, July 2016

A couple of days after I finished this post, I received this further information, about the Screen Australia Gender Matters paper. You might like to start by reading it, here, because, who knows, with only the press release to go on I could have got it all wrong.


I liked Deb Verhoeven's response to the press release, with the link in here–
We need to focus on the values as well as the numbers: How to improve diversity in the screen industries https://t.co/QeSy4ay6pa — deb verhoeven (@bestqualitycrab) December 9, 2015 And then her tweet after she read the Gender Matters paper (so I may not have 'got it all wrong'!)–
@devt@ScreenAustralia I read the paper. It doesn't change the fact that these are not open ended commitments to diversity. — deb verhoeven (@bestqualitycrab) December 9, 2015 Filmmaker Briony Kidd (and director of the legendary Stranger With My Face International Film Festival – entries open NOW!) gave a thoughtful and measu…

Maria Giese & Her Inspiring Work To End Discrimination Against Women Directors

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Maria Giese, a director and a member of the powerful Directors Guild of America (DGA), spoke out about discrimination against women directors in Hollywood long before the those interviewed by Maureen Dowd for a major New York Times article, published a couple of weeks ago – in interviews, through articles on her blog and in other social media.

Like Lexi Alexander, Maria is a hero. She began challenging the DGA back in 2011and in 2013 moved on to ask the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Southern California to investigate discrimination against women directors.

The ACLU set up a webpage, Tell Us Your Story, where it issued a warm invitation–
If you are a director who has been discriminated against, excluded from directing jobs in television or get less TV work than your male peers, we’d love to hear your story to learn more about the experiences of women in the directing industry. Please tell us your story below.Women could respond by email or telephone, in confidence. And they …

Aidee Walker; & The Good Kuntz at 48Hours

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I've wanted to interview Aidee Walker ever since Friday Tigers/ Ngā Taika o Rāmere, which she wrote and directed, won both major prizes in the New Zealand International Film Festival's Best Short Film competition in 2013 – Best New Zealand Short Film and the Audience Award. 

Aidee's one of those inspiring, hard-working and super-versatile women we do so well here. A writer/director of short films, now transitioning to features. An in-demand actor for highly rating television shows (Mercy Peak; Outrageous Fortune; Shortland Street; and Step Dave, for which she also wrote an episode this year) theatreand short films, including her own. A director of music videos, for Anna Coddington. She's most recently been shadowing actor and director Michael Hurst through a two-episode block of SPP's Westside under the Director & Editors Guild of New Zealand's TV Drama Director Attachment Scheme. 

As well, this year Aidee was part of The Good Kuntz, the first all-women 48Hou…

Celebration! Gender Equity Initiatives in NSW; & #womeninfilm in Welly

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What amazing news from Australia, via Screen NSW (Screen New South Wales, based in Sydney) and Film Victoria (based in Melbourne)!

Gender Equity via Screen NSW

Screen NSW  has just introduced a gender equity target, of 50/50 allocation of its development and production funding programs by 2020 and will work towards reducing the industry wide gender bias against women in key creative roles.

These are the latest Screen NSW funding figures, according to Danielle McGrane of the Sydney Morning Herald
Just 28 per cent of directors and 16 per cent of writers working on features funded by Screen NSW from 2012-2015 were female. There were more female producers at 75 per cent.  For those of you outside Australasia, New South Wales is within the film funding territory also covered by the nationally-oriented Screen Australia, which has no gender policy. These are Screen Australia's figures, according to Danielle–
Just 15 per cent of directors for Screen Australia-funded features from 2009-20…

Sophie Mayer & Her 'Political Animals: The New Feminist Cinema'

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Sophie Mayer. She arrived at my place via her last book There She Goes: Feminist Filmmaking and Beyond (written with Corinn Columpar) and her beautiful, inspiring and generous online presence brings her here often (scroll to end for details). I love it that she's also a poet – and a couple of years ago, when Jane Campion gave her workshops in Wellington (we're both Campion fangirls) Sophie kindly contributed a post that explained Keats' 'negative capability'. I needed that. And I love it that she makes me laugh as well as challenging me to think and feel more fully.

I'm waiting impatiently for Sophie's new book to reach New Zealand: Political Animals: The New Feminist Cinema, and was delighted when she agreed to this interview.

One of the most interesting and challenging things about global women's film activists is that as individuals we work hard to share and understand our different views of women's filmmaking; and the different language we use to …

From Paul Feig to Agnès Films' #FavWomanFilmmaker campaign

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A great week last week, thanks to the male allies of #womeninfilm. Paul Feig tweeted several times in support of Destri Martino's fine work at The Director List, where she's created an elegant database of over 1000 accomplished women directors from around the world (more coming all the time!) and, each Friday, provides us with info about the latest crowdfunding for projects with women directors. This kind of very useful tweet –
Help @DestriMartino continue her important work by going to https://t.co/8LzP2NhdQH & clicking the Donate button at the bottom of the page. — Paul Feig (@paulfeig) November 3, 2015 On Women & Hollywood, award-winning screenwriter/director Matthew Hammett Knott wrote 'Confessions from Above the Celluloid Ceiling: The Truth About White Male Privilege'.

Kyle Buchanan produced a three-part series about women directors, starting with 100 Directors That Hollywood Should Be Hiring, continuing with 100 Women Directors: Actors, Producers, and Twi…

Dear Jemaine

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An actor going to movie premier "attends", an actress "showcases her lithe body" - what I'm saying is: how do I showcase my lithe body? — Jemaine Clement (@AJemaineClement) October 26, 2015

You make me smile.

I love it when I see you in the neighbourhood. Once every couple of years or so.

Wheeling the most elegant little pale blue bike I've ever seen, past New World.

At the polling booth at Clyde Quay School.

Striding past me, outside the fish and chippery in Majoribanks Street.

I love the way you show the neighbourhood, in What We Do in the Shadows. The first horror I ever watched (I am a wuss, a generic ancient person with shopping bags, waiting for the number 20 bus to go up Hawker Street; eating spicy eggplant at Cha; buying double ice cream cones at Kaffee Eis; in and out of the Paramount and the Embassy.)

I loved your Cure Kids project.

And I totally loved your work in People Places Things – kept reaching for 'Rewind' to have another look-and-listen,…

Afia Nathaniel, via Raising Films

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I love the Raising Films site and the women who created it.

Raising Films is visionary and absolutely necessary, building a frank-and-fearless community discussion around Family vs Film and developing a rich archive of illuminating and useful information for women filmmakers everywhere. Among other synergies, Raising Films is now associated with the European Women's Audiovisual Network and the Parents in Performing Arts campaign. And the makers – some of them mothers – provide an excellent model of being activists while also getting on with their individual work.

The women who run Raising Films are– Hope Dickson Leach, now shooting her first feature, The Levelling, funded by the iFeature programme (BBC Films, BFI and Creative England); Line Langebek, co-writer of I'll Come Running among other credits and a screenwriting teacher at Regent's University; prolific producers Nicky Bentham and Jessica Levick; writer Sophie Mayer whose Political Animals: The New Feminist Cinema

'Merata Is Always With Us'

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Aotearoa New Zealand (mostly 'Aotearoa' in this post) held its annual Big Screen Symposium in Auckland last weekend, focusing on 'strengthening our collaborative spirit'. It's run by Script to Screen, a trust whose mandate is to develop 'the craft and culture of storytelling for the screen in Aotearoa New Zealand'.

Many women participated on panels. Jane Campion took a masterclass and spoke with her Top of the Lake producer Philippa Campbell in the final session. I was catching up at home, so followed as well as I could via tweets and tumblr posts. (If I've missed something vital, please let me know?)

In his 'state of the nation' address, Dave Gibson, the chief executive of the New Zealand Film Commission (NZFC) referred to the NZFC's gender policy.


Big sigh. According to the latest figures I've seen, women are already in Aotearoa's industry: 44% of those who work there. The 'female' issue is that we're not often enough …

Jane Zusters & Her 'Where Did You Go To My Lovelies'

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Mary Dore and Nancy Kennedy's feature about the birth of the American women's movement, She's Beautiful When She's Angry, screened at the New Zealand International Film Festival this year. Afterwards, I got a group email from someone who wrote–
The younger ones wanted to know if there is a similar account of the NZ second wave of feminism.... can anyone give us a reference? Since then, I've become aware of Australian women's filmmaking in the 1970s and 1980s and I've kept my eye out for films from and about the women's movement in New Zealand in those years. But the woman-made moving image record of New Zealand activities of those times, from those times, seems to be tiny.

I’ve searched in the Nga Taonga Sound & Vision collections and I now know, for instance, that there were at least three films made in 1975: Meanwhile with a crew that included Annie Collins, Deidre McCartin’s Some of My Best Friends Are Women; and You Wanna Talk Feminism? from th…

Pause. Reflect. Cherish.

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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 …

Ghazaleh Golbakhsh; & The Waking Dream Collective

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It's been thrilling to observe some new trends among New Zealand women who write and direct film. Over the last few years, more of them (us) are also actors. More are or have been part of various diasporas into and out of New Zealand and are global citizens. And, most recently, some have begun to form collectives. These trends profoundly enrich our filmmaking. And Ghazaleh Golbakhsh, like Anita Ross, is a filmmaker who embodies all three.



Ghazaleh’s thesis film Iran in Transit, made for her Masters in Documentary at the University of Auckland, premiered at the International Student Film Festival in Tel Aviv after winning the festival’s Alternative Competition and in 2013 won the Outstanding Student Film award at the Beijing Student Film Festival. She used a Fulbright General Graduate award for further post-graduate studies in film production and screenwriting at the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles, where she became an intern for Sundance and was elected …