Sunday, May 22, 2016

New Zealand On Air's Diversity Report

A fabulous first!

New Zealand on Air (NZ On Air), our government broadcast funding agency, invests in local television, radio, music and digital media for New Zealand audiences. It's required to consider audience diversity and has just produced its first NZ On Air Diversity Report.

The report shows the gender and ethnicity make up of ‘above-the-line’ roles in screen productions that the agency funds.

Here's the full report, which covers the 2014/15 and 2015/16 years, for projects completed by April 2016. And here's its infographic, summarising the report's findings.



This will be an annual report. This one shows–
Women comprise 55% of funded television producers, 33% of television directors and 38% of television writers or researchers.

Women are most under-represented in drama, where they make up just 11% of all directors. (This is a really important bit of data, at last!)

Pākehā are over-represented in all roles, compared to general population statistics.

13% of television directors identify as Māori (a little under the census figure of 14.9%). (I wonder how many of these are women, given that we haven't had a feature film directed by a Māori woman since 1988 and one reason sometimes given for this is that Māori women prefer to work in television.)

1% of television producers identify as Asian compared to 11.8% of the population at the last census. (I wonder how many of these are women.)

12 % of directors identify as Pasifika, exceeding the national population figure of 7.4%. (I wonder how many of these are women.)

Trends are similar in digital media production, although there was a higher representation of Pacific people among directors at 14%, and writers/researchers at 17%.

Beti Ellerson & ‘African Women In Cinema’

Beti Ellerson (photo: Christophe Poulenc)

Beti Ellerson established the Centre for the Study and Research of African Women in Cinema | Centre pour l’étude et la recherche des femmes africaines dans le cinéma in 2008. It is a virtual, dynamic and in-depth archive of information on the research, study and documentation of African women in cinema. Beti’s African Women in Cinema in French and English, is a database with a lively blog, details about women filmmakers, video interviews, essays and reviews and various associated social media accounts. In today’s intense dialogue about inclusion in filmmaking it’s a vital resource and I want to celebrate Beti and her work.




How did the centre start? Were you a filmmaker?

This passion began twenty years ago. It grew out of my desire to continue my post-doctoral research project, entitled African Women in the Visual Media: Culture and Politics, that I started as a 1996–1997 Rockefeller Humanities Fellow. I was really interested in being a cultural activist, extending my interest and work beyond the academy. I had already studied film history, criticism, and analysis. I wanted to actively engage with the moving image and to better understand its process; hence, I acquired skills in scriptwriting, video production, editing and television production at the local public access community television.


Saturday, May 21, 2016

Women Win At Cannes: Will We All See Their Films Though?

Andrea Arnold dancing with her beautiful American Honey cast

What an exciting Cannes it's been! Lots of debate about films directed by women and about how we can get more of them. And although there are only three women-directed films among the 21 films in the main competition, 12 of the 21 have female protagonists. What does that mean for the future?

I've had a fine time watching Cannes online, through its official streaming, on Youtube and including some of the women's events run by Kering's Women in Motion programme. Is Cannes Any Better? I asked in one post. Maybe it is. Here are the women directors and writers among the prize-winners in various categories; and an actor. But note this–
I knew about Jane Campion being the only woman to win a Palme d'Or but this too is significant. 1961!!!

Now the big question is: Will these Cannes 2016 directors' work be well distributed, right around the world? I hope so! (I have great hopes of Tanji, a partnership between Echo Media and Tangerine Entertainment, the first mobile app to curate, personalise and guide us to women-centric film, tv and online content, but that won't resolve distribution problems.) 

We Do It Together

Marianne Slot, Chiara Tilesi, Patricia Riggen and Juliette Binoche speak at Cannes
We Do It Together is a globally oriented non-profit production company, founded by Italian producer Chiara Tilesi. It's a wonderfully ambitious concept. According to its website We Do It Together aims–
...to use the power of cinema, and all those who join us, to stir and shake human hearts and minds, to balance these numbers and change deep-seated perceptions about female stereotypes. As a first practical step, we feel that the way to make this a reality is to give women from around the world a concrete way to express themselves, their talent, and tell their stories.

We will choose a diverse group of female directors to join us in making films that will challenge and dismantle these perceptions. We feel that good intentions are not enough, and that when given the chance, women will deliver compelling, accessible, and equally commercial stories, and break down these invisible walls in doing so. Outworn stereotypes will give way when we defy the status quo. We have been joined by producers, writers, agents, managers, University Presidents, renowned professors, actresses, actors, directors, from Hollywood, and from around the world.
It has just announced its first project at Cannes, where it also presented one of the Women in Motion panels. The project, Together Now, seven short films in one, each pairing a woman director with a prominent actress. The directors who have signed on include Robin Wright, Catherine Hardwicke, Katia Lund (All the Invisible Children), Patricia Riggen (The 33), Haifaa al Mansour (Wadjda), Malgorzata Szumowska (Elles) and Melina Matsoukas (Beyonce's Formation). Freida Pinto and Juliette Binoche are among the actors attached.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

#DirectedbyWomen is back! For all of September!

Barbara O'Leary

Women’s film activism goes from strength to strength. 

Part of this is due to sustained commitment from organisations like Bitch Flicks, Le Deuxieme Regard, the European Women’s Audiovisual Network, Raising Films, the Swedish Film Institute, Women Make Movies and many others; and from women’s film festivals and scholars within the academy. 

There are also many individuals, like Beti Ellerson at African Women in Cinema, Destri Martino at The Director List, Melissa Silverstein at Women & Hollywood and the Athena Film Festival, versatile independent film writer, critic and poet Sophie Mayer and Maria Giese, the extraordinary director who initiated the American Civil Liberties Union investigation into discrimination against women directors that has blossomed into a United States federal investigation. 

Among these brilliant individuals there’s also director, producer, activist, distributor Ava DuVernay who has effected – with collaborators – a one-woman revolution for black women directors. Here’s a recent instagram from her, with two of the six women directing episodes of a series adapted from Natalie Baszile’s Queen Sugar.



Barbara O’Leary is another of these activists. Last year, she initiated a two-week worldwide viewing party, to encourage us all to watch and celebrate films by women directors. Now she's sent out her invitation to a second party–

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Ivana Massetti & Women Occupy Hollywood

Ivana Massetti & the Swedish Film Institute's legendary Anna Serner
#Womeninfilm activists continue to build powerful cross-border networks. Ivana Massetti is one of these activists, a filmmaker with a new TV show, who this year founded Women Occupy Hollywood (WOH), to help bring the voices of women filmmakers to the forefront. She spoke with Niger Asije of the New Current (tNC) about her filmmaking and inspirations as well as what she hopes to gain from WOH.

Hi Ivana, many thanks for talking to tNC, how’s things going?

Hi Niger! Everything’s going very well! So many things are happening right now that make me euphoric! Not just in my life but in the entire world. Women are in the spotlight. The world is talking about women and gender equality. Awareness about the injustice women are suffering not only in the entertainment industry but in every field of society, is spreading everywhere. Awareness brings change. And we need change. We can’t continue to accept a narrative that is coming from just one point of view, that of the male, and to be more exact, of the white male.

Women must participate equally in the cultural conversation of our society!

Great to hear about your TV/Digital Series One Day In America. What does it feel like to be working on the pilot?

One Day In America is a passion project. It’s a reflection through narrative fiction of the states of Justice in the U.S. A series of intertwined fictional stories, linked together by the common denominator of justice, all happening on the same day. The series deals with the most controversial issues that divide the country. The pilot is seven intertwined stories about Americans who are dealing with immigration, an eviction, the death penalty, their sexual identity, the danger of guns, violence in video-games and sexual abuse in the Church. Those are some of the issues we are facing in the series. The kind of social issues that we confront every day in our communities, work places and personal lives. The tone is dramatic but with hints of humor and each one of the stories ends with a twist.

How did the series come about, have you been working on the idea for awhile?

I have made films and lived in many places, and wherever I lived, I wanted to participate in social advancement and social awareness with my work. Because there are issues that were and are very close to my heart, like sexual violence against women, women’s rights, child abuse, elderly rights etc, from the very beginning of my career I created series of short films about those themes. From the beginning, I preferred the fictional medium, the film medium. I believe that the filmmaker’s eyes, heart and mind must filter reality, and give birth to something that reflects her or his point of view.

In Italy and in France I created a series of short films called Cinema Against Violence. They examined many aspects of violence in our society.