Could I? Do I? How do I?

Marian Evans, who writes a blog about her work and women in the New Zealand film industry (sister blog to Her Film, by the way — see the page link above), wrote a piece about getting into film and shares some fascinating insights about the New Zealand film industry.  Women don’t often take the same path as men, and Marian herself is a filmmaker (Development) who is trying to move NZ toward gender parity in the percentages of films made in New Zealand by New Zealand filmmakers.  Her research for her Ph.D. focused on this issue.   An excerpt from her blog post this week reads:

Other women, like me, are drawn by the feature film’s long form, the idea of a big screen and a community sitting in front of it, watching my film together. (I also love the idea of distributing a film through the internet and on cellphones.)

To make a feature film, we need money. In New Zealand that usually means approaching our state film funder, the New Zealand Film Commission (NZFC). And according to my PhD research it has a gender problem: its investment in women writers and directors is far less than its investment in men, in its feature film programmes, in its short film programme—the traditional ‘pathway’ to feature filmmaking—and in various other programmes. This is a concern, because New Zealand ratified the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1985; as a state, New Zealand—and its agencies, like the NZFC—must encourage the participation of women in public life on equal terms with men (article 7). And screen-based storytelling is certainly part of public life.

Who’s Where and What’s What!

In part due to the recent launch of the “You Cannes Not Be Serious” campaign by several groups to protest the glaring lack of women filmmakers at the Cannes Film Festival this year, I’ve started paying particular attention to where women filmmakers are and what they’re doing.   Because women filmmakers are routinely shut out, ignored or otherwise overlooked, it IS news when a woman filmmaker or a team of women filmmakers has their work shown at a festival, on public television or receives a large theatrical opening.

Here’s what’s jumped out at me over the past few days:

* Iranian filmmaker Kiana Firouz (Cul de Sac) may be deported to Iran if her U.K. asylum request is denied.  Due to her being a lesbian, she is subject to Iranian corporal punishment, and eventually death, if she is returned to Iran.  A petition is circulating to oppose her deportation from England.

The Kids are All Right will open the Los Angeles Film Festival in June.  Lisa Cholodenko (Laurel Canyon, High Art) directed & co-wrote this film.  All three of her past features, including this one, have screened at Sundance.

Project Kashmir will be broadcast on U.S. public television (PBS) on Tuesday, May 18.  Directed, written and produced by women filmmakers, Senain Khashgi and Geeta V. Patel, it will be the featured “Independent Lens” film this week.

Jane Campion (Bright Star, The Piano, An Angel at My Table) won a shared award with another woman filmmaker, Aviva Ziegler, at the New South Wales Premier’s Literary Awards in Australia on May 18, 2010.

*  A panel on Women in Film was held at the American Pavilion at the Cannes Film Festival and moderated by Anne Thompson of Thompson on Hollywood.

*  Filmmaker Cheryl Dunye (My Baby’s Daddy, Watermelon Woman) won the inaugural Director’s Award at the Boston LGBT Film Festival the first week of May.

* Karyn Kusama’s far-off project to star Rachel Weisz got a little press last week.  Kusama is writing and will direct what she calls a “Cronenberg-inspired body horror” story.

* New Zealand director, Gaylene Preston (Perfect Strangers, War Stories, Bread & Roses), is in Cannes this month to screen her film, Home By Christmas.

* The new (spring 2010) issue of Filmmaker magazine surprisingly covers a range of women filmmaker’s new projects!  Films by Laura Poitras (My Country, My Country), Debra Granik, and Jessica Oreck are all featured.

Start a Revolution from My Bed

This blog is about films made by women.  Forgive me, Tori Amos (whose wonderful lyrics serve as the heading of this inaugural post), I plan to do much more than what you so wittily refer to John & Yoko doing.  Sure, there are plenty of blogs out there in the ‘sphere about women as filmmakers, women in filmmaking, women in film, and on and on.  What’s missing is the, dare I say, “personal touch”?  No, this is not a feminine hygeine product commercial. We have stories, we have dreams, we have goals for ourselves and our projects, personal challenges and joys that set us back or move us forward.  It is in the sharing of our journey that we may become empowered as a group to form a movement of women storytellers.  Her Film is a blog meant to help foment a larger movement of collaboration, cooperation and mutual support among women filmmakers .


Women making films and the people who love them, hear and see day in and day out the personal, professional, creative and financial challenges that must be overcome in order for women’s stories to be seen and heard on the big screen.   Let’s talk parity.  Melissa Silverstein’s fascinating and in-depth site, Women & Hollywood, breaks down the numbers for the year 2009.  One quick stat from her site:  Women directed 7% of the top 250 grossing films.  This is but one reason why Kathryn Bigelow’s Best Director Oscar win was and shall remain SUCH a big deal.

If you want to connect with other women filmmakers and learn about their personal journeys in bringing a story to the big screen, or if you’d like to share YOUR story, please join us here at Her Film.

– SEND us a link to your film

– COMMENT on our stories and interviews

– SHARE your story with us

– RECOMMEND other sites, projects and filmmakers to us

We will return soon with more about the personal journeys of women filmmakers.

Please join us, because your film is news!