To celebrate female filmmakers, Women In Film held their ninth annual brunch in Park City, Utah, at the Sundance Film Festival this week. Along with a Directors Panel, $30,000 was given as grants, and Producer Lucy Webb and the WIF in Park City Committee were honored with a special Golden Goody Award (aka Oscar for social good.) To take you there, enjoy our HD VIDEO: Sundance 2013 - 4 Women In Film Directors.
Female filmmakers is THE story at Sundance 2013, and with 37 films made by women, this Women In Film event was the place to be. With half of the US Dramatic competition Directors being women for the first time ever, everyone we spoke to on the red carpet was excited about this milestone, including Allison Janney (“Touchy Feely”), Lynn Shelton (“Touchy Feely”), Shailene Woodley (“The Spectacular Now”), Jane Lynch (“Afternoon Delight”), and more.
This “Female Voices – Women Who Dare” Panel included six extraordinary Documentary and Narrative Directors who are "willing to do whatever it takes to get their films made." Each director has a film showing at the festival, including:
Freida Mock, director/producer, “Anita”
Francesca Gregorini, director/screenwriter, “Emanuel and the Truth about Fishes”
Kalyanee Mam, director/cinematographer/writer, “A River Changes Course” (World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Documentary)
Michele Stephenson, co-director, “American Promise” (Special Jury Award: US Documentary)
Tia Lessin, co-director/producer, “Citizen Koch”
Jehane Nouijaim, director, “The Square” (Al Midan) (Audience Award: World Cinema Documentary)
Producer Lucy Webb moderated this panel of thought leaders, and shared, “I dedicate the panel to Malala Yousafzai this year, the 15-year old Pakistani girl that was shot by the Taliban for wanting an education. She said, ‘I am willing to sit on a dirt floor for an education and I am afraid of no-one.’ Her courage is the seed of women who dare.” Malala was the seed of the idea for this year's panel.
When asked about how Anita Hill feels about the “Anita” documentary putting her back in the spotlight by Lucy Webb, Director Freida Mock, explained, “She is a professor of law, public policy and womens' studies at Brandeis University, and she deals with young people, and she realizes they’re texting and basically visual me, that’s how they communicate. And that is why she felt this film would help get across the ideas that she’s really stood for, for the past 20 years.” The film conveys how Anita Hill was never an activist, even though that’s how they tried to paint her during the trial.
Director/Screenwriter Francesca Gregorini (“Emanuel and the Truth about Fishes”) also reflected on the importance of female voices in film, “Film is such a powerful medium, specifically in this moment of time, it’s the legacy that we leave behind…what was it like to be alive during this period of time. And I think if there aren’t women writers and directors in Hollywood, I think we’re going to leave behind a very skewed message, and we best be putting some women behind there so the stories that get out are truly our stories. In terms of my heads of department, four out six of those slots were women, and not just because they are women, because they’re bloody good.”
Prior to the panel, grants and awards were presented with big cheers from the crowd. To support future projects, $30,000 in film grants were given to female filmmakers. Jordana Spiro (filmmaker of “Skin”) received the Women In Film / CalmDown Productions Grant, and Martha Shane and Lana Wilson (filmmakers of “After Tiller”) were awarded the Women In Film Documentary Grant. WIF President Cathy Schulman shared, “This year's panel celebrates female filmmakers who have taken on daring subject matter, and I congratulate Jordana, Martha and Lana who are the much deserving and inspired recipients of our grant."
To honor the WIF organizers who start working on this annual event six months in advance, Goody Awards Founder Liz H Kelly presented their top honor, a Golden Goody Award, to Producer Lucy Webb and her Women In Film in Park City Committee, for supporting female filmmakers at the festival for almost a decade. When accepting this award, Lucy shared, “Thank you so much. This is our ninth year at Sundance and it is very exciting. I don't do this work alone. I stand on the shoulders of the great women on my committee at Women In Film. My right arm at Sundance, Candace Bowen, along with Iris Grossman, Barbara Boyle, Gayle Nachlis, Hillary Bibicoff, Jane Fleming, Ilene Power, Cathy Schulman, Marion Rosenberg, and Lisa Gewirtz all make this event happen. I love them, and I love Sundance! I am very honored and moved by this award." Candace Bowen was the first volunteer for this WIF in Park City event, and has worked closely with Lucy for the past decade.
And then there was a moment of levity, when Lucy added, “"The Goody Award doesn't feel good-- it feels great!! Thank you to everyone that fights for a higher consciousness of women's issues, and supports women's rights everywhere. On behalf of Women In Film in Park City, we say Go, Sundance, Go!”
Big thanks to Lucy Webb, her WIF in Park City team, Sundance Institute, supporters who go to this event every year, and female filmmakers everywhere for bringing out female voices in film. Special shout out to the primary sponsor, Skywalker Sound, and the contributing sponsors, Max Mara and LUNA®. Everyone walked out with a bag full of Luna bars, WIF gift bags and gratitude for Women In Film. To get involved and support WIF, visit http://wif.org.
© Liz H Kelly @LizHKelly, National Digital Entertainment Columnist and Goody Awards Founder