Hardly a week passes when I don’t hear about a female [insert creative profession here] trailblazer who has just been ‘rediscovered’ and is posthumously reclaiming her place in our collective consciousness and in history. (Last week’s is photojournalist Gerda Taro).
There are plenty of historic and present inspiring female role models out there, we just don’t know about enough of them.
At the end of last year, when quite an array of depressing best-of-2013 overviews and lists came out, I realised that I had a very different experience to most. My list looks more like eight female directors and only two men. Nine times out of ten the film I most recently saw was by female director. If you ask me about a strong, positive, female lead, I could name you several.
It’s not that I don’t appreciate male directors, it’s just that I don’t see many films directed by men anymore.
Since I began programming the Festival, I see the exact opposite of what most cinema goers do – the hidden gems that seldom get a broader public platform. I’m on the hunt for scripts signed by a woman, and dutifully scowl at endless male-only lists of directors, juries and ‘best of’ lists.
However, the films I see often don’t cross over to the UK cinema screen, and it’s true that to see women directors’ work, you sometimes have to work a little bit harder. (Birds Eye View came to exist exactly for this reason: because we were missing out on half of the population’s stories.)
So this is my New Year’s suggestion to you, if reducing gender gaps and the representation of women on screen is important to you: put your money where you mouth is and enable, support, promote female directors. Here are some specific suggestions:
1. If you work in the film industry, you could read and sign the excellent equality charter from Le Deuxieme Regard (French lobbying group made up of female film producers and sales agents to promote women in the film industry). You could follow Geena Davis’ two simple steps to making sure your film has more equal gender representation.
2. If you are a female filmmaker – be visible. Share your learning. Become a mentor.
3. If you love film – be a savvy consumer of it. Go to see films directed by women in the first weekend of their release, thereby helping ensure it stays on screen longer. Organise an outing to the cinema. Tell people about women directed films you’ve seen and enjoyed. Use social media to spread the word. Make that effort, and travel to see filmmakers you want to support.
4. Whoever you are – get involved and support female filmmakers to tell the stories they want to tell – there are some fantastic crowdfunding campaigns currently live including Oonagh Kearney’s The Wake, Iva Radivojevic’s Evaporating Borders, and Karen Guthrie’s The Closer We Get.
Happy New Year from the BEV team!
Let’s make 2014 the year where we starting doing, rather than just talking about it.