Held at the Vancity Theater April 17-18, the festival featured international films with women as the key creators. Other industry events included a forum by Women in the Director’s Chair.
A preview to the upcoming symposium SEXMONEYMEDIA, the forum panellists were producer, and moderator, Rina Fraticelli, Kirsten Newlands-Davidson from Studio B Productions, actress Tantoo Cardinal, producer Anne Wheeler, and journalist and movie writer Katherine Monk.
Gender Challenges in the Industry Jobs
A major issue is the crude evidence that male power at the top means a lesser female representation overall. As a result, women producers will surround themselves with a team of women.
Kirsten Newlands-Davidson cites Studio B where both producers are women and where the gender representation is 12 women for 20 men at the corporate level, whereas women occupy one third of the production positions.
Corporately, men tend to interact differently with women, even in the simple setting of a meeting. Women, however, are extremely competitive and tend to be critical of each other.
Because of the multiple challenges for advancement, women might not be aware that they often play a mental video game in which obstacles must be eliminated.
Rina Fraticelli concluded that women also need to be part of the change, and be more supportive of each other.
Gender Discrimination in Films and Television Series
Strong reactions on the abusive portrayal of women were evident among the panellists and the audience as comments reflected frustration.
Although James Cameron gave powerful roles to the female characters of Avatar, having to research the ideal breasts for their portrayal ruffled some feathers. But, women are surprisingly less characterized in video games.
Tarantino and television series such as CSI spawned anger for their constant exploitation of visual violence on women.
Yet, research show that viewers resent voyeuristic films. Anne Wheeler, who directed Better than Chocolate, a sexually-charged comedy, explains that sex needs a dramatic purpose and be structured in the content.
Outlook on Women in Media Jobs
“The original model of the narrative feature must be changed,” Katherine Monk says. The reality is that people are locked in roles. She cited the set of Juno with the emergence of a new generation who has let go of the archetype director.
In fact, in this new generation are young women who don’t have the same deference for the male CEO; as if their tattoos were symbols of their sassiness and of a certain entitlement.
“There is nothing women cannot do,” Tantoo Cardinal says. “Today women have expertise that used to be men’s.”
In fact, Anne Wheeler is still irritated by the past gender limitation with heavy filming equipments. “A camera was never heavier than a six-month old baby,” she says.
Fraticelli says that women need to move forward especially now that a woman has broken the Glass Ceiling.
Production Funding and Technology
Technical innovations in film equipment have greatly reduced costs and production time. But, funding and distribution remain the bane of women filmmakers.
Noted was the fact that social media contributed to more transparency in the allocation and politics of funding.
Distribution is a problem because the big screen loses to viewers who watch full movies on line. “Unfortunately, the web does not raise funds,” Wheeler says.
Television ratings would benefit by catering to the largest audience of women, i.e., 30-50 years old.
Technology will allow Wheeler to shoot her next film in 12 days with an eight-person crew. Her ideal formula would be less crew for a longer time, during which even the cast would be multi-tasking. But, unions would need to be more flexible.