The New York Film Academy's 2013 study on gender inequality.
You may have already seen these disturbing infographics on gender inequality in film, courtesy of the New York Film Academy, racing around the interwebs. But I thought it was too important not to share here, too. Take a look. Get mad. And then do something about it. For example:
Buy a ticket—on opening weekend—to films that feature female characters and films directed, written and produced by women. Money is one of the strongest arguments you can make in Hollywood; fight with your hard-earned.
Talk—loudly, longly, on all forms of social media—about inequalities and mis-portrayals of women in blockbuster films. Films should be a conversation; hold up your end with gusto. Don’t be afraid to mention offending filmmakers by their Twitter handles.
Point outincongruencies—to yourself, to your friends, to the kids in your life—as (or right after) you’re watching. Count the women in crowd scenes: You’ll be shocked at how the imbalances extend even to extras. Question the male-heavy world Hollywood is creating; shine a light on its weirdness.
Support independent film, where the progress toward gender parity is faster and more publicly discussed. Attend film festivals. Go to your local independent theater. Rent and stream indies. Pony up for a female filmmaker’s Kickstarter (super indie!).
Go for it. If you’re a woman who wants to work in film, don’t hesitate. Get going! (I’m talking to myself as much as I’m talking to you.) Write that script, buy that camera, get your community together and make something. It’s going to take all of us to reverse these misogynist trends. We need to stop blaming the media and become the media.
I’ve been to about six different film festivals in my life so far, and the documentary-driven True/False Film Fest—held the last weekend in February in Columbia, Missouri—is far and away my absolute favorite. (Sorry, Sundance; it’s me, not you.) Even though the fest has my nostalgia (it’s held on the campus of my alma mater) and loyalty (my day-job employer sponsors the fest) working in its favor, plentyof other peopleagree that it’s pretty fantastic. And I find it hard to imagine any other future festival-going experience will ever take its place. Why?
Most importantly: In three years, I’ve never seen a bad film at True/False. Even the ones that weren’t “my thing” were interesting and merited viewing.
The festival celebrates the best tasks of filmmaking—dialogue-starting, storytelling, art-making, world-bettering. The only awards given are the True Vision Award, for “the creative advancement of the art of nonfiction filmmaking,” and the True Life Fund, which gives ”tangible assistance to the real-life subjects of a new non-fiction film.”
The idea of celebrity gets turned on its head. For four days, everybody is staring at the right people for the right reasons: Because she took big risks to tell an important story. Because he made me see [fill in the blank] in a whole new way. Because they were brave and vulnerable enough to share their lives on screen. Because they way you live your life makes me think harder about how I want to live mine.
And all those T/F celebrities? They’re going to films and public events, too, and you can just walk up and talk to them. And they, gasp, talk back.
The fest takes care of its feature filmmakers, paying for their travel, room and board costs, plus giving them an additional stipend. And then they throw them lots of parties. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think about spending years becoming a crack documentarian just to get into this festival and be treated so well.
One word: Buskers. There are musicians playing before every single screening. Love.
The whole community of Columbia, Missouri, gets into the T/F spirit. The theaters are full, the restaurants run specials, everybody’s a volunteer, public art is everywhere, there’s even a parade. A parade!
You leave feeling more human and hopeful than before.
So here are some documentaries to watch from the fest. (Note that Oscar-winner 20 Feet from Stardom played at T/F last year. Along with all but one of the other nominees.)
Anybody else feeling less and less interested in the annual (movie) race to gold? I’m finding it difficult to get too excited about the Oscars this year. My film brain has moved on, having seen a whole new crop of fascinating flicks at Sundance in January. And the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has the kind of hard-core-homogenous membership (93% while, 76% male) that leads to yawn-inducing predictability. So when the Oscars air next Sunday, I’ll be wrapping up my coverage of the thought-provoking, always-surprising True/False Film Festival instead. In the meantime, I’ll be using the following Best Picture “conversation changers” to keep from nodding off during Oscar discussions. (I’ll add in Philomena and Captain Phillips after I see them.) Try ‘em, and let me know your results!
What I thought:
A thoroughly entertaining period caper flick with incredible performances from Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, and the sure-to-shake-up-next-Sunday’s-show Jennifer Lawrence. One of my favorites of the year.
Shane Carruth and Amy Seimetz in Carruth's Upstream Color
One of the few things I don’t hate about winter: snow days. I love it when the white stuff forces me into exile because it gives me a chance to catch up on my ever-growing streaming online must-watch list. I said this to my sister this week and she said, “I love that you have a watch list.” “Wait,” I said. “You don’t have a watch list?” “Um, no,” said she. We’re twins, people.
So, in case you are one of those lucky people who aren’t walking around with a mental list of everything you must see before you die, said list weighing heavy on your soul, allow me to suggest the following watch-list adds for your next snow day. They all feature my perfect snow-day trifecta: An element of mystery engrossing enough to ward off cabin fever, a decided bleakness to mirror my seasonally depressed soul, and a dose of finality (crime avenged, mystery revealed, etc.) as an antidote to the feeling that this winter is never, ever, ever going to end.*
Sadly for my movie-loving heart (but just in time for my quickly weakening immune system), I’m heading home from the Sundance Film Festival 2014. But I had a smashing last day: Sunshine, gifted tickets, readily available soy milk and vegan sandwiches, meeting someone who works for one of my favorite production companies in line, and seeing a former co-worker’s work get a standing ovation. Oh, yes, and there were some very fine films, too. Read below for my last installment of Sundance mini-reviews. I’ll be following up this daily coverage with some after-Sundance posts, including interviews, to-see lists, and more. Thanks so much for being a part of my first Sundance trip and giving me a reason to write every night!
A Most Wanted Man
Rachel McAdams and Philip Seymour Hoffman in Anton Corbijn’s A Most Wanted Man.
Director: Anton Corbijn Screenwriters: Andrew Bovell, based on novel by John le Carré Starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rachel McAdams, Daniel Brühl, Willem Dafoe, Robin Wright, Nina Hoss, Grigoriy Dobrygin
It’s my second-to-last day at the Sundance Film Festival, and it was a good one. For starters, I got into every film I tried to (a first for this trip). For second, I enjoyed all three. And for third, I skipped movies tonight and hung out with my housemates and their friends. I definitely felt like I snuck onto the cool kid’s table as I heard about the documentaries they’re finishing up, the film programs they are running, the festivals they are programming, and the films they are shooting. I had such a great time listening to this fascinating crew’s stories. But onto the movies, right?
Anne Hathaway and Johnny Flynn and Kate Barker-Froyland’s Song One. Photo by John Guleserian.
Director & Screenwriter: Kate Barker-Froyland Starring: Anne Hathaway, Johnny Flynn, Mary Steenburgen, Ben Rosenfield
Jeremy Pelt and Richie Goods in John Harkrider's All the Beautiful Things. Photo by Brian O'Carroll.
I’ve officially made it through a week in Park City! And I haven’t even caught a cold. (Though I probably sealed my fate with that statement.) Despite failing to get into a couple movies that I really wanted to see today, I still managed to make it to three worth-talking-about films. Reviews below.
All the Beautiful Things
Jeremy Pelt and Richie Goods in John Harkrider’s All the Beautiful Things. Photo by Brian O’Carroll.
Director: John Harkrider Featuring: John Harkrider and Barron Claiborne
Carmen Moore in Sydney Freeland's Drunktown's Finest. Photo by Peter Holland.
The lesson of the day: Talk to film festival volunteers. They’ve seen films, they’ve spent the whole day talking to people about what films they’ve seen, they know everything. My go-to movie info guy in the press & industry tent highly recommended Imperial Dreams, so I jumped on the waitlist for a public screening and booked it to the theater. I was glad I did. Reviews below.
Carmen Moore in Sydney Freeland’s Drunktown’s Finest. Photo by Peter Holland.
Director & Screenwriter: Sydney Freeland Starring: Jeremiah Bitsui, Carmen Moore, Morningstar Angeline, Kiowa Gordon, Shauna Baker, Elizabeth Frances