Mon, Apr 23, 2018 - Page 8 News List

Post Weinstein, film festivals aim for gender parity

By Jake Coyle  /  AP, NEW YORK

SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris speaks in January at the 24th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards in Los Angeles. The Screen Actors Guild is calling on an end to auditions in private hotel rooms and residences in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal. SAG-AFTRA on Thursday issued new guidelines that expand the guild’s code of conduct in an effort to curtail sexual harassment in the entertainment industry.

Photo: AP

Asia Argento said he raped her during the Cannes Film Festival. Mira Sorvino said he chased her around a hotel room at the Toronto International Film Festival. Rose McGowan’s encounter happened at the Sundance Film Festival.

Just as Harvey Weinstein did at the Oscars, the disgraced movie mogul lorded over the festival world, which provided the glitzy, champagne-flowing setting for many of his alleged crimes. And in the aftermath of Hollywood’s sexual harassment scandals, film festivals have done some soul searching.

Codes of conduct have been rewritten, selection processes have been re-examined and, in many cases, gender equality efforts have been redoubled.

When the curtain goes up on the 17th annual Tribeca Film Festival on Wednesday, the festival will boast more female filmmakers than ever before. After last year accounting for a third of the slate, films directed by women make up 46 percent at this year’s festival.

Jane Rosenthal, co-founder of the festival and chief executive of Tribeca Enterprises, particularly wanted to launch this year’s festival with the premiere of a film directed by a woman, about a woman. Lisa Dapolito’s Love Gilda, about the comedienne Gilda Radner, will kick things off Wednesday at New York’s Beacon Theatre. The first episode of Liz Garbus’ Showtime documentary series The Fourth Estate, about the New York Times covering the first year of the Trump administration, will close the festival. On April 28, the festival will hold a day’s worth of conversations with Time’s Up, including Ashley Judd and Julianne Moore, to benefit the legal defense fund and gender equality initiative.

“For us it was, on one hand, business as usual,” said Rosenthal, pointing to previous efforts Tribeca has made to promote female filmmakers, like its Nora Ephron Award.

“But we tasked ourselves early on with: Can you get to 50-50? Can we have 50 percent women filmmakers at the festival? We got to 46. I would say that it was fairly easy for us. Those pictures would probably have been in the festival without that kind of mandate.”

Efforts to improve the movie business’ record on gender equality have been ongoing at many, though not all, major film festivals in recent years. Pursuing parity has seemed at times like an arms race with various festivals touting their male-to-female ratios. The festival world is far ahead of the industry (only 8 of last year’s top 100 films at the box office were directed by women) and the Academy Awards (where Greta Gerwig became just the fifth woman ever nominated for best director this year).

Thirty-seven percent of the 122 features at this year’s Sundance were directed by women, including Seeing Allred, about women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred. For the first time, all four of the festival’s directing prizes went to female filmmakers. The festival’s top prize, the Grand Jury Prize, went to Desiree Akhavan’s The Miseducation of Cameron Post.

At SXSW in March, eight of the 10 films in the narrative competition were directed by women. At last fall’s Toronto film festival, one third of entries were made by female filmmakers and a five-year, US$3 million campaign dubbed Share Her Journey was launched to support female filmmakers.

The Hot Docs Festival , a well-regarded documentary festival held annually in Toronto, reached gender parity for the first time this year. A year after a program featuring 48 percent of female-directed projects, this year’s 246 films and 16 interdisciplinary projects are 50/50 on gender. The festival on Tuesday also added the premiere of Barry Avrich’s Weinstein documentary The Reckoning: Hollywood’s Worst Kept Secret.

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