A female ‘above-ground railroad’ » Change in the film world can be found in an emerging network of allies working to fund and mentor female storytellers. This network might work similarly to the way Emily’s List bundled small donations to help level the playing field for Democratic female politicians.
It’s a female “above-ground railroad,” said filmmaker Judith Helfand, creative director of Chicken & Egg films.
“Artists don’t just live on two coasts, and they don’t just live at film festivals,” she said. “We’re all part of an ecosystem that is starting to become a girl’s club, an old girl’s network that you can actually get into. Everyone’s trying to chip away at that.”
Helfand’s 9-year-old nonprofit funds female-led documentaries, including the Sundance documentary “Private Violence.” The documentary by Cynthia Hill is a freshly harrowing look at what might be considered a classic “women’s issues” story about domestic violence. Hill said she made the film to retire the question “Why didn’t you just leave?” after having her own experience in the past with domestic violence, which she chooses not to discuss.
The film “is my way of being able to directly address it and say the things I need to say, but I’m using other women to tell it,” Hill said before the Salt Lake City screening, where activists linked the film to reports of the Spanish Fork murder of Kelly Boren, her mother and two children. “Because that story is universal. You can’t hear this story from so many women, from so many walks of life, and it’s the same exact story, and that’s scary and sad.”
Gender, of course, plays into the subjects she focuses her camera on. But Hill says she experiences more roadblocks as a filmmaker because she chose to return home to North Carolina and to tell Southern stories.
Confidence — and voice » After all, the forces of the digital revolution are making filmmaking more accessible, said Hill, who studied pharmacology before turning to filmmaking after making health-care videos.
“The statistics haven’t changed, but the amount of women making documentary films has changed,” Hill said. “If you have the passion and creativity, you can do it. Nobody can tell us no anymore.”
Women are reaching out to each other in multiple directions. “Nobody needs the studio” anymore, said Soloway, who worked on the TV shows “The United States of Tara” and “Six Feet Under.” “All you need is the confidence and the voice to start creating.”
Soloway is piloting a comedy show, “Transparent,” that will stream on Amazon, and with a friend has launched wifey.tv, a website spotlighting videos made by women.
One powerful example of the emerging ecosystem is Gamechanger Films, a $6 million investment fund Dreyfous helped found last fall, with a mission as straightforward as its name: “Gamechanger aims to shift the gender disparity in the film marketplace by tapping into the enormous yet undervalued talent pool of women directors and providing the financing necessary to bring their work to audiences worldwide.”« Previous Page Next Page »