In the midst of the male-dominated Oscar season, I want to give some attention to awesome film festivals that showcase films made by women and about women. The Athena Film Festival took place in New York City earlier this month, and Soraya Chemaly at The Huffington Post put the statistics of Hollywood in perspective and how important it is to have festivals like Athena. Soraya talks about the movies nominated for a Best Picture Oscar that feature “little boys, teenage boys, warriors, dads, sportsmen and writers with variously existential, redemptive and exuberant messages about war, boyhood, and fatherhood,” with the exception of The Help. It’s no surprise that this is the case, with men making up “96.4 percent of directors, 86.5 percent of writers, and 78.4 percent of producers in the industry.” When looking at those numbers, it’s crucial that we continue to have festivals like Athena, so that we can move toward accurately representing women, who “make up half the world and more than half of domestic movie ticket buyers.”
The Athena Film Festival showcased films that told stories of women around the world who have made differences in their communities, and included feature films, shorts, and documentaries. Soraya felt that “the opening of the festival, the awards ceremony, was a testament to why it is important for women to persevere in the face of institutional bias and to demonstrate that women are constantly working together and supporting one another, contrary to popular stereotypes, reality tv tropes and sexist mythologizing that perpetuates the idea of inherent female competition.” Melissa Silverstein, co-founder and artistic director of the Festival, reported that “three thousand people attended the festival, a 20% increase from last year, and a number of the screenings were sold out.” At the awards ceremony “over 350 people attended the reception,” honoring the achievements of several women in the industry including the director and producer of Pariah, Dee Rees and Nekisa Cooper.
We’re very excited to contribute to bringing films made by women and about women to the public eye with our WAM!Boston Film Festival 2012 taking place at the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge on Saturday, March 24th. WAM!Boston will be presenting films from up-and-coming filmmakers, many of whom are local. There will also be a Q&A session with the filmmakers or film subjects after each screening. It is crucial that we continue to showcase films that provide women’s perspectives on the world through events like the Athena Film Festival as well as our own here at WAM! so that we can represent women’s voices in the currently male-dominated film community, and move toward gender equity in the industry. Check out more info about the WAM!Boston Film Festival including the film schedule and tickets, and come show your support for films made by women and about women!