Over the last few years, there has admittedly been some progress within the film industry in regards to the way women are represented both on and off the screen.
Women like Lena Dunham, Amy Schumer, Mindy Kaling, Miranda July, and Broad City creator’s Illana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson are often held up as proof that change is afoot, leading us to believe that their success is indicative of an industry wide transformation. Unfortunately, these women are an anomaly in an industry that is controlled and dominated by men.
We all know that women have the skills, the talent, the innovation and the ideas, so why aren’t we seeing this represented within the film industry? To give you a very brief rundown on the sorry state of affairs within the world of film, particularly behind the scenes, I’ll let the following facts do the talking; Only 16% of directors are female, only 23% of screenwriters, 34% of producers and as little as 7% of cinematographers. 85% of female directors never make a second or third film. Females represent under 30% of speaking characters on screen. There’s only one female film director for every 15.24 male ones and the film industry tends to centre around male run networks that consistently leave women on the outer.
As you can see, it’s clear that a shake-up is in order, and upcoming Sydney film festival, For Film’s Sake (FFS) – formerly the WOW Film Festival – is here to do the shaking. FFS’s aim is to activate content in unexpected ways that challenge audiences to actively engage with the gender and diversity issues that plague the film industry, shining a big old light on the creativity, innovation and immense skill that female filmmakers display in the face of this gross disparity.
By shifting the focus away from the incessant and quite frankly ridiculous conversations that abound about the worthiness of female filmmakers, FFS’s showcasing of female driven films, master classes and events instead paves the way for active engagement by audiences and provides the film industry with a much needed kick up the butt.
The festival begins on the 26th of April with a keynote address at Sydney Town Hall by Anna Serner, the CEO of the Swedish Film Institute. Serner implemented a ground breaking 50/50 gender mandate for all Swedish productions and is a world-renowned leader for gender equality in the film industry. Held in partnership with the Ethics Centre, this will be her first Australian appearance, following on from keynote addresses at Cannes, Berlinale, Gothenburg & New York Film Festival, and will bring together a variety of industry experts – a must for anyone feeling frustrated at Australia’s lack of progress in regards to gender disparity in all industries.
Conversations with other film heavyweights, master classes, a screening of film Beijing Being in the Chinese Gardens of Friendship, and a night of female-centric art, film and live music at Freda’s in Chippendale are other highlights of FFS’s superbly curated program. So purchase some tickets, pop some corn, round up a bunch of friends and head to a screening, because FFS is too fun and too important an experience to be missed.