- Sofia Coppola, movie director (also a woman)
AFCOOP, the Atlantic Filmmaker's Cooperative, is now accepting applications for new program, "Directed by Women," supported by Arts Nova Scotia. According to the call, "The program will provide eight women with training and mentorship from established female filmmakers on the topics of screenwriting, directing, working with key crew, pitching and marketing. The focus of this workshop series will be addressing the challenges inherent in transitioning from shorts to features. The final component of the program will include a ‘speed dating’ meet-and-greet with local producers at WIFT-AT’s annual Women Making Waves conference (March 2016). AFCOOP and WIFT-AT’s goal is to prepare eight emerging female filmmakers to direct their own feature films." Can't contain my excitement. This rules.
Deadline is Friday, October 16 @ 5pm. Criteria for application includes:
• Must be emerging (completed at least one short film) to mid-career filmmakers
• A commitment to working professionally in the domain of narrative filmmaking
Applicants are asked to include a current CV, a one-page treatment for a feature film concept and a letter of intent. Submissions should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. See afcoop.ca for more.
This program comes at a time when people are starting to realize — and even attempt to change — the horrendous imbalance of women in most entertainment and business professions, but especially film. According to Deadline Hollywood, in the US, "Women currently receive only 16% of the episodic TV directing jobs, and last year directed less than 5% of the major studio releases." Even though that 5% grew from the 0.5% of 1983, that's still quite fucked. And then when major studios make deliberate decisions to hire all-female crews and casts, people (mostly men) shit their pants over it. In 87 years, only four women have been nominated for a Best Direction Oscar. And then when women earn opportunities to work in film, they deal with enough garbage to fill a Tumblr. I'm sure most audiences don't even realize when their favourite films are female-directed. And then — when female directors get a fair deal — they have to work harder to prove their voice is valid. Or they have to defend aesthetic choices in ways men never do.
For instance, at the September Atlantic Film Festival premiere of Beeba Boys, Oscar-nominated director Deepa Mehta introduced her 2015 Sikh-gangster action film in exasperation: "I am tired of defending myself," she told the Halifax audience, "I wanted to make Beeba Boys because, as a women, I wanted to make a kick-ass film." At its various premieres, people couldn't get over her command of gangster tropes and male-focused action. Yeah, like it's really that hard to grasp. For one thing, the market is saturated with those types of film. And for another, why can't a women direct action films? The whole premise of her defence is ridiculous, but it's still questioned, even though gender doesn't imply any preferences for taste. I think the emergence of female directors in genre films (like horror) proves this as long overdue.
Basically, Mehta wants a world where defending herself for being a woman making an action film isn't at all necessary. We should only question artistic choices because the art straight-up sucks, regardless of gender. But to assume that women't aren't capable of any artistic or creative pursuit is absurd, whatever the genre, medium or expression. Like for fucks sakes.
But you know this already, and yet we're not even close to gender parity in these professions. So hey, read this list. And then hooray for AFCOOP. This is a great program and an awesome opportunity. Pass this along to anyone who might be interested. If you're interested, apply now!