To celebrate #Suffrage125 in Aotearoa New Zealand this year — 125 years since women got the vote — I’m creating a series of pop-up events to celebrate and learn from women who direct for cinema, television and web series and commercials. With lots of lovely help. Old and new work, from Aotearoa and from overseas, with Q&As, debates and panels to learn more about women directors and the ways they approach screen story telling.
#directedbywomen #aotearoa is inspired by Barbara Ann O’Leary’s beautiful and global project #DirectedbyWomen, an annual all-September party, now in its fourth year, but it will run until at least November 2018, the month when women here first voted.
The first #directedbywomen pop-up was at Mokopōpaki’s shop window cinema in Auckland, where it was warmly welcomed, with the tiny space (perfect for two!) sometimes overflowing with viewers.
The main programme takes place in the Suffrage months of October-November, in Auckland and Wellington.
#DirectedbyWomen becomes more and more vital, as a celebratory event that reaches beyond ‘the industry’, to audiences for films that women write and direct. It provides a fine range of options for people who are looking for diverse films by women.
There are two main reasons for my involvement this year, with a pilot program of screenings accompanied by discussion with directors.
The first is that there is a huge increase in wide releases of films about women that are written and directed by men. This matters. As one woman told me recently: “Men are not experts on women. They observe women. Sometimes, because they are human, they have beautiful women characters. It is different, no less interesting. But it is still a male gaze. When I tell a story about women I’m an expert because I am a woman.”
The second is that I’ve talked with so many women in various contexts, lots of them feminists, who choose their reading matter according to the gender of the author, but often cannot name a woman director beyond Jane Campion or someone similar and certainly do not have a favorite woman director.
I hope, that if they/we are exposed to more women-directed work PLUS conversations about it and how it was made, including the additional challenges women directors have, preferably conversations between each woman director herself speaking with another woman director, more women will start looking at who directed the movies they’re offered in cinemas and online and take note of their differences.
Some will be just like the men’s work we’re used to. But a lot won’t. In the UK Club Des Femmes does great work with this and there are women’s film festivals. But there’s room for a lot more activity and #DirectedByWomen offers a wider and global opportunity and for a whole month.
Finally, #directedbywomen provides a principled, welcoming, network and context for more isolated activity like mine to link into with a kaupapa or agenda geared to the conditions in #aotearoa New Zealand. And I’m so so grateful for that.
Originally published at wellywoodwoman.blogspot.com.