One of the enduring curiosities of the film world is the gender disparity among directors. It's not necessarily something you can pin on the big Hollywood system, either: look over any independent festival's roster, and odds are better than not men will outnumber women, and it's rarely by a small margin. The recent Oscar win by Kathryn Bigelow is being held up as a kind of breakthrough for women filmmakers, but it's worth noting that it's 2010 and we're just now breaking that barrier, and it's not as though Bigelow had a lot of fellow female competition in her category.
It's a question that puzzles Collette Slevinsky, director of the Edmonton Women's Film Society, which is set to unveil the seventh incarnation of its annual Reel Femme festival, devoted to displaying women's voices up on screen.
"There's still a disparity of women filmmakers. You'll find a lot of documentary filmmakers that are women—at Global Visions, about half of all the films are made by women. But getting to the next step, feature films, that's rare," muses Slevinsky, who points out the technical demands of film, an area that tends to be male-dominated, has some effect, but couldn't explain it all. "But still, every year doing this, we get people asking to be involved, and we got more and more submissions. So there are artists out there, and they are making films, and we need to showcase that."
Reel Femme's mandate has always been just that, and has manifested itself in everything from the screenings you'd expect to talks from visiting artists in the hopes of inspiring more women filmmakers, the effects of which are evident in surveying the slowly but steadly increasing number of female filmmakers taking up the camera in our city.
This year is a bit more modest than years past—something Slevinsky credits, as it were, to the increasing difficulties of finding funding in our province—but no less vibrant. Besides a selection of Canadian shorts curated with a local audience in mind, Reel Femme will also include the very topical Poto Mitan: Haitian Women, Pillars of the Global Economy, a documentary shot before the recent earthquake that will be followed with a discussion on the role of women in the rebuilding of the country. Also showing will be Sherry White's Crackie, a Newfoundland-set dramedy featuring legendary comedienne Mary Walsh in a far different context, as a grandmother helping raise her abandoned granddaughter. V
Sat, Apr 10
Reel Femme '10
Featuring Poto Mitan, Canadian Shorts, Crackie
Metro Cinema & Stanley A Milner Library
ewfs.ca for full details