Docs

Realscreen marks International Women’s Day with interviews with female directors +

In celebration of International Women’s Day, Realscreen has put together some of our most recent interviews with and stories about female filmmakers and recently announced industry initiatives aimed at women creators. The ...
March 8, 2021

In celebration of International Women’s Day, Realscreen has put together some of our most recent interviews with and stories about female filmmakers and recently announced industry initiatives aimed at women creators.

The film and television business as a whole has had a lot of catching up to do when it comes to gender parity behind the camera. According to the Center for the Study of Women in Television & Film, in 2020 percentages of behind-the-scenes women working on the top 100 and 250 (U.S. domestic) grossing films comprised 21% of all directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and cinematographers,  from 20% in 2019.

However in the documentary category, the numbers jump. The same organization states that “documentaries continue to offer more opportunities for women than narrative features.” In fact, women accounted for 40% of people working in key behind-the-scenes roles on documentaries, compared with only 29% working on narrative features.

Three of those women — Garrett Bradley, Dawn Porter and Nanfu Wang — have recently released feature docs that continue to break boundaries and shine a spotlight not only on their work but on the intricate and complex subjects they capture on camera.

For Bradley, who is based in New Orleans, 2020 proved to be a good year despite the pandemic. She won directing honors at the 2020 Sundance film festival for her first feature documentary Time. In a video interview with Realscreen’s editor and content director Barry Walsh, Bradley discusses her approach to documentary filmmaking, the process of melding the present moment with the past, and a little bit about what the future holds for her as a filmmaker.

Watch the interview HERE.

Dawn Porter (pictured top, center) is no stranger to doc fans and filmmakers. Her films such as 2020′s John Lewis: Good Trouble and The Way I See It have received many accolades, not to mention Oscar buzz. She sat down (virtually) with Realscreen‘s special reports editor Jillian Morgan and discussed her work, including an as yet untitled Apple TV+ docuseries about mental health with Oprah Winfrey and Prince Harry, expected to premiere this spring.

Read the interview HERE.

When Chinese-born, U.S.-based filmmaker Nanfu Wang (One Child Nation) first heard whispers about a virus circulating in China, she and producer Jialing Zhang decided to join forces for another film and In the Same Breath was born. The doc feature about the COVID-19 pandemic premiered at Sundance in January, and Wang spoke with Realscreen‘s Morgan about the film.

Read the interview HERE.

During the Realscreen Summit, held virtually in late January and early February, five top female documentary filmmakers came together in a session called “Propelling Premium Documentary.” The five women filmmakers included Bradley, Porter and also Kirsten Johnson (pictured top right), who directed Dick Johnson is Dead, and RBG co-directors Betsy West (pictured bottom right) and Julie Cohen (pictured top left). The panel was moderated by Abby Greensfelder (pictured bottom left), founder & CEO, Everywoman Studio, a purpose-built media company whose mission is to tell female-focused stories that might not otherwise be told.  During the session the women discussed their work and how they entered the field.

Read the story HERE and watch the session below.

In terms of streamers and broadcasters, there are ongoing efforts in the form of grants and programs to support women who are starting their careers or are at the mid-level. In celebration of IWD 2021, Netflix announced last week that it was committing US$5 million from its Fund for Creative Equity towards programs that identify, train and provide workplace placements for up-and-coming women talent globally. These included programs in Canada, the U.S., France and Germany.

Read the story HERE.

And in February, Blue Ant Media announced it had launced a new partnership with Content Catalyst Fund (CCF), Julie Bristow’s development and funding venture.

The partnership will find the two companies developing, producing and selling women-created unscripted programming for the Canadian and international market, encompassing all of Blue Ant’s resources as a broadcaster, producer and distributor.

Read the story HERE.

Realscreen is also teaming with Abby Greensfelder’s Everywoman Studios for the second year of the Propelle initiative, designed to accelerate the careers of women creators in the non-fiction and unscripted genres. The deadline to apply is March 19 — for more information, click here.

Today (March 8) Shutterstock unveiled a new grant, Through Their Eyes, developed as part of the company’s The Create Fund, and offering US$10,000 to champion female and non-binary creators in photography, visual journalism, videography, illustration, 3D modeling, and writing. The grant will be awarded in three prizes: a first prize of $5,000, with second and third prize entrants each receiving $2,500.

Also today, Apple announced a partnership with women’s rights activist and youngest Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai to produce original programming for Apple TV+, including dramas, comedies, documentaries, animation, and children’s series.

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