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Rubbing Shoulders with Women In Film
by Karen Pecota

“Tomorrow Starts Here: Raising Female Voices through Technology and Creativity” was the theme for the sixth annual 2012 Women In Film (WIF) brunch Rhea Gavry and I attended during the Sundance Film Festival.

A couple hundred women (and a handful of men) gathered at Park City’s Bistro on Main Street to rub shoulders with colleagues and friends in the film industry. The Bistro was buzzing with energy with a packed out house by literally women who are in film. We saw screenwriter/actress from My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Nia Vardalos, who is a Sundance regular and a WIF supporter.

Rhea and I were fortunate to get a seat at a booth crammed in a corner. We shared the table with two film students, Ciara and Melada who were in attendance to observe, meet people and glean from the panel discussion. In addition, they were interested in learning more about Women In Film. Rhea was the perfect person for them to talk with being a member of the non-profit organization.

The Women In Film Missions states that it is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping women achieve their highest potential within the global entertainment, communications and media industries and to preserve the legacy of women within those Industries. Founded in 1973, WIF and its Women In Film Foundation provide for members an extensive network of contacts, educational programs, scholarships, film finishing funds and grants, access to employment opportunities, mentorships and numerous practical services of this mission.

Moderated by producer, Lucy Webb, the WIF panel for discussion featured six female filmmakers with films selected at the festival. Katie Aselton (Director/Actor, Black Rock), Ava DuVernay (Director/Screenwriter, Middle of Nowhere), Lauren Greenfield (Director/Producer, The Queen of Versailles), Lora Hirschberg (Sound Mixer, How to Survive a Plague), Sheena M. Joyce (Director/Producer, The Atomic States of Amerika) and Lucy Walker (Director /Producer, The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom). Information was passed back and forth among the panelists with audience participation regarding mentoring, more visibility for projects made by women, questioning the role of women in film today and advice giving for future projects.

Out of the conversation came questions/comments like this: 5% of movies last year were directed by women. Why do women still have such a hard time getting their foot in the door? One tactic that is working in some cases now is that women will use male pseudonyms to get their foot in the door. They make appointments using the pseudonym. This helps especially when a name can be thought of as either a male or female name. Some women will use the alias as their professional identification, and it is accepted when talk with production and studio executives. Where there is a will, there is a way, right?

Another question asked, “If women have a voice now in the film industry, why is there still little publicity of women in film? Not an easy to answer because the industry is still a world of male dominance. "Women In Film is proud to celebrate female filmmakers at Sundance," says Lucy Webb, "It is essential for all of us to explore more stories from a woman's perspective." In other words, keep moving forward and get a bigger shoe to hold the door open.

In 2007, WIF became an official Sundance Associate of the Sundance Institute. The credential paves the way for Women In Film to collaborate with a variety of people to encourage and support the female independent filmmaker to tell stories. The

A highlight of the sixth annual Sundance WIF was the 2012 WIF/Sundance Grants awarded. First of all a big thank-you and the motion of hats off to the sponsors: Women In Film, National Geographic All Roads, Entertainment Partners, CalmDown Productions, Eastman Kodak, and Technicolor. If it were not for their generosity compelling stories from female artists would not be able to influence culture. And, the winners are:

Director/Producer, Lucy Walker was the 2012 recipient for a grant from The Women in Film/National Geographic All Roads Film Grant. Walker received $5,000 for her work on The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom. Her film was featured in the Shorts Documentary Program at the festival. In addition to the monetary Grant, Walker received a prize of scheduling and budgeting software from Entertainment Partners.

Filmmaker Anna Musso, was the 2012 recipient for a grant from The Women In Film/CalmDown Productions. Musso was awarded $5,000 for her work on L Train and given 5,000 feet of motion picture film stock from Eastman Kodak as well as a prize of scheduling and budgeting software from Entertainment Partners. In addition, Technicolor will offer her HD film telecine dailies for up to 5,000 feet of film for transfer.

The annual brunch was presented by LUCAS FILM, Ltd. with the contributing sponsors LUNA and Max Mara. Those in attendance did not leave the event empty-handed.  Special goodies were handed to each guest at the door upon departure. LUNA* and Max Mara made sure that the event was a memorable one while rubbing shoulders with Women In Film. Thank You for a great time!

* The LUNAFEST Story - Connecting Women Through Film
Established in 2000 by LUNA, the makers of the Whole Nutrition Bar for Women, LUNAFEST connects women, their stories and their causes through film. This traveling film festival spotlights the work of a diverse array of talented women filmmakers with intelligent, funny and thought-provoking themes. visit the site for more information on LUNAFEST mission, short films by, for, about Women.