A number of influential Hollywood players -- including Jessica Chastain, Queen Latifah and Catherine Hardwicke -- have teamed up to form We Do It Together (WDIT), a non-profit production company. The aptly named collective was created to finance and produce films, documentaries, TV and other media working towards the goal of empowering women.
A press release announcing the launch states, "Working with male and female internationally acclaimed directors, actors and producers who share its vision and values, the company will develop a slate of inspiring gender-led films, and ensure a future of opportunities for known and emerging voices in the industry."
Those joining Chastain, Latifah and Hardwicke on WDIT's Board of Directors include actresses Freida Pinto ("Rise of the Planet of the Apes," "Slumdog Millionaire") and Ziyi Zhang ("House of Flying Daggers"), and writer-directors Amma Asante ("Belle"), Marielle Heller ("The Diary of a Teenage Girl") and Haifaa Al-Mansour ("Wadjda").
The organization, slated to reveal its first film project at Cannes 2016, will raise capital to fund productions from grants, governments, corporate sponsors and individual donations. The press release explains that proceeds "will be reinvested to create a self-sustaining organization, prepared to invest in additional films." In addition, "local chapters will be created in order to make a regional impact as well as bringing filmmakers from the U.S. to the global arena."
WDIT will participate in the United Nations' Annual Power of Collaboration Global Summit on February 28th, tackling the topic "A Glimpse to Next Stop: Conversations with Men (And Women) in Hollywood." Board Member and Founder Chiara Tilesi will offer more details on WDIT's non-profit production-company model and speak to the organization's mandate to make films by and about women, challenging gender stereotypes in the process.
"We hope in the future we won't have a need for dedicated niche financing for films by and about women," said Tilesi. "All of us involved in We Do It Together recognize the vital role of the media and entertainment in both shaping and challenging societal norms. Film has always possessed the power to defy convention and change hearts and minds, and this power and potential must be harnessed to challenge the current archaic norms related to women within the entertainment industry. We feel that the way to make this a reality is to give women from around the world a concrete way to express themselves and an on-going structure that will ensure that these stories will be financed and distributed."