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Melissa Leo Steps Up to Fund Women Screenwriters

Women and Hollywood By Inkoo Kang | Women and Hollywood December 10, 2013 at 4:34PM

Having distinguished herself onscreen, Leo is doing the same behind the scenes. At the Whistler Film Festival, a showcase and celebration of new Canadian talent, Leo answered a "ballsy" call for increased funding for women screenwriters.
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Melissa Leo
Melissa Leo

Actress Melissa Leo has already proven her awesomeness in The FighterFrozen River, and one very special, very scary episode of Louie. (If you've seen it, you definitely know which one I'm talking about.)

Having distinguished herself onscreen, Leo is doing the same behind the scenes, too. At the Whistler Film Festival, a showcase and celebration of new Canadian talent where she was honored, Leo answered a "ballsy" call for increased funding for women screenwriters. 

Variety reported Leo's act of spontaneous generosity:  

At the awards, the New York-based Alliance of Women Film Journalists presented two EDA awards for women filmmakers, with the Narrative Feature prize going to Toronto's Ingrid Veninger for The Animal Project, which sets a group of struggling actors, each wearing a full body animal suit masking their identity, on an emotional voyage of self discovery. 

While accepting her award, visibly moved, Veninger also took the opportunity to announce a new writing program for Canadian female screenwriters and directors that she will be launching through her production company, pUNK Films. 

In a bold move, Veninger proceeded to rally the audience for a $6,000 donation to the program. "I know this is a ballsy request," she said, "but I would like to see more feature films made by women. Who can donate $6,000 for six features?" 

That's when Oscar winner Leo stepped up to the plate. "I'll do it!," she yelled out, raising from her seat.

Since winning a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award in 2010 for The Fighter, Leo has been extraordinarily prolific. Just this year alone, she appears in five theatrical releases and a TV movie. But there's no denying that her mid-life career ascendance came after the little-seen but widely praised 2008 indie Frozen River, written and directed by Courtney Hunt, about two women smugglers.


We love Leo's willingness to pay it forward. 

This article is related to: Melissa Leo, Frozen River, Women Directors, Women Writers, Ingrid Veninger, The Animal Project, The Fighter, Film Festivals, Whistler Film Festival