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Melissa Leo Steps Up to Fund Women Screenwriters

by Inkoo Kang
December 10, 2013 4:34 PM
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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. 
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  • Jan Lisa Huttner | December 16, 2013 11:08 AMReply

    Brava, Melissa Leo!!! From my 7/16/08 interview with her about FROZEN RIVER [on womenarts dot org]: “When Courtney was trying to raise money for Frozen River, I would call her every three or four months and say: ‘We makin’ that movie?’ I come to find out three years later that I would often call, just like woman do, at that very moment when she was ready to give up, get a kindergarten teaching license, and forget about it. Certainly I have been given reasons to give up, but I won’t.” HOORAY :-)

  • Terra King | December 12, 2013 4:00 PMReply

    Hi Kate, have you tried the crowd funded track. Indiegogo or Kickstarter?

  • Kate Burke | December 11, 2013 12:40 AMReply

    Wondering if there may be anyone else out there whom wants to donate to a project which supports a very professional award wining screen writer producer woman and an unkown (moi) to turn ebook to screen. Aim is for promoting, having safe and harm free mutuality in any relationship. Furthermore, raising awareness for zero in 3 women raped in a lifetime... rather than 1 in 3 from the UN stats in 2008 ! Any suggestions really appreciated . It requires $5000. Yikes, I know. Thanks :-)

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