Just months after they opened their doors for business, Salon Pictures has announced a slate of films including three features to be directed by women: Eva Sorhaug (90 Minutes) helms Lenny, an adaptation of bareknuckle fighter Lenny McLean's uncompromising autobiography; comedian Sharon Horgan takes the reigns of Meet Me in Ten Years, wherein a woman has the opportunity to spend time with a future version or herself; and Pratibha Parmar directs Intercourse, an experimental film about the life of Andrea Dworkin, the influential radical feminist who is as often maligned as celebrated for her controversial feminist theories.
The films will be produced by Nick Taussig and Paul Van Carter, Salon's founders. The pair's pedigree is impeccable - Nick was the Managing Director of Revolver Entertainment, responsible for some of the most ambitious and successful film fare of this century, and he regularly worked with producer Paul through Gunslinger, Revolver's in-house production arm. All three projects have been developed by Nick and Paul and the appointment of three female directors was not necessarily intended, but came as a result of finding the best person for the job, "I cannot think of better directors for these projects, male or female!" says Paul. "The fact that three female directors came on board was coincidental, but only to an extent. Meet Me in Ten Years was written by a woman and both leads will be played by a woman/women - we felt that really needed a female director. The Dworkin documentary also, crucially, needed the voice of a female director."
Asked whether he anticipated difficulty financing these films, Paul suggested that difficulties are more likely to arise from a director's inexperience rather than their gender - while this is Sorhaug's third foray into features territory, it is Horgan's debut and Parmar's second effort. Paul's observation does present a challenge for those of us who aim for gender parity in the film business. The numbers will not balance and women will remain very much in the minority unless the industry is more accessible to first-time directors.
Certainly, Salon Pictures is doing more than their fair share to provide opportunities for women filmmakers, and for all the right reasons - they want to make "films that matter". Their full production slate is impressive and there may be yet more opportunities for women - two documentaries do not have directing talent attached. Ghandi's Ecstasy will explore the practice of brahmacharya, celibacy and the transcendence of sexual desire, by the Indian leader, while Manopause is a study of the male mid-life crisis and its telltale signs such as buying tickets for Glastonbury, splashing out of a new bike and looking up ex-girlfriends on Facebook. A familiar tale, indeed.