On Monday night I stepped into the Directors Guild Building for the first time to attend the annual showcase for the AFI's Directing Workshop for Women My feelings about that place are pretty negative. My general perception is that the people who run the show over there don't give a shit about women and their careers. I wished the people who run that place could have seen what I saw that night -- a whole program of women directed films. Probably happens there rarely. There was such joy in that place, and personally, it is exciting to see a whole program celebrating women directors instead of always talking about how hard things are for women directors.
The AFI's Directing Workshop for Women (DWW) is the preeminent training program for female directors. It has been around since 1974. I have learned a lot about the DWW over the last year. We are partnering with them at the Athena Film Festival to being a mini training day to NY next February for the second year in a row. The program is three intensive weeks of all different classes including writing and pitching, how to make a short and how to read a budget. It prepares women (and in order to apply you need to have a reel, this is not for people who are just deciding to be a director, you need to have done something) to take the next step in their careers.
The event started off with a inspirational keynote from Ava DuVernay who continues to push the envelope on the importance of representation. She asked: Why Not Me? and brought the terrific video below. She talked about how women answer the question with their work.
The films screened included:
Alaska is a Drag - Shaz Bennett
Burn Brightly - Lauren Ludwig
Learning to Fly - Juliana Penaranda-Loftus
Sequin Raze- Sarah Gertrude Sharpiro
She Comes in Spring - Antoneta kastrati
Silk- Catherine Dent
Six Letter Word - Lisanne Sartor
Wild Horses - Stephanie Martin
The films were just terrific. They were just so interesting. Lots of stories about women. Stories about war, about abuse, about sexuality, about resilience. About everything. Because that's what women can do. They can tell stories about all facets of life. You will recognize some the stars in these films. The production level is just tremendous and they have to do it all on a budget of $25,000.
Click on the links on the films above to get more information. Some of the film sites have individual trailers, but here is an overall trailer. (I can't embed it but it is worth your minute and a half.)
Look for these short films at festivals near you. They are all worth a look.