Financing Female-Led Films.

Film Find embedded above a TIFF Industry discussion about the financing of female-led films, encompassing what's gone wrong in the past and with an idea for the kinds of action which could and should be taken in the future. The too long to watch version is that because women have always been in the minority on boards and in decision making roles even if a discrimination in creative circles isn't actively brought by men it can be unconsciously. The action plan is essentially to create goals. The best contributor is Anna Serner, the CEO of the Swedish Film Institute were 50% of the productions they finance are by women directors and as she notes it's all very well women filmmakers getting together in support networks and talking but its then up to them to take their talents up the hierarchy.

Frankly, and let's call them what they are, man films made by men about men for men. To unfairly selecting something at random, I watched the exceedingly average Out of the Furnace recently which stars Christian Bale as a mill worker who's trying to protect his younger wayward war veteran brother Casey Affleck. There's more to it than that, but suffice to say there's some punching and shooting and shouting and amongst a cast which includes the likes of Woody Harrelson and Willem Defoe there's room for just one female character, played as she so often is by Zoe Saldana. Now the potential argument is that the film's portraying a world in which there are few women and in which these men don't much interact with women, but my counter-argument would be ask why we have to see that again?

Despite only appearing in about three scenes, it's soon pretty clear that Saldana's character's story arc is a lot more original and interesting than the generically grim nonsense happening elsewhere but the filmmakers, all men, just simply aren't interested in expanding her role beyond girlfriend who leaves and hooks up with someone else in order to cause the protagonist pain. To have done so would have led to a completely different film, but I suppose my point is we've otherwise seen this film. We haven't seen the version of this film which is about her character. Not that there's any reason why this story couldn't be told with women in the lead roles either beyond the usual lazy gender stereotypes and that in and of itself would have created the necessary variance.

But as the discussion touches upon, it's also about recognising that women make up 50% of the world's population and that not having more than one woman in a lead role both behind and in front of the camera is morally wrong. Flicking through the winter preview section of this month's Empire, all I see are pages and pages of films with male protagonists, often with the character's name in the title. Apart from The Hunger Games (and possibly Star Wars), when women are visible it's as part of an ensemble and even then often as a romantic interest or daughter and the vast majority of this work is created by men. But when these things are made and are successful, as the panel agrees it's treated as a fluke rather than something to be turned into a movement and I'd add if they're a failure it stops that kind of film being made again as if that's what's important.

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