A recent report by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University revealed that just seven percent of the top 250 domestic grossing films in 2016 were directed by women—down from nine percent in 2015. Similarly disproportionate numbers extend to the independent film industry.
Despite these statistics, three Seattle-based nonprofits believe that the future for women filmmakers isn’t necessarily bleak. Instead, they say the future is feminist.
The brainchild of the Reel Grrls Executive Director Nancy Chang and the Executive Director of Northwest Film Forum (NWFF) Courtney Sheehan, the first Future of Film Is Feminist Festival features work directed by young female-identifying talent: nine short films pulled from the National Film Festival for Talented Youth (NFFTY), with contributions by NWFF and Reel Grrls.
“The reason we have the Future of Film is Feminist Festival is to continue to normalize being feminist,” says Chang. By showcasing work from emerging filmmakers, the festival elevates the young talent whose work it will be to help recast the male-dominated industry. This dovetails with Reel Grrls’ mission at-large: Since 2001, the organization has helped students to foster a passion for filmmaking and connect them with apprenticeships, long-term mentorships, and professional work.
“When we were approached by Reel Grrls and Northwest Film Forum to get involved, it was a no brainer,” says Kyle Seago, cofounder and current board president at NFFTY—the biggest film festival for youth in the world. Seago believes it's crucial to showcase female talent in order to shape the perspectives of future industry professionals. “[We’re] developing strong female voices and strong male allies who say 'I want to hire women, I want to be hired by women, I want to work with women on their film,'” says Seago.
The festival is about collaboration between local nonprofits as much as it is about highlighting female talent. In Seago’s point-of-view, there isn’t “enough collaboration from arts organizations coming together…and this is a really great step to doing that.” Though they’ve always been in support of each other’s work, the festival marks the biggest direct collaboration between the three organizations. "Our aim is to build stronger communities within our organizations to better support female filmmakers," says Chang. "We have a really strong film community in Seattle and it’s primarily led by women. And part of the Future of Film is Feminist Festival is about celebrating and acknowledging that work."
The Future of Film Is Feminist Festival
Thu, July 13, Neptune Theatre, Free