In a resolute move to address the role of women in film, the Durban International Film Festival and the Durban FilmMart (DFM), this year presents an in-depth programme that addresses the inequalities, challenges and successes that women face within the film industry, specifically in South Africa and on the continent.
Calling for an inclusive dialogue on the role of women, the eThekwini Municipality’s film industry arm - the Durban Film Office, the Durban International Film Festival, the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF), the lobby and advocacy organization Sisters Working in Film and Television (SWIFT), and international partner CaribbeanTales Media Group, are all providing input into the Women Led Film - Disrupting the Status Quo programme within this year’s DFM which takes place from July 14 -17 in Durban.
“Despite major leaps for female equity across many industries, the film industry, especially behind the camera, is still very much male-dominated, and as such, requires quantum shifts to ensure that women begin playing a more equitable role going forward,” says Toni Monty, of the Durban Film Office speaking on behalf of the DFM. “The objective of our women-focused programme is to bring a variety of voices together to discuss and unpack these challenges and to find useful and tangible ways to make the change needed and desired.”
The programme will present a number of workshops, roundtables and panel discussions with leading women in film.
“In a world of vast gender inequalities, it is inevitable to reflect at such bitter reality, and more importantly start working towards their redress: which starts with creation of platforms. The Women Led Film Focus becomes one of the many attempts in securing platforms to acknowledge, deliberate, and celebrate woman excellence in the film milieu.” David wa Maahlamela, Director of UKZN’s Centre for Creative Arts, hosts of the Durban International Film Festival.
Sara Blecher, well-known South African film-maker and co-founder of SWIFT (Sisters Working in Film & Television) which aims to nurture and redress the inequalities faced by women in the South African audiovisual industry, echoes these sentiments, “As the women’s struggle in film begins to finally garner the attention it needs around the world, we need to look to achieving some concrete results. We have to really start looking at the local film landscape and our status within this. The focus on women at DFM, will help shine the spotlight both on the representation of women on the screen, but also more importantly on the women behind the screen.”
Parallel to the DFM focus, the DIFF will be highlighting films made by and about women within its screening programme. Festival Manager, Chipo Zhou says, “The festival has this year taken considered strides to ensure that the inclusivity of participation by women is measurable across the board from selection, jury and facilitator panels throughout the different facets of our event. The quality of film submissions by women this year demands that a space is created to ensure the momentum in the quantity of projects by women is not only maintained but augmented. This is a conscious move towards making this a permanent feature of the festival as our contribution towards the redress that is urgently required within the film industry.”
The NFVF has been working within this space for some time, and will be presenting the successes of their Female FilmMaker Project at the DFM. “The decision to focus on women for the NFVF is a deliberate one. The objective is to break down the barriers to entry faced by women in the industry, especially black women who are the most marginalized. If the industry is to grow, thrive and become sustainable then all South Africans need equal opportunity to participate and contribute. Programmes focused on women will continue to be prioritized and we are encouraged and proud of the success witnessed by the previous female project funding recipient”, said Zama Mkosi CEO of the National Film and Video Foundation
The Durban FilmMart runs from July 14 to 17, during the Durban International Film Festival. Delegate registration is now open. For more information or to register go to www.durbanfilmmart.com.