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On the Ground in Berlin

On the Ground in Berlin

I arrived in Berlin two days ago from NY after the huge success of The Athena Film Festival.  Did you hear we had a blizzard and people still came.  I missed the opening weekend craziness and after the insanity at the beginning of Sundance, I was really glad not to have to deal with it.  To be honest, this festival has a completely different feel than Toronto and Sundance.  It’s just more mellow.  Granted, as I mentioned, I did miss the first weekend when all the industry folks are here so I can’t compare apples and apples, but this is way more low key.  I am not innundated with press releases and with events, and I really am ok with that.

As for the movies, they are just so so.  I missed a couple of the women directed films like the Isabelle Coixet (Yesterday Never Ends) and the Nanouk Leopold (It’s All So Quiet) as well as the women centric Gloria (which has great buzz), Juliette Binoche in Camille Claudel and the always interesting Isabelle Huppert in The Nun. But Catherine Deneuve in Elle s’en va (On my Way) directed by Emmanuelle Bercot is still to come and I am looking forward to that.

I did get a chance to take in Kim Longinotto’s Salma which is a huge triumph of the spirit and this site covered in Sundance.  This film is a testament to just how far we have to go.  That girls in India are removed from the world after the get their periods and that are locked up when they refuse to compy and get married and leave school.  It breaks my heart that it is the mothers who force their daughters into these horrendous lives just because it is tradition.  Salma was locked up for 20 years before she agreed to marry.  But her spirit was not broken and she became a poet and a politician.  She is an amazing woman whose indomitable spirit was here in Berlin last night.

I also saw Lucy Walker’s The Crash Reel about snowboarder Kevin Pearce’s recovery from a traumatic brain injury.  It was MTV mixed with heartbreak.  There is so much in the news about these types of injuries, especially with veterans coming back from war, that it was interesting to see a recovery mapped out. The reality of this injury is that you may be better, that you may function, but you will never be the same. 

But the big reason I came to Berlin will happen tomorrow and I am very excited about it.  It is a joint meeting of women’s films festivals led by The International Women’s Film Festival Dortmund|Cologone and the Athena Film Festival entitled “You Cannot Be Serious” to discuss the status of women directors and to create a wroldwide push towards having a more equal playing field.  I’ll have much more to report on after that meeting.  Please check out our new network, The International Women’s Film Festival Network for more information.

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Karen Croner wrote the adaptation of Admission with Tina Fey. She's a terrific screenwriter. She wrote One True Thing which was na adaptation of Anna Quinlan's book. . Reese Witherspoon is starring in a movie called The Good Lie. The producers are almost all women and so is the writer. Nicole Holefcener finished writing/ directing a film starring Julia Louis Dreyfus at Fox Searchlight I'm not sure why journalists in general overlook writers on films the way they do. Jemma's point is well taken. As for TV writer deals women suffered getting pilots picked up because they didn't have large penalties attached to their deals like men did or have overall deals with networks as men did. By being left out for the big money they were left out in the final phase. Their business didn't mean as much. In one hour pick up to pilots the numbers for women went down. The majority of network pilots (one hour) are very male. Lots of serial killers. And yet Scandal created by Shonda Rhimes starring Kerry Washington continues to rise in the ratings. Kevin Reilly, Les Moonves, Bob Greenblatt and Paul Lee are the network honchos responsible for these decisions. Female writers are struggling as much as directors.


I love what you do Melissa but feel you give very short shrift to female writers. You rarely post announcements about their work. I understand why you want to highlight female directors. There are so many talented ones and so little opportunity but the same can be said of writers. Their employment numbers are about as low as female directors in features. Women are writing films all over the world and deserve a shout out too. Thanks for all that you do.

mel pritchard

FWIW, I heard great things about IT'S ALL SO QUIET and THE NUN. I'm usually in Berlin but am missing it this year, and very annoyed that I'll miss the discussion. Congratulations on the network! I'll be following developments with great interest, since I'm a co-founder of a programmer's network myself (@eqfafa).

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