“Every time we get hired, every time we work, every time we push back, we make change.”
Earlier this week, the AFI Directing Workshop For Women (AFI DWW) held its annual short film showcase at the Directors Guild of America theater in Hollywood, where “Boys Don’t Cry” director Kimberly Peirce gave a heartfelt, personal keynote address about what it is like to be a female director — including the above quote.
Using anecdotes about her experience as a director both during and in between projects, Peirce spun a funny, engaging narrative where she not only highlighted the roadblocks she has faced along the way, but also communicated her unwavering passion for the craft and enthusiasm for the future.
Given the recent circulation of various statistics, infographics and editorials highlighting the lack of opportunities for women in Hollywood, the 40th anniversary of AFI DWW came at an opportune time. AFI DWW is more than just an advocate for female directors. The workshop operates as an agent of change, setting an example for the rest of the industry by consistently providing new female talent with professional directing opportunities.
AFI’s decision to combine AFI DWW’s 40th anniversary celebration with the short film showcase for this year’s directing class conveys a striking message — one that reminds us how even as we strive for change we should not forget to celebrate the successes of the past. In celebrating past successes, we are not getting caught in the past, but rather adding weight to success in both the present and future.
Peirce reiterated this notion through her anecdote about the back and forth with the studio regarding the ending she wrote for last year’s “Carrie” reboot. Initially scrapped, the studio eventually reverted to Peirce’s ending after the replacement they shot did not test well. Peirce shot her ending, but ultimately, the studio went back on their decision and decided not to use it. Instead, they put it on the DVD — which, Peirce insists in her speech, is also a win for her, even though it’s not the win she may have wanted initially.
“You are the cinema that has yet to be shown,” she told the AFI DWW Class of 2013.
Watch Pierce’s speech in full: