Some of my
earliest memories are related to moving images and to feminism. As a
three-year-old, I was annoyed by the fact that in Spanish, my native tongue, we
refer to a group of women and men by using the male plural “ellos.” I
complained about the relentless presence of cartoon boys on the screen, taking
up room that I thought should be shared with girls. I was a feminist toddler
who became a feminist adult.
And yet, it wasn’t until I was 30 years old and
working toward my Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Composition at Purdue University that I
realized that what bothers me on screen is the result of what happens behind the cameras of the stories I’d been insatiably consuming for three
decades. It was only when I stood behind a camera for the first time that it
clicked for me: the reason why there are so few complex, realistic women I can
relate to on screen is that the ones producing, writing, directing, filming and
editing the stories I’m watching are predominantly men.
We as a culture
are so infatuated with what is on the screen, so in love with loving, judging,
and hating the performances and lives of actors, that we forget that actors
have limited control over the stories we consume. It is the unseen executives,
screenwriters, crew and postproduction teams who shape what ends up on the big
and small screens that enrich our lives. If we want stories about women that
women (and men) can connect to, we have to become aware of who is making the
media we watch and support women behind the camera.
It shouldn’t take getting a Ph.D. or becoming a filmmaker to figure this out, so we at agnès films, a website that supports the work of
women and feminist filmmakers, are running the #FavWomanFilmmaker campaign from
Monday, November 9 to Thursday, November 12 to inspire audiences around the
world to talk about the work of women filmmakers. The campaign, organized by
myself and several Michigan State University students working with agnès films, will
launch four videos, one for each day. Here is our Monday video:
Our hope is that
when people watch the videos, they will either think of all the women filmmakers
they love or wonder why they don’t have a favorite woman filmmaker. The campaign
wants to get the latter thinking about who is making the work they consume and
how those people are shaping what they see onscreen. Each video provides
viewers with a number of women filmmakers to check out, explaining why their
work is resonant and important. It is our hope that people will respond to the
videos by creating their own videos, blog posts and Tweets using the
#FavWomanFilmmaker hashtag and telling us whose work they love and why. We will
collect all the videos and blog posts on agnès
films and make the link available as a resource for years to come.
We are also
hosting a number of Twitter interviews and chats around the topic of women
filmmakers with filmmakers, activists, and academics around the world that
will provide those following the campaign with a context within which to
understand the current situation of women in film. As those conversations will
make clear, it isn’t that there are no women filmmakers out there. There are
thousands, in fact, making brilliant, transcendent work every year. However,
because the industry is so male-centered, all the way from studio executives to
film critics to film-festival juries, that work doesn’t get the attention it so
With the #FavWomanFilmmaker campaign, we aim to bring
visibility to those films and to inspire emerging and established women
filmmakers to keep doing the vital work they are doing.
Click here to find out how to participate in the campaign so you can
help us change the world we see on screen and the world we live in.
is an assistant professor of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures at
Michigan State University, a filmmaker and editor-in-chief of agnès films.