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NYU Kicks Off New Fest Dedicated To Women Filmmakers

NYU Kicks Off New Fest Dedicated To Women Filmmakers

NYU Kicks Off New Fest Dedicated To Women Filmmakers

by Rania Richardson

Emma Heald (left) and Gina Abatemarco (right), co-founders of the Fusion Film Festival. Image courtesy of the festival.

“Fusion: A Celebration of Female Filmmakers,” a new festival highlighting the past, present, and future of women filmmakers, debuted last night at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. The three-day festival is spotlighting the work of women filmmakers at NYU as well as in the industry as a whole, with a focus on the two roles where women are least represented: director and cinematographer.

Tisch School senior Gina Abatemarco (’04) and undergraduate alumna Emma Heald (’03), who are former roommates, founded the festival. “We noticed a lack of confidence amongst our female peers in the areas of directing and cinematography and saw a need for role models past and present,” Heald told indieWIRE. “We want to hear the stories and experiences of women pursuing their dreams.”

To that end, two panels of industry professionals are the highlight of the festival with high-profile participants including directors Julie Taymor (“Frida”), Rebecca Miller (“Personal Velocity”), Chris Hegedus (“”), and cinematographer Ellen Kuras (“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”).

The will screen current student work, with an introduction and prizes by Tisch School of the Arts alumna Amy Heckerling (“Clueless”). The work of male filmmakers will be included in collaborative work, with prizes available to the men as well. One of the goals of the festival is to encourage respectful and supportive collaboration between the sexes. “We don’t want to create a segregated community. We are working towards a day when the gender label goes away, when the number of women filmmakers is on par with the number of men,” said Heald.

The past will be explored on Saturday, the final day of the festival, with a retrospective of work by French director Agnes Varda and a screening of Ken Bowser‘s “The Secret History,” a documentary about the unsung women who have participated in the film industry in various capacities. All panels and screenings are free and open to the public, with limited seating.

A group of students and alumnae from the Kanbar Institute of Film and Television at Tisch founded the Fusion organization, which hopes to make this an annual event for film students, faculty, alumni, and industry professionals. The group held its first event last November, a panel discussion regarding issues facing women filmmakers in New York followed by a screening of Katja Esson‘s “Ferry Tales,” nominated for a 2004 Academy Award for Documentary Short Subject.

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