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The Ava DuVernay Lesson: Women Take Matters into Their Own Hands

The Ava DuVernay Lesson: Women Take Matters into Their Own Hands

The lack of women participating not only in front but behind the camera in Hollywood has been a hot topic throughout the past year, as the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission interviews women film and TV directors about their under-served roles in Hollywood (16% of the episodic TV directing jobs, and less than 5% of the major studio releases).
As women become more activist and speak out more, they are stepping up and taking matters into their own hands. Director Ava DuVernay (“Selma”), who just landed a potential franchise at Disney, is one role model, but there are many others, from movie star director Angelina Jolie (“Unbroken”) to EW cover woman and producer, Reese Witherspoon (“Wild”).

Strikingly, women dominated the conversation at this year’s Sundance. And a number of organizations are expanding their efforts on behalf of women filmmakers, not just the Sundance Institute and Women in Film, but Women and Hollywood’s Athena Film Festival, Emily Best’s Seed&Spark, Melinda Fox, Amy Hobby and Anne Hubbell’s Tangerine Entertainment (see tanji.mobi) and Susan Cartsonis’s Storefront Pictures.  Just this week Jessica Chastain announced she was starting her own production company, Freckle.

Now comes news of a new, non-profit organization, We Do It Together, “created to finance and produce films, documentaries, TV and other forms of media uniquely dedicated to the empowerment of women,” reports Deadline. They seek to “create content that will change perceptions of female stereotypes.” On the advisory board of the company: actresses Jessica Chastain, Juliette Binoche, Freida Pinto, Zhang Ziyi and Queen Latifah, as well as directors Katia Lund, Marielle Heller and Catherine Hardwicke and Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates. The board of directors includes producers Albert Berger, Hannah Weg, Carol Polakoff and Shelby Stone, agents Dana Archer and Sandra Lucchesi, and Mosaic manager Paul Nelson. 

The company plans to raise funding from all possible sources—government grants, sponsors, equity investors— to finance film production. They plan to announce their first project at Cannes.

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