No one said the name “Donald Trump” at the annual Through Her Lens: The Tribeca Chanel Women’s Filmmaker Program kickoff luncheon, held this afternoon at New York City’s Locanda Verde restaurant. But they didn’t need to. As Jane Rosenthal, the Executive Chair of Tribeca Enterprises (and co-founder of the Tribeca Film Festival) greeted the crowd with an enthusiastic cry for her fellow “nasty ladies!” to welcome each other, it was clear that the group, composed of leading female actresses, directors, writers, producers, casting directors and costume designers, was already on the same page.
Now in its second year, the Through Her Lens program is a three-day workshop that “aims to balance industry support, artistic development and funding for new and emerging U.S.-based female writers and directors of short-form narrative films.” This year’s group consists of five filmmakers, who will each pitch their project to a group of industry peers in hopes of being awarded full financing to make their short (the four other projects will each receive other grants to help aid in the creation of their films). The luncheon is traditionally held on the first day of the program, and offers up a chance for the filmmakers and other friends of Tribeca to mix and mingle.
Guests this year included all five filmmakers — Ani Simon-Kennedy, Catherine Eaton, A.V. Rockwell, Joey Ally and Sonejuhi Sinha — along with mentors, advisors and supporters like Katie Holmes, Sienna Miller, Jennifer Westfeldt, Rashida Jones, Zosia Mamet, Emily Mortimer, Ruth Wilson, Mary Stuart Masterson and Mamie Gummer. And it came as no surprise that everyone wanted to talk about the upcoming — and historical — election.
As Rosenthal unveiled some brief opening remarks, her focus was clear. “In two weeks from today, I hope that we will break the biggest glass ceiling we’ve ever had,” she said. Greeted with a very loud response from the packed room, Rosenthal laughed, “So, obviously, you all know what I’m talking about.”
It was with that same boundary-busting spirit that Rosenthal highlighted the intent of the program, which nodded to something said by Ingrid Jungermann, whose horror-comedy “Women Who Kill” debuted at the film festival earlier this year. When discussing being a woman in the industry and the growing uptick — or at least interest — in female-led filmmaking, Jungermann called the change in attitude “hashtag diversity,” and it’s a concept that has stuck with Rosenthal.
“‘Hashtag diversity,’ ‘women filmmaking,’ it’s new to a lot of people. That’s why they’re putting ‘hashtag’ [on it]. At Tribeca, it’s in our DNA,” Rosenthal said. “We’re thrilled that this project can actually really mentor women storytellers, no matter what part of the story you want to tell and how you want to tell it.”
For Tribeca, talking the talk is not nearly as important as walking the walk, something they’ve done for many years. And their support of women couldn’t come at a more canny time. Rosenthal was followed by Paula Weinstein, her long-time mentor and the Executive Vice President Tribeca Enterprises, who also had Trump on the brain.
“I’m so happy to see you all here,” Weinstein said to the crowd. “And particularly happy in view of the vulgarity and the language that has been presented to us through this campaign, on one side.”
But Weinstein found one silver lining.
“The more we think about it, in a way we’re glad that all the hidden words are gone and the true feelings are out,” she said to an increasingly raucous crowd. “We always knew what we were fighting, but now there’s a larger group, women of all different parties and political convictions, who are coming together in understanding that the patriarchy [won’t die easily], but it will.”
She was also hopeful about the larger role that women and their vote will play in the presidential election, noting, “Women have, over the last few years, made the difference in elections — but never quite as we will this time.”
In closing her brief remarks, which leaned heavily on lauding the next generation of filmmakers in the room, Weinstein maintained her singular focus on the future, one that was met with the loudest applause of the afternoon: “Onward to victory in two weeks from now.”
The three-day Through Her Lens program is taking place now in New York City, and concludes on Thursday with the announcement of the winner of the program’s full-finance grant.