Jane Rosenthal is mad as hell, but she’s got an idea for how to turn that anger into action. After weeks of allegations of sexual harassment and abuse against various bigwigs in the entertainment industry, many of them waged by actresses and female filmmakers, the producer has cooked up a plan to help change the industry and the world. No surprise, it asks for talented and rising women to help each other in a male-dominated business, all for the better.
Rosenthal, who co-founded the Tribeca Film Festival with Robert DeNiro and currently serves Chief Executive Officer of Tribeca Enterprises, today opened up this year’s kickoff lunch for the third annual Through Her Lens: Tribeca Chanel Women’s Filmmaker Program, with some pointed remarks. As she put it, “I’m having a Howard Beale moment. Like the character Peter Finch played in ‘Network,’ I’m mad as hell,” later adding, “I want you to get mad! I’m mad.”
Now in its third year, The Through Her Lens: The Tribeca Chanel Women’s Filmmaker Program brings together industry support, artistic development, and funding to assist and help new and emerging U.S.-based female writers and directors of short-form narrative films through an annual three-day intensive. This year’s filmmakers include Marianne Amelinckx, Nicole Emanuele, Myna Joseph, Nikyatu Jusu, and Anna Zlokovic; mentors include Amma Asante, Dakota Fanning, Donna Gigliotti, Laura Karpman, Riva Marker, and Sandy Powell.
As is tradition, each year the program opens with a lunch that brings together the filmmakers, alongside mentors, jurors, and other women in the filmmaking industry. Last year’s event bowed just days before the presidential election, and Rosenthal was quick to point out how very different the world was just a year ago.
“A year ago, we sat in this room, filled with optimism because our country was about to elect a strong woman to be our president,” she said. “The deal was sealed a few days earlier when her opposing candidate was all over the airwaves bragging about committing sexual assault. And, guess what, he’s not in jail, he’s in the White House – that is, when he’s not playing on one of his golf courses.”
Rosenthal continued, naming other “powerful predators,” including Clarence Thomas, Bill O’Reilly, Bill Cosby, Roger Ailes, Anthony Weiner, and, of course, Harvey Weinstein. As she put it, “These monsters…aren’t going to change their world through conversation. We have to change the world around them.”
Rosenthal, it seems, has a plan — or at least an idea for a way forward. “Women must come forward,” she said. “We must encourage and support each other. We must understand that an assault on one of us is an assault on all of us. We must demand justice.”
This year’s Tribeca Film Festival included a high number of films directed by women — a full one-third — and the Tribeca Film Institute has so far supported 55 projects by women this year, but even Rosenthal does not think that is enough.
“We must do better,” she said. “When you hit success, when you take another step forward it’s not enough, make sure you pull another woman up with you. Women producers, select women directors. Women directors, hire more women designers and crew. Produce and direct the work of women writers. Women in power, commit to mentoring the next generation of women in power.”