By: BRENDAN MCDANIEL
It’s not exactly breaking news that the film industry isn’t the most welcoming place for women. With the #MeToo movement finally starting to slow down, roughly a year and a half after its start in October 2017, people are beginning to wonder what’s next in the fight for equality in Hollywood.
Locally, women’s films will be celebrated this weekend. This Saturday, April 13th, will see the 2nd Annual LUNAFEST Michiana. From 1-4 p.m., short films directed by and starring women will be shown at Carroll Auditorium at Saint Mary’s College.
“Women in general have been underrepresented in the filmmaking industry,” said Barbara Williams organizer for LUNAFEST Michiana.
Showings will be followed by small group discussions about the films, ranging from 3 to 17 minutes in length. While the films are all about the stories and experiences of women, they cover an impressive range of subject matter. “The Final Show,” directed by Dana Nachman, follows a woman as she moves on to the afterlife and has to choose which of three romantic partners to take with her. Meanwhile, “Are We Good Parents?,” directed by Bola Ogun, depicts a liberal family as they come to terms with their teenage child’s genderfluidity.
Aside from simply providing a stage for deserving short films and their crew to show off their work, LUNAFEST also provides several practical functions.
“Almost all directors have made short films first, and then moved into the industry…Women spend more time in their careers making short films before they make it into major films,” said Williams.
It’s a crucial step for any aspiring director, actor or crew member, and yet women account for disproportionately less of at each step of the process then men. While roughly a third of all film directors are women, the amount that break through to the larger film industry is horrifically low. According to a study conducted in collaboration with the Media, Diversity, & Social Change Initiative at the University of Southern California, working with LUNAFEST and USC Annenberg, titled “Gender & Short Films: Emerging Female Filmmakers and the Barriers Surrounding their Careers”, 28% of short film directors are women. In the next stage, independent narrative feature films, women only account for 18% of directors. Only 16% go on to direct episodic television, and that number plummets to 4% for top grossing feature-length films.
Film festivals are one of the few routes available for prospective directors to advance their careers. Every festival they can get into provides essential experience, critical feedback and networking opportunities that allow them to move on to bigger projects. Independent short film festivals such as LUNAFEST are vital for many of these directors in order to get their creative visions out into the world. And getting these visions out into the world is important; the right work at the right time in a person’s life can be life-changing.
There are still huge numbers of people who are starved for representation in film.
“It encourages people to tell their own stories; stories of their families… The more stories we tell, the more it shares with the world,” said Williams.
Tickets purchased for LUNAFEST are $10 for students and $20 for general audience ahead of time, or $15 for students and $20 for general audience at the door. Proceeds of the event will go to St. Margaret’s House and Girls On The Run Michiana.