Creating New Ways to Expand Film’s Reach and Vision During COVID

In this global Pandemic time, philanthropic resources are stretching to a maximum. As well, our vision of what is philanthropic is also expanding. For the many of us who are tech savvy and broadband accessible, while we are isolated in our homes, our intercommunications online have tripled and quadrupled. Virtual meetings and presentations abound. We are tackling service in entirely new ways and through newly chartered venues.

From the Women Make Movies website, promoting their Virtual Film Festival. THE REST I MAKE UP began March 27. (Image Credit: WMM)

The independent film community is rallying around extending ways it can serve both its filmmakers and audiences – all while shut in at home. The Art House Convergence community listserv initiated a discussion early on and set some guidelines about safety as the coronavirus started to spread in the United States. Two days before SXSW cancelled, members of AHC pondered “when and if” questions. Then, one by one, art house movie theatres posted their closing statements, and a discussion emerged on what message to place on the empty marquees.

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Verizon Creates Future Fund with $5 Million for Women in Film

Verizon “Future Fund” supports females in entertainment and technology

LOS ANGELES, CA (February 11, 2020) – Today, Verizon announced the creation of the Future Fund, a $5 million dollar commitment to support new and emerging female talent across entertainment and technology. In addition to funding, Verizon will provide Future Fund recipients with access to state-of-the-art production facilities, including the Verizon Media RYOT 5G Studio in Los Angeles and Verizon 5G Labs, as well as distribution opportunities across the Verizon Media ecosystem, which reaches nearly 900 million global consumers per month.

Verizon recently announced a new philanthropic effort called the Future Fund, which will support more women film makers. (Image Credit: Verizon Corporate Giving)

In addition to introducing the Future Fund live on stage at The 2020 MAKERS Conference in Los Angeles, Verizon Chief Marketing Officer Diego Scotti named the first project to receive its support: a feature documentary called NOT DONE. This film will examine how feminist change makers of today are carrying the torch and making real progress toward true equality.

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New YouTube Documentary Follows Gender Justice Pioneers

(Feb. 20, 2020) Today YouTube and Global Fund for Women unveiled the official trailer for “Fundamental. Gender Justice. No Exceptions” – a brand new 5 episode documentary series that follows dynamic activists from five countries who are disrupting the status quo and radically altering the course of history.

Global Fund for Women and Youtube recently announced a new documentary series focused on gender justice pioneers. (Image Credit: Global Fund for Women)

What does it really look like to be a feminist leader in 2020? Partnering with Refinery29 on the series, the first episode of “Fundamental” will launch on March 4, 2020 on Refinery29’s official YouTube channel and YouTube.com/Learning.

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Reviewing the Weinstein Trial: Molineux Witnesses and More

Feb 18 (Reuters) – A Manhattan jury’s verdict in the sexual assault trial of former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein may well hang on the testimony of three women whose accusations were not part of the underlying criminal case.

Film producer Harvey Weinstein’s tie flutters in the breeze as he arrives at New York Criminal Court during his ongoing sexual assault trial in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., February 14, 2020. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Deliberations began on Tuesday in the case of Weinstein, 67, who pleaded not guilty to sexually assaulting former production assistant Mimi Haleyi and raping Jessica Mann, a onetime aspiring actress.

During the six-week trial, the three other women – costume designer Dawn Dunning, model Tarale Wulff and actress Lauren Young – testified they were enticed into meeting Weinstein for professional reasons and then groped or raped.

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Get Inspired as a Donor and Activist by Unladylike2020

A question I ask myself and others: how do you get inspired to keep doing this work? How do you get charged up to talk about the value of feminist strategies for giving when oftentimes, philanthropy gives feminism the radio silence treatment? One way is through art.

Bessie Coleman (1892-1926), the first African American female aviator. (Artwork by Amelie Chabannes)

A powerful new infusion of art is coming out this year. It’s called Unladylike2020, and it’s a film series celebrating women trailblazers. I was fortunate enough to see a preview of the first film in the series here in Providence last year, and got a glimpse of how the series combines original artwork, animation, rare archival footage, and interviews with family members, historians, and experts who discuss how these women shaped our world. PBS’s American Masters series will be participating in the initiative with three projects: 

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Female Film Force: Bumble’s Grants to Women Behind the Camera

Feminist dating site Bumble is making grants to women filmmakers with its Female Film Force competition. (Image Credit: Bumble)

Bumble—the self-proclaimed feminist dating, lifestyle and career app—recently announced the five winners of its 2019 “Female Film Force” competition.

The competition, now in its second year, provides grants to female filmmakers in France, Germany, Ireland and the UK. Female Film Force received over 1,300 pitches by teams of women filmmakers (writers, directors, or producers) and awarded £20,000 (about $25,000 USD) to each winner.

The initial candidates had submitted their applications in March, and were subsequently reduced to a short list, following which ten teams pitched a film industry panel, and then that group was winnowed to the five victors. In addition to the grant, the winners will receive support and guidance from industry experts; the completed films will be released in January 2020.

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Dream Big: The Film Funders Who Want Girls to Be Engineers

Two girls in school uniforms cross a bridge in Haiti.
Girls in Haiti take a new bridge to school. (Photo credit: “Dream Big – Haiti Behind the Scenes”)

The number of women in engineering (the crucial E of STEM) has risen in the last few decades, but still lags behind men — only 13% of engineers are women. A new big-screen film called, “Dream Big: Engineering Our World,” seeks to inspire the next generation of diverse female engineers. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), MacGillivray Freeman Films (MFF) and Bechtel Corporation are the key partners driving this initiative.

A Film About Big Dreams

“Dream Big” shares exemplary feats of engineering and the stories of the contemporary engineers who bring them to life, with a focus on women in the field. Towering buildings, underwater robots, solar cars and sustainable city planning are a few of the topics covered.

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When Black Women Direct: Queen Latifah Gets Women of Color Behind the Camera

Queen Latifah in sunglasses
Queen Latifah in 2008 (credit: Affiliate Summit on Flickr, CC 2.0)

Minority directors are underrepresented in film at a degree of three to one, while women are underrepresented at a rate of seven to one, according to UCLA’s 2018 Hollywood Diversity Report. There is clearly room for progress here in terms of equality, especially for women who are black or of another minority identity. Rapper, singer, actress, label president, author, real estate developer and entrepreneur Queen Latifah is out to shift the scales; she recently teamed up with Tribeca Studios and Marc Pritchard, Procter and Gamble’s chief brand officer, to launch the Queen Collective (TQC). TQC has a goal of “accelerating gender and racial equality behind the camera.” Two inaugural documentaries backed by TQC premiered in April 2019 at the Tribeca Film Festival, and they are now streaming on HULU.

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New Funding to Spotlight Women’s Many Historic Roles in Filmmaking

Jill Godmilow editing her 1975 documentary, ANTONIA: A PORTRAIT OF THE WOMAN, one of the many thousands of films in the AFI Catalog of Feature Films.



Gender-lens projects coming out of Washington, D.C. these days are rare, but here’s a great one. The National Endowment for the Humanities has just awarded the American Film Institute a $350,000 grant toward a study on gender parity in the history of American film. The funds support a survey of the roles of women in the over 100 years of American movies that are in the database in the AFI Catalog of Feature Films. The collection has amassed over 500,000 listed credits on all these productions.

The database is complete for the years 1893-1993 and is abbreviated for films released after 1993. It covers all Hollywood films and independent works that made theatrical release. My own single entry is here.

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Male Domination Prevails: Detailing Media’s Gender Imbalance

The Women’s Media Center 2019 report shows how men dominate media. (Image Credit: Women’s Media Center 2019 report)

Despite decades-long efforts from female journalists, broadcasters, writers, editors, and other media professionals, a gap persists in the representation and employment of women across all forms of media. The imbalance is even starker for female media professionals who are otherwise marginalized, like women of color, women with disabilities, and women who identify as part of the LGBTQ community.

The Women’s Media Center, a feminist organization that aims to close the gender and racial gaps in media with pointed research and training, recently released its annual flagship report on women’s media representation, including both the inequalities that haven’t been addressed and the progress that’s been made over the past year.

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