WMM Summit: Laverne Cox and Netflix Exec Discuss Being Seen in Film

How many girls see themselves in office because of characters like Leslie Knope and Selina Meyer? How many teenagers cheer on their on-screen counterparts in movies like The Half of It, which features a queer, Chinese-American leading lady, and TV shows like Sex Education, where the beautifully diverse cast of high school characters has captured hearts around the world?

Laverne Cox
Laverne Cox poses in the press room during the 22nd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Auditorium on January 30, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Image Credit: Getty Images, Frazer Harrison)

During the second day of the Women Moving Millions annual summit, Laverne Cox took the virtual stage with Darnell Moore, Director of Inclusion Strategy for Content and Marketing at Netflix, to discuss the power inherent in seeing people who look, talk, and live like us in the TV shows and movies we watch.

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Liveblog: Women in Media Changing the Game

On Thursday, August 27th, we gathered for this month’s Philanthropy Women webinar: Women in Media Changing the Game. With guests Lori Sokol, Ruth Ann Harnisch, and Johanna Derlega, we discussed the under-funding and under-representation of female journalists and women’s media outlets, as well as ways funders can work to fix this under-representation.

How To Increase Funding for Women in Media

Editor-in-Chief Kiersten Marek kicked off the call with a reminder to breathe, and introduced today’s theme: Women in Media Changing the Game.

“We know now more than ever how important women’s leadership is,” she said. “COVID has taught us that women leaders in countries around the world have had much better success with managing COVID. And that’s just one example of the women’s leadership differential—the ability to prioritize health and the well-being of others.”

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Going On the Record to Fight for Gender Equality

With COVID-19 dominating news feeds, it’s more important than ever before to keep our attention on movements like #MeToo and the fight for gender equality. The music industry, like many male-dominated fields, is rife with stories of harassment and assault. And the disconcerting trend we see over and over in cases of sexual assault pops up in the music industry, too: the silence of women scared that speaking up will mean losing their careers.

From left to right: Sil Lai Abrams, Drew Dixon and Sheri Hines attending Sundance Film Festival, Park City, USA – 26 Jan 2020. (Image Credit: Photo by Katie Jones/Variety/Shutterstock)

Academy Award-nominated filmmakers Amy Ziering and Kirby Dick seek to break this mold in On the Record, an intense and poignant account of one woman’s fight to tell her story. Drew Dixon, formerly a music executive at Def Jam Recordings and Arista Records, is one of the first women of color to speak up publicly about sexual assault at the hands of a prominent industry giant. On the Record tells her story, and those of several other women alleging sexual assault, harassment, or rape by music mogul Russell Simmons.

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One of Many Documents the Pivotal 2017 Women’s March

One of Many, a short film about the 2017 Women’s March, and an official selection of the upcoming 2020 International New York Film Festival, is seeking digital distribution. As the Trump era lurches to a close, and new rounds of protests occupy the streets, One of Many documents the women’s marches that occurred nationwide three-and-a-half years ago in opposition to Trump, and more broadly, to sexism, patriarchy, and racism.

One of Many documents the women’s marches that occurred nationwide three-and-a-half years ago in opposition to Trump, and more broadly, to sexism, patriarchy, and racism. (Image Credit: One of Many)

“The film captures the widespread, collective outrage that President Trump’s inauguration provoked while contextualizing it within historical human rights movements,” notes One of Many Executive Producer Jessica Good. The sixteen-minute documentary is directed by M.J. Bernier and debuted last fall at Atlanta’s Out on Film festival, one of the oldest and largest LGBTQ+ film festivals.

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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.

weinstein trial
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.

unladylike2020
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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