Meet Soundarya Rajnikanth, director of VELLAI ILLA PATTADHARI 2 — Interview by Mythily Ramachandran (Exclusive)

Soundarya Rajnikanth headshotA career in films was inevitable for Soundarya Rajnikanth, the youngest daughter of Tamil superstar Rajnijanth. Soundarya stepped out of her father’s shadow in 2014 to direct her first film, Kochadaiiyaan, an animated period film shot with motion-capture technology, a first in the history of Indian cinema. Director Soundarya returns with her second feature, the live action Vella Illa Pattadhari 2 (Unemployed Graduate, in Tamil), a sequel to the eponymous Tamil blockbuster released in 2015. Read Indian film journalist Mythily Ramachandran’s exclusive interview on The Female Gaze.

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN News: Whittaker lands DOCTOR WHO, DuVernay teases WRINKLE and Henson joins WRECK-IT — Brandy McDonnell reports

The 13th Doctor is in, and the iconic science fiction series finally has a female lead. Jodie Whittaker will be the 13th time lord on the long-running Doctor Who series. Ava DuVernay revealed the first trailer for her adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time at D23, the Disney fan expo in Anaheim, California. The science fiction thriller also has female leads. Storm Reid stars as Meg, with Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling and Oprah Winfrey as supernatural guides on Meg’s inter-dimensional journey to rescue her father. In good casting news, Taraji. P. Henson joins the Wreck-It Ralph sequel and Lily James joins the Mamma Mia! follow-up. Continue reading on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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THE FEMALE GAZE: Pamela Yates talks THE RESISTANCE SAGA, documentary commitment and challenges — Jennifer Merin interviews

pamela yates reelPamela Yates makes documentaries that make a difference. Some 35 years in the making, Yates’ The Resistance Saga, a trilogy about the Mayan people’s human rights struggle in Guatemala, actually helped change the course of history in that country. Footage from the first film became forensic evidence to convict former Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Montt of crimes against humanity. Montt’s trial was covered in the second film, The final film, which updates us while setting the saga within the context of a long history of exploitation, abuse and genocide, opens theatrically on July 12. Read what Pamela Yates says about her career, and the challenges and opportunities inherent in documentary filmmaking on THE FEMALE GAZE.

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Filmmaker Interview: Directors Sabine Krayenbühl and Zeva Oelbaum on LETTERS FROM BAGHDAD

letters from baghdad headshot smallLetters from Baghdad is the story of Gertrude Bell, an extraordinary women, sometimes called the “female” Lawrence of Arabia. She was a British spy, explorer and political powerhouse. Bell traveled widely in Arabia before being recruited by British military intelligence during WWI to help draw the borders of Iraq. As a result, she helped shape the modern Middle East. Read what Letters from Baghdad directors Sabine Krayenbühl and Zeva Oelbaum have to say about Gertrude Bell, their compelling documentary and how it came to be, and the female perspective on filmmaking on THE FEMALE GAZE.

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AWFJ EDA Awards @DOXA 2017 Filmmaker Interview: Justine Harbonnier on ANDREW KEEGAN IS MOVING

JUSTINE HARBONNIERFilmmaker Justine Harbonnier takes us to Montreal, where the city’s oldest house is being moved to make way for posh modern condos. Her profound and poetic film reflects her questions about how such moves impact a neighborhood and its residents, and others who pass by without even noticing these changes that effect the future of their city. Read what she has to day about making the film and her future plans on THE FEMALE GAZE.

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AWFJ EDA Award @ DOXA 2017 Filmmaker Interview: Heather White on COMPLICIT

HEATHER WHITEWhile people in the West use smartphones to live healthier, happier lives, the construction of such devices has horrific health effects on the people who actually make them. Complicit shines a light on the dark irony of the global electronic manufacturing industry in China, where 90% of the world’s consumer electronics are produced, including 70% of its cell phones. Read what Complicit co-direcxtor Heather White has to say about her compelling expose on THE FEMALE GAZE.

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AWFJ EDA Award @ DOXA 2017 Filmmaker Interview: Jessica Kingdon on COMMODITY CITY

JESSICA KINGDON DOXA HEADChina’s Yiwu Market is one of the largest shopping complexes in the world. Gorgeously shot, thematically focused and politically resonant, Jessica Kingdon’s ethnographic essay film blurs the boundary between consumer goods and the humans who sell them. Malls consume more than they are consumed, Small spaces, time lost,immersion in distraction. Read what Jessica Kingdon has to say about the making and meaning of her film on THE FEMALE GAZE.

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AWFJ EDA Award @ DOXA 2017 Filmmaker Interview: Julia Hechler on LES CLOYS

julia hechler doxa2017In a particular Parisian neighborhood, residents have devised a means of establishing their own cultural identity and reclaiming their person power through the creation of a slanguage they call Verlan (back to front). American filmmaker Julia Hechler captures their trending tongue on film. Read what she has to say about the importance of language, getting to know your subjects and her next career moves on THE FEMALE GAZE.

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AWFJ EDA Awards @DOXA 2017 Filmmaker Interview: Cat Mills on FIXED!

cat mills doxa filmmakerRepair cafes are popping up around the world as a community-based antidote to throwaway culture. In Cat Mills’ EDA Award-nominated short, Fixed!, we get a glimpse inside Canada’s first repair cafe in Toronto, where a team of dedicated volunteers are helping their neighbors, one fix at a time. Read what she has to say about her beautifully crafted film, its riveting subjects, and her career. Read more on THE FEMALE GAZE

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AWFJ EDA Award @ DOXA 2017 Filmmaker Interview: Clara van Gool on VOICES OF FINANCE

van gool doxa short 2017 filmmakerDutch filmmaker Clara van Gool’s short dance documentary takes us to London’s bleak financial district, where traders, bankers, and hedge fund managers describe an atavistic society, blood red in tooth and claw. As they move through the city streets, bodies become a metaphor for the extremity of an industry that twists and bends human nature into torturous form. Read what Clara van Gool has to say about making the film, dance as metaphor and her career on THE FEMALE GAZE.

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AWFJ EDA Awards @ DOXA Filmmaker Interview: Elisa Chee on LUCY

elisa chee filmmaker doxaNominated for the AWFJ EDA Award or Best Female-Directed Short at DOXA 2017, Vancouver-based filmmaker Elisa Chee uses masterful animation to recall the story of a domesticated chimpanzee called Lucy and a human named Janis Carter, the caretaker who made it her life’s work to rehabilitate Lucy and return her to her natural environment. Read what she has to say about her beautifully crafted short film, its subjects, animation in documentaries and her career on THE FEMALE GAZE.

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AWFJ EDA Award @ DOXA 2017 Filmmaker Interview: Alexandra Gaulupeau on LIFE AT A SNAIL’S PACE

alexandra gaulupeau for doxa2017.Filmmaker Alexandra Gaulupeau takes us into the unique world of Marla Coppolino, a malacologist (snail expert), artist and self-proclaimed spokesperson for the largely misunderstood diminutive species of land snails. Through the creation of elaborate miniature scenes and cello scores, Coppolino displays her own mighty appreciation for the tiny, slimy (and surprisingly sexy) creatures! Read what Alexandra Gaulupeau has to say about making her first film, microphotography and mini-budgeting and connecting people to the natural world on THE FEMALE GAZE

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AWFJ EDA Award @ DOXA 2017 Filmmaker Interview: Claire Simon on LE CONCOURS

claire simon 275Le Concours, translated as “The Entrance Exam,” is an in-depth and intimate look at the students applying to La Fémis, one of the world’s most famous and prestigious film, where filmmaker Claire Simon was Head of Directing Studies. As the budding cinéastes struggle to find a place, the narrative spends a good deal of time with their interlocutors, pulling back the curtain to reveal the depth of seriousness and care that is extended to the students. Impassioned arguments about merit, and the very nature of cinema are hurled into the air. Read what Claire Simon has to say about her most recent project on THE FEMALE GAZE.

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On Making SEEING IS BELIEVING: WOMEN DIRECT – Guest Post by Filmmaker Cady McClain

cady mcclain headshotCady McClain has been speaking to female directors, chronicling their stories for her serialized documentary, Seeing is Believing: Women Direct. Interviewees include Sarah Gavron, Lee Grant, Meera Menon, Betty Thomas and other accomplished directors, as well as next generation women filmmakers just blazing career paths. Not yet ready for release, Seeing is Believing: Women Direct elucidates skills needed to succeed as a woman director; women mentor women by sharing their experiences via filmed interviews. Here, McClain writes about her filmmaking process, why she’s making this documentary and what she’s learning from doing so. Read more on THE FEMALE GAZE

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Women on Top Summit @ Whistler Film Festival: Keynote Address by Valerie Creighton, Canadian Media Fund

valerie-creightonAt Whistler Film Festival’s spirited Women on Top Summit (held December 3, atop Whistler Mountain), Canada Media Fund’s president and CEO Valerie Creighton affirmed and underscored Canada’s commitment to reach parity for women working in all aspects of the country’s moving image industries. Creighton’s speech provides comprehensive coverage of status and strategies re Canada reaching the goal of gender parity. The entire address is published on THE FEMALE GAZE

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AWFJ EDA Awards @ IDFA 2016 Filmmaker Interview: Asli Ozarslan on DIL LEYLA

asli-ozarslanAsli Özarslan’s Dil Leyla is the story of Imret Leyla, mayor of Cizre, a Kurdish town in Turkey. At age 26, she’s the youngest mayor in Turkey. Having left Cizre for Germany at age five, after her father, a Kurdish guerilla, was killed, she returns to help rebuild her town. Political tensions rise as Turkey’s national elections near. In profiling Leyla’s struggle, Özarslan calls forth contemplation of Turkey’s political climate and of women’s influence in bettering the outlook. Read Özarslan’s interview about the film on THE FEMALE GAZE.

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AWFJ EDA Awards @ IDFA 2016 Filmmaker Interview: Areum Parkkang on AREUM

areum-parkkangIn her first documentary feature, South Korean teacher and filmmaker Areum Parkkang takes a look at her own difficulties in finding a boyfriend. When her numerous blind dates don’t lead anywhere, she asks her students for their advise. They tell her that it is her appearance that is off putting. They advise her to make herself more attractive by slimming down, dressing up in a more feminine way, and wearing makeup. Read her interview on THE FEMALE GAZE

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AWFJ EDA Awards @ IDFA 2016 Filmmaker Interview: Maite Alberdi on THE GROWN-UPS

maite-alberdi-300x200Chilean documentarian Maite Alberdi’s uniquely intimate observational style give us an up close and personal glimpse into the world of four adults with Down syndrome, all of whom struggle to live more independently in a social structure that has confined them for 40 plus years in a special education school where they’ve been trained and mow work. In a most humane and compassionate way, the film embraces the dreams and frailties of its leading characters and exposes the ways in which socially conscious compassion and the need for expediency conflict in impacting the lives of people who don’t fit social ‘norms.’ Read Alberdi’s comments on making the filming The Grown Ups and filmmaking on THE FEMALE GAZE.

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EDA Awards @ IDFA 2016 Filmmaker Interview: Coco Schrijber on HOW TO MEET A MERMAID

cococroppedsmallDutch filmmaker Coco Schrijber’s highly cinematic style and essay-like approach to filmmaking transforms her personal quest for resolution about her brother’s downing suicide into a profound contemplation of life-sustaining and death-dealing aspects of the sea. She evokes the unsolved mystery of Rebecca, a cruise ship employee who disappeared while her ship was at sea and the story of a Mexican surfer who is flying across the ocean to find more challenging waves on other shores to broaden her narrative. Read what Coco Schrijber has to say about the film and filmmaking on THE FEMALE GAZE.

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AWFJ EDA Awards @ IDFA 2016 Filmmaker Interview: Mette Carla Albrechtsen and Lea Glob on VENUS

mettecarla-and-lea-cropped-300x216Danish filmmakers Mette Carla Albrechtsen and Lea Glob explore the subject of young women’s sexuality by setting up an open ‘casting call’ at which they interview the film’s subjects about their sexual experiences and attitudes towards sexuality and their bodies as they develop from adolescence to womanhood. Through this compilation of interviews, the filmmakers contemplate their own attitudes towards sex, and offer the opportunity for women who see the film to do as, as well. Read what they have to say about Venus and filmmaking on THE FEMALE GAZE

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EDA Awards @ IDFA 2016 Filmmaker Interview: Alice Schmid on THE GIRL DOWN LOCH ANZI

alice-schmid-headshotAlice Schmid, filmmaker and novelist, tells stories from around the globe, mostly focusing on children. Say No (1993) is a film classic on child abuse. Working in Liberia and Sierra Leone from 1999 to 2002, she showed the lives of child soldiers. In Letter to Grown-Ups (1994) she followed a child through the mine-fields of Cambodia. In Every Drop For The Future (1996), she accompanied a Bolivian girl on her two-hour walk to school. Schmid’s latest documentary, The Girl Down Loch Anzi, is nominated for the IDFA 2016 AWFJ EDA Award for Best Female-Directed Film. Read her comments about the film on THE FEMALE GAZE.

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EBERTFEST 2016: WOMEN IN FILM PANEL — Chaz Ebert Moderated

ebertbest 2016 women's panel“How can you make an Oscar worthy film with one tenth of the budget? It’s an uneven playing field to begin with,” Darrien Gipson said in addressing the amazing disparity between the stats regarding the numbers of women compared to men from the very start of the hierarchical ladder to achievement in noviemaking. Gipson was a member of EBERTFEST’s Women in Film panel. Read more on THE FEMALE GAZE FORUM

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Demand Equal Representation for Women Documentarians, Too – Guest Post by Victoria Cook

Victoria-CookRegarding the Oscars, there is a pervasive misperception that the documentary category is more inclusive, less sexist and less racist than the other categories. Recent talk about the underrepresentation of women and people of color as directors in the entertainment industry as a whole (reference recent articles in the NYT Sunday Magazine, Forbes and Variety about the 7% statistic, and Jennifer Lawrence’s speaking out, etc) and specifically about underrepresentation of women in the major Oscars categories, but there is no public discourse about this also being a pervasive problem in the documentary category. It’s time to speak up! Read more on THE FEMALE GAZE.

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Mary Walsh’s Feminist Keynote Speech @ Whistler Film Fest 2015 – Guest Column (Exclusive)

mary walsh head brixWe’re still celebrating something we like to call International Women’s Day. Even root vegetables get a whole week. Yes, International Turnip Week, October 7th to 14th. And the entire month of May is International Pecan Month, a whole month for nuts, and women only get a day. Who knew back in the second-wave, when we were all sitting around trying to get a gawk at our vajayjays with those mirrors, that the world would end up here. Of course, that’s the thing about the future, you never know what’s coming at you. Read the full speech in THE FEMALE GAZE.

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EDA Awards @ IDFA 2015 Filmmaker Interview: Alisa Kovalenko on ALISA IN WARLAND

alisa 1Alisa in Warland, one of ten films nominated for the AWFJ EDA Award for Best Female-Directed Documentary at IDFA 2015, is a film in which the director discovered that she was also the lead character. Just out of film school, Alisa Kovalenko and Liubov Durakova set out to document the war in their homeland, embedding themselves with soldiers on the front in Eastern Ukraine. Read what Alisa Kovalenko has to say about their experiences as first time filmmakers working under truly extraordinary circumstances on THE FEMALE GAZE.

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