Bentonville Film Fest Women-on-the-Street, Part Two — Betsy Bozdech reports

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BFF_Logo_Transparent2017_Scaled_100At the Bentonville Film Festival, female filmmakers find themselves surrounded by mentors, peers, and filmgoers who celebrate women’s creativity and success in every aspect of the entertainment world. Attracting women at every career level, the annual event encourages diversity and inclusion both in front of and behind the camera, and provides the ideal ambiance for taking a feminist pulse on the industry by collecting comments on topics of importance. AWFJ’s three-part BFF Woman-on-the-Street series does just that. We caught up with 2017 attendees (including festival founder Geena Davis) to gather their thoughts on key issues of concern to women in film. The first and most pressing question was about the current challenges they face in getting their work funded, produced, and recognized. Now we ask them what woman (or group of women) in history should have her story told on screen, but hasn’t yet? Read on…

“There probably are thousands upon thousands of women and groups of women that haven’t had their stories told yet. … It’s in every possible facet of life, in every sphere, women who actually fought during the Civil War and female fighter pilots, and we don’t know their stories. And think about all the women in history who’ve been incredible painters or composers or poets, and because they were women, nobody shined a light on what they were doing, and we’ve lost all of that talent, the centuries. It’s tragic, if you think about it. The centuries of talent that we’ve lost because people haven’t paid attention to women’s contributions. So it’s deep and profound, the amount that we don’t know about women’s accomplishments.” — Geena Davis

“I don’t know that Mary Pickford’s story has ever been told. She was remarkable. And actually a lot of women at the beginning of our history, in terms of filmmaking, the early 1900s. … Mary Pickford was a grown woman playing a young girl. She was a writer, she was an editor, she was a director — she was incredible.” — Nancy Cartwright, co-writer, In Search of Fellini

“I love the flappers because they were the original kind of riot girls. So I’m very, very intrigued and would absolutely watch them. … My daughter just did a report on Gloria Steinem, and I would love to see that whole era, when Civil Rights and feminism came together.” — Brooke Purdy, writer, co-director, co-star, Quality Problems

“I’m originally from Ghana, and one of Ghana’s first ladies completely revolutionized women in Ghana. Women used to stay at home, ‘my husband brings the money, I do not have to have the skill.’ But right now, women in Ghana — every woman, whether they’re a housewife or not, they have the skill. And that is what she was able to do.” — Leila Djansi, writer/director, Like Cotton Twines

“Now our idea is really that the next project involves again a woman that has not been recognized. Maybe not even just one woman, we’re even thinking sort of three or four and combine them in a film because it’s history, so ‘his story,’ so usually told by a man. And that’s sort of where the women fall by the wayside.” — Zeva Oelbaum, co-director, Letters from Baghdad

“It’s an epidemic of women who are not mentioned in history.” — Sabine Krayenbuh, co-director, Letters from Baghdad

“[We’re] working on a documentary about about these Filipino-Americans who have quietly shaped American music. And no one really knows about it. And there have been women in this scene … [from] predominantly male-centered DJ crews. They were with conservative Catholic parents, wouldn’t be let out of the house but wanted to express themselves to music. And then they managed, because their brothers or cousins were in this scene, to come out in the scene and actually create amazing music.” — Marie Jamora, writer/director, Flip the Record

“My film focuses on the Gwich’in people who live in northern Canada and northern U.S. .., I’d meet girls who have never seen, ever seen a female lead who’s First Nations. And I think that is horrible, so I think that for sure. And I’m sure every country in the world has has First Nations.” — Kirsten Carthew, writer/director, The Sun at Midnight

Read Bentonville Film Fest Women-on-the-Street, Part One

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Betsy Bozdech

Betsy Bozdech is the Executive Editor of Common Sense, for which she also reviews films. Her film reviews and commentaries also appear on and