Women & Girls Matter: Media That Matters 11th Annual Festival

Women and Girls Matter At the Media That Matters 11th Annual Festival

October 29th, 2011

SOC DOC-School of Visual Arts (136 W, 21st St. NYC. 1st Floor)

Panel Descriptions

We have heard the unnerving statistics: In commercial film, only 7 percent of directors, 6 percent of directors of photography, and 20 percent of producers are female. Women fare slightly better in documentary, where they make up 28% of directors and 11% of directors of photography. Still, the figures are dismal.

Women and Girls Matter, a day of panels and workshops at the Media That Matters Film Festival, is designed to look at the obstacles and opportunities for women and girls in filmmaking and new media, highlight the values that we bring to our work, and open up a dialogue for ways to create new spaces for our voices in the field.

While the day focuses on the needs of women in film, we hope to conclude the day with concrete actions for participants to take to help bring the voices of women and girls out of the margins and into the mainstream.

Arts Engine is hoping in the next year to sponsor more events focusing on women & girls in film and new media. The dialogue generated at the event will help shape the direction of those activities.

9:30-11:00 a.m.

Opening Doors and Windows: Access and Gender in Documentary Filmmaking

The making of a successful documentary film depends on access to the film’s subject(s). This includes building a relationship of trust to establish intimate access, as well as having the ability to go everywhere your subject goes in order to have physical access.

To what extent does gender play a role in the ability to follow a subject? What are the obstacles and opportunities for female filmmakers in establishing access? How do these obstacles and opportunities shape choices, from choosing a topic through the logistical planning of shoots, crafting interview questions and capturing the most intimate moments? How does gender play a role in creating boundaries and in the relationship between the subject and the filmmaker?

Join established filmmakers as they share their personal experiences with the ways in which their gender has played a role in the creation of their films. The session will allow ample time for questions and dialogue.


Kirsten Johnson, Cinematographer: The Oath, Pray the Devil Back to Hell, Co-Director: Deadline

Yoruba Richen, Producer/Director: Promised Land

Lisa F. Jackson, Producer/Director: The Greatest Silence: Rape in the Congo, Sex Crimes Unit


Michelle Materre, Independent Media Consultant

11:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

Breaking and Entering:  A Young Women’s Guide to Starting a Career in Film

The younger generation has great access to audiences; filmmaking and editing technology is cheaper than ever and web-based distribution platforms are open to all. What is the current climate for young women and girls breaking into filmmaking? What resources are available, and what is lacking? Are roles behind the camera gendered?

Hear the story straight from girl media makers and their mentors. We’ll discuss opportunities for advancement as well as obstacles they faced and lessons learned along the way.


Youth Filmmaker from ReelWorks

Youth Filmmaker & Peer Mentor from Maysles Institute

Kadiatou Diallo, Media That Matters youth filmmaker, Producer/Director:  Isa’s Final Draft


Kathleen Sweeney, Professor of Transmedia Studies at The New School, author of Maiden USA: Girl Icons Come of Age


2:00-3:30 p.m.

Throwing Open the House: What Next for Women and Girls in Film and New Media?

Even as women have continued to make significant headway in other industries, the film business has remained a heavily male-dominated shop. Despite this reality, women filmmakers have not only persevered, but in recent years have been the driving force behind some of the industry’s most powerful feature and documentary films.

In what ways can female leadership impact gender norms in the film industry?  How are the values that women bring to the table informing not only what media we create but how we create it?  What can gatekeepers do to open doors and bring more women into the circle? What are the steps to engaging the interest and cultivating the talents of the next generation of girls?

Join a panel of changemakers as they evaluate the shifting landscape and explore solutions to breaking down more barriers for women and girls in filmmaking.


Beth Davenport, Women’s Institute Online Program Manager, Omega Institute for Holistic Studies

Mallika Dutt, President & CEO, Breakthrough

Aina Abiodun, Film Futurist; Founder, Aina Media, Inc.


Teresa Basilio, Director of Media In Action, Global Action Project

4:00-6:00 p.m.

Building a Community: A New Media Audience Engagement Workshop

New Media platforms have become essential for filmmakers to reach audiences and engender action.  Technology has the power to transform human behavior, shift culture, and shape institutions.

Join us as we watch Burning Barriers (Jasmine Fox, Matteo Mobilio, Laura Weisbord, and Brithney Williams), a youth-directed Media That Matters film about women firefighters. A facilitator will guide us through the New Media/Film landscape, sharing some extraordinary projects emerging at the intersection of these two worlds.

Small facilitated groups will have the opportunity to brainstorm their own New Media projects based Burning Barriers, each group planning a website, a game, a social media plan, or an online distribution strategy. Each group will also come up with a list of actions (new media or conventionally based) to take following the workshop to help promote the roles of women and girls in film.

No prior experience or technological skills are necessary.

Moderator: Judith Helfand, Chicken & Egg Pictures


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