Riding the wave of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, it’s not surprising that the 2018 Sundance Film Festival has a large focus on female filmmakers this year with the plan to instigate new discussions on how to make gender equality a reality in Hollywood.
One particularly relevant film premiering at Sundance this year is the documentary Half the Picture, directed by first-time feature filmmaker Amy Adrion. The film examines the shockingly low number of female directors working in film and TV using the current U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) investigation into discriminatory hiring practices as a framework to talk to successful women directors about their past experiences and their aspirations for the future. Women interviewed in the doc include Lena Dunham, Ava DuVernay, Gina Prince-Blythewood, Kimberly Peirce and Lucy Walker.
To celebrate this powerful film’s premiere, the Alliance of Women Directors partnered with WeScreenplay, whose Spring 2018 Diverse Voices Screenwriting Contest just opened for entries, to host a keynote and cocktail party event called Half the Picture: The Movement for Equality in Hollywood, on Sunday, January 21. Adrion, along with actress/director Jennifer Warren, the Chair of AWD, gave inspiring speeches to guests about working together and creating networks of support.
ScreenCraft’s Emily Dell, who is also an AWD board member, and John Rhodes (ScreenCraft co-founder) were in attendance, connecting filmmakers and directors at the event, discussing new ways to close the gender gap when it comes to finding scripts written by women.
The event’s sponsors included LUNA Bar, Chef Dance and the SAFE movement, who hosted the gathering at their first annual, weeklong “Safe Space” lounge venue that included funky furniture and a female deejay.
Yesterday, Adrion told the Los Angeles Times, “I hope our film can be one small step in kind of raising awareness among the people who do control the content we all see.”
The UCLA Film School alum added that she hopes, “Anyone who feels outside the Hollywood system [will] continue to feel fired up to tell their stories despite all the roadblocks and obstacles. I think we’re really feeling that at this moment – that all of these groups are feeling mobilized and gaining confidence, resisting and persevering to get to that next level. I think for a long time it’s been very discouraging and just the community among these different groups has helped people to remain motivated to tell their own stories.”
Half the Picture premieres today at Sundance. No word yet on distribution or a release date.
Photography by Ashly Covington.