As I get ready to make my departure from Toronto after a whirlwind week there are a couple of things to mention as the festival winds down.
First, even though there were a great many women directed films to see, it felt that there were significantly less women directors this year at the festival, especially not enough women directors being featured in high profile events. I was told by a couple that there are 10% less women directors this year. And my colleagues who program only women directors at their festivals felt that they had very little to see.
Last year there were big gala events for Mira Nair and Deepa Mehta and Shola Lynch. This year the only gala event for a woman director is Marion Vernoux’s Bright Days Ahead and it is at the end of the festival and it was one of the additions after the first big announcement. Again, there are 19 galas and only one is directed by a woman.
Anyone who is here knows that all the “important stuff” happens on the first weekend. The stars are here, the celebrity press is here and the industry is here. And then people leave. And while the lines are still long to get into the public screenings, the buzz just dissipates which is sad for the people who have films still to come. Being a programmer myself — granted on a much smaller scale — I know how hard it is to figure out what to put where, but if you do multiple galas and you only see male directors walk the red carpet it sends a message.
On top of that I have been tracking the deals and no female directed film has gotten picked up. I know that Amma Asante’s Belle came in with distribution from Fox Searchlight, but a bunch of male directed films like Jason Bateman’s directorial debut got picked up FAST. It is not that way for the women directors. I know for a fact that there are discussions and negotiations going on for women directed films but no one is beating down the doors with a $7 million offer.
I wanted to share with you the list of films I saw. I did see a couple of films directed by men about women and allowed myself to see the completely dude centric The Fifth Estate. (Note- I saw one film before the festival to prep, and 2 I watched in my room during the festival. And I have screeners for a couple of more like IDA which several people told me I must see but the timing never worked out for me. I look forward to continuiing to watch several more films in the coming days.)
Abuse of Weakness – Catherine Breillat
Enough Said – Nicole Holofcener
Exit Marrakech – Caroline Link
Bright Days Ahead- Marion Vernoux
Lucky Them – Megan Griffiths
Hateship/Loveship – Liza Johnson
Palo Alto – Gia Coppola
Finding Vivian Meier
For Those Who Can Tell No Tales- Jamila Zbanic
Half of the Yellow Sun
Night Moves – Kelly Reichardt
Something Necessary – Judy Kibinge
White Lies – Dana Rotberg
The Fifth Estate
August: Osage County
How a Song Can Save Your Life
Belle – Amma Assante
Stay- Wiebke von Carolsfeld
We still have a lot of interviews from the festival to come as well as more pieces on the films.
I hope you have enjoyed the “meet the directors” pieces. It is our goal to bring as many women’s voices to the fore at these events since there is so much noise and it is sometimes very hard for women to be seen.