Change is coming, it may not be arriving on our doorsteps wrapped in a pretty box, but there are a number of women working collectively towards a simple goal -equality. A fantasy or fairy tale claim some might say, and the only response to those who wish to rain upon our parade – “oh ye of little faith.”
So, while we might be talking the talk, are we walking the walk? Hell yeah! And women are not simply taking baby steps towards changing an inherently male dominated world, they’re marching towards it with a fiery determination that strikes fear into the hearts of any and all who challenge them. Most notably is the rise of the female in film, the story that has been in the headlines constantly and sparked the ‘Me Too Movement’ has seen women throughout the corners of Hollywood rise-up and speak out against sexual harassment and the predators who believed they could get away with it. And then something extraordinary happened, a tide began to change and suddenly the swell was uplifting the feminine side of the industry and elevating them into a glowing spotlight where they were met by an audience of their peers, who had long craved relatable female characters and storylines.
This year the box office has hosted a mere 15 new studio releases from female directors and co-directors, but between those few titles, female-directed features pulled in a massive $1.2 billion take at the global box office. What do these stats tell us? That women don’t just make films, but they make films people want to see and flood into cinemas for. When you take a peep at the indie film circle, money-making women are also emerging in full force, including the similarly record-breaking Greta Gerwig, whose acclaimed “Lady Bird” became the best-ever limited opening for a feature film directed by a woman, and even more importantly Gerwig is hardly alone, as this year’s highest-grossing indies listinclude six titles from fellow female filmmakers, including established filmmakers like Kathryn Bigelow and Sofia Coppola, alongside rising stars like Ry Russo-Young and Niki Caro.
This trend doesn’t begin and end within the confines of Hollywood, in fact if you think back on the last local film you went to see, it’s more than likely there was a woman behind the scenes. In an industry dominated by men, it’s no secret that to break in you need to be pretty tough and rewrite the rule book, and if looking at the year so far, that’s exactly what female filmmakers in the South African film industry have been doing just that. From directors like Jayan Moodley’shugely popular family comedy Keeping Up With The Kandasamys which was created by a predominantly female crew, Zulu Weddingby Lineo Sekeleoane and award-winning director Jenna Bass’s all-female Western adventure film, Flatland, SA seems to be sprinting towards the front of the pack when it comes to female dominated film projects.
Award-winning producer BongiweSelane (Happiness is a Four-Letter Word) was quoted by Marie Clare magazine as saying, “Organisations and government have been taking steps to ensure a transformed and fair industry. There’s been progress with the establishment of initiatives intended to encourage and enable new voices in filmmaking, including the National Film and Video Foundation’s Female Only Filmmaker Project.” It appears that the only way is up for female film makers in South Africa.