San Diego Intl Film Festival & Women’s Museum of California Unite to support Women-Led Films
The San Diego International Film Festival has a mission to help women’s voices be heard, recognized, and respected. Film is ingrained in our society and has the potential, as we know, to share stories from different perspectives. Because of this, our culture is heavily influenced and educated bywhat we see on the big screen. The ability to awaken audiences into realities they’ve never known is truly a powerful vehicle for change. The San Diego Film Festival and The Women’s Museum of California have joined forces together in order to drive the movement for female directed movies to be featured on their platform. The collaborationof these two organizations has been extremely powerful in the movement to represent women in film. By promoting movies that exemplify strong, fierce and powerful women we are allowing other women and especially young girls to see themselves in a stronger light than what society too often projects.
A woman’s place in the film industry such as Hollywood is another pivotal arena where women desire to make their mark, especially in key behind the scene roles such as movie directors, writers, producers, and designers in this male dominate industry. Only 4.2% of the top grossing American films are made by female directors. It’s important that women have platforms to share and hear stories that are relatable to their experience. Everyone’s story matters and a story can only be told authentically from the true beholder of the experience. The progress being made of women directors being recognized and appreciated for their work is truly remarkable. It’s due to strong women never giving up and knowing their artistic worth that women directors and producers are being featured on multiple streaming platforms and festivals such as The San Diego International Film Festival.
Tonya Mantooth CEO & Artistic Director, Co-Founder of The San Diego Film Festival has made it a priority to feature women-led films during the festival season. Mantooth is a leader and activist towards the women’s movement, understanding the power of perspective and how a women’s point of view is valued in storytelling. She has made it a priority for women’s stories to be told and recognized. Mantooth emphasizes, “It’s an extraordinary time to be a woman filmmaker. In the last few years, I’ve seen a shift in the industry to include more women in decision-making positions. I think that is key to creating a fundamental change and not just a pendulum swing.
The festival is a women-lead team who each bring their own unique talents to The San Diego International Film Festival’s vision. A key aspect of their vision is investing in women filmmakers to encourage the growth of women being represented in leading roles in the film industry and shine a light on the gender gap within Hollywood. Collaborating with The Women’s Museum of California has been a successful union and has created equity for women in the industry. The recent Film Insiders Screening Serieshosted by The San Diego Film Festival in partnership with The Women’s Museum of California presented three female directed films out of four films featured at the 2023 FIS series.
Women’s activist, Sandra Maas is a veteran broadcast journalist, documentary filmmaker, board president of The Women’s Museum of California and advocate for women’s rights. Maas proudly states, “I’m very proud of my Emmy Award-winning video series Trailblazing Women, which shines the spotlight on women who are breaking barriers and changing the game for all women.” Maas stands for “be the light”. Maas is another leader and a pioneer in leading the movement toward social justice and equity for women. The Women’s Museum of California’s Executive Director Laura Mitchell, Ph.D. has worked in the nonprofit sphere for more than 30 years. In her role she brings a passion to educate present and future generations on the contributions of diverse women by collecting, preserving and interpreting their stories. Mitchell is a pioneer and activist in the movement of women storytellers, proudly stating, “The San Diego International Film Festival offers the best in women-forward film and ensures that women in film receive well-deserved recognition. The language of our era is visual. To be heard is also to be seen, notably on the big screen. I am grateful to the SDIFF for elevating women-led productions. The Women’s Museum of California is thrilled to continue its partnership with The San Diego International Film Festival for the festival’s Women’s Film Series.”
It’s impressive to note the 40 amazing years of dedication the museum has implemented toward women’s rights and everyone involved is excited for the growth that is to come. The Women’s Museum of California has been curating their own female led films for eight years and partnering with social platforms such as The San Diego Film Festival allows the movement to grow and continue to reach a wide range of audiences and broaden their message.
It’s important to note that the solution to the inclusion of women in the film industry resides in a film production actively committing to hiring women and other marginalized groups in a wide range of roles in the film industry. The San Diego Film Festival believes that the best solution is to actively promote the production of multi-cultural and female stories to drive diversity in all areas of production. We are currently seeing this effect with the iconic release of Barbie, directed by Greta Gerwig and produced and staring Margot Robby. Barbie has taken the box office by storm, earning more than $1.38 billion worldwide to become the highest grossing film in Warner Bros.’ 100-year history; the highest grossing film ever from a female filmmaker at the domestic box office; and is the largest worldwide film release of 2023.
The empathy built through this perspective of storytelling is truly transformative and such an accomplishment for women’s stories being told on the big screen. The contribution to The Film Insider Series made by talented female directors is crucial to the ongoing movement of women being included in the industry and heard by broad audiences.
Substantial progress is being made in the hiring of and the artistic creations produced by women in the film industry. It’s good to see that there are movies being made about women’s stories more than ever before. By being mindful of giving women and other minorities a seat at the table and to be hired in multiple positions, production studios are contributing to promoting inclusivity. Diversity in gender in the film industry is important as a mainstream vehicle for reflectingthe intersectionality of identities. Inequality poisons society as a whole, while equity and inclusion has the potential to benefit and educate everyone.