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Jill Soloway to AFI’s Directing Workshop for Women: ‘Storm the Gates’ of Hollywood

“Transparent” creator Jill Soloway delivered the keynote address to the students of AFI’s Directing Workshop for Women’s 2015 Showcase Thursday night at the Directors Guild of America.

Soloway began her remarks to the filmmakers and their guests by praising the recent action taken by the ACLU in support of female directors. “Guys, it’s an amazing time for women right now!” Soloway said. “ACLU thing! Let’s sue Hollywood! Sue ‘em all! Sue those mothaf—as!”

The rest of her speech was similarly empowering and expletive-laden. She encouraged the filmmakers to embrace their gender as they go forward. “I came into most of my power as a filmmaker when I realized that all I needed to do was make a safe space for people to have feelings,” she said. “And that is feminine energy…Rub your f—ed-up-ness all over your scripts. Add some shame and some embarrassment. Rub your shame all over your script and then dare yourself to shoot it. Seriously.”

“Instead of waiting for the industry to change or waiting for the guys to change, instead storm the gates, grab hands with each other, run like Red Rover to those lifeguard chairs,” Soloway went on. “Snarl at the bases of those watchtowers like starving beast dogs. Snarl like wild lady-dogs. Wrestle the male directors out of the chairs, then put the chair back up and sit in it.”

Soloway ended her impassioned speech with a few well-placed jabs at the industry. “I do want to remind people that gender parity is not, like, 50/50. Gender parity would mean that for the next 100 years, women direct 95% of the movies. And then in year 101, we go to 50/50. That would be gender parity. But the only way things are really going to change is when we’re all wilder and louder and riskier and sillier and unexpectedly overflowing with surprise. And soon, what everybody is going to say is, ‘We have to find a woman director to make this. Because women are just so much f—ing better at it.’”

After Soloway brought the house down, the eight short films by the DWW’s class of 2014 screened: “Election Night,” directed by Tessa Blake; “Tortoise,” directed by Jean Lee; “Share,” directed by Pippa Bianco; “Ma/ddy,” directed by Devon Kirkpatrick; “Up Here,” directed by Kantu Lentz; “The Haircut,” directed by Alexis O. Korycinski; “Rita Mahtoubian Is Not a Terrorist,” directed by Roja Gashtili and Julia Lerman; and “Zelos,” directed by Thoranna Sigurdardottir.

Before the proceedings, a handful of the women in the workshop shared their opinions regarding the importance of events such as these.

“The only way we can change the status is by changing the awareness,” Blake said. “And that’s why celebrating female filmmakers is the way to go.”

Blake’s sentiments were shared by her classmates.

Devon Kirkpatrick: There’s a spectrum of stories that can be told from female points of view, and they don’t all fit into one female box,” said Kirkpatrick, whose “Ma/ddy” followed a genderqueer widow carrying her dead wife’s baby. “They can be kid stories, male point of view, female point of view, transgender point of view, gender queer point of view — there are many different ways to be female, so let the spectrum be shown.”

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