×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Dee Rees, Geena Davis Tackle Female, Minority Inclusion on Screen

Director-writer Dee Rees, whose period piece “Mudbound” hits Netflix on Nov. 17, has had to fight for all of her projects to be made and financed.

Speaking at the Women in Entertainment Summit on Wednesday, Rees shared her journey to making her first films “Pariah” in 2011 to “Bessie” in 2015 to now, describing how along the way, she made sure to hire women and expand the pipeline of female and minority filmmakers.

“Pariah,” which began as a film-school thesis, screened as a short film in 2007 and later became a feature-length movie executive produced by Spike Lee. But the road from short film to feature was long and arduous.

“It was still a beast to get it financed,” Rees said. “Nobody wanted to do a lesbian coming-of-age back then.”

The film was semi-autobiographical, loosely based on Rees’ experience coming out as lesbian. The movie, which was received well critically, would be the springboard for her and her filmmaking team. “We all made our way off of ‘Pariah,’” she said.

Thursday’s Women in Entertainment Summit came at a moment when the industry is reeling and assessing how to move forward after being rocked by a still-growing list of sexual harassment and assault scandals.

Gretchen McCourt, co-founder of the summit, made brief mention of the current climate, but the program very quickly unfolded with no further thought to all the allegations of sexual misconduct.

Actress Geena Davis delivered the morning keynote, giving a rundown of the state of female and minority representation on screen. Founder of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, she shared the conclusions of her organization’s research.

“There are not only far fewer female characters, only 29% in films studied, you’re not seeing them or hearing them as much as male characters, either,” she said.

Using data and deliberate inclusive storytelling, Davis shared her own experience during the making of “Stuart Little” in 1999. In the filming of the boat-race scene, all of the kids holding remote controls to their boats were boys, which Davis noticed. She then proposed making half of the kids girls, which mortified the filmmaker who followed her advice.

“If you don’t put it in a script, it is not happening,” Davis said.

She remained upbeat that with data analysis and inclusive practices, the tide can turn for women and minorities. “Media can be the cure for the problem it’s creating,” Davis said. “I feel very confident in predicting that the percentage of female characters will change dramatically within the next 10 years.”

More Film

  • Ventana Sur: 10 or So Takes

    Ventana Sur: Drilling Down on This Year’s Edition

    BUENOS AIRES —  11 takes on the biggest Ventana Sur yet, in initiatives and initial business announcements: 1.CANNES’ MOST DARING MOVE? Over the last decade, film festivals two biggest growth roadmaps have run through strengthening their industry heft, aiding an ever more challenged independent film business, and to morph into all-year-round structures. The Cannes Festival [...]

  • Ian Schrager Ian Schrager, New York,

    Studio 54 Co-Creator Ian Schrager Wants to 'Set the Record Straight'

    In the 1970s, Studio 54 was the epicenter of New York nightlife. With wildly theatrical sets, a guest list of celebs, and jet-setters that included everyone from Andy Warhol to Grace Jones, and a pulsating disco beat, the nightclub helped define the Me Decade. But its reign was short lived. In 1980, founders Steve Rubell [...]

  • 'The Favourite,' 'Black Panther' Lead Critics'

    'The Favourite,' 'Black Panther,' 'First Man' Lead Critics' Choice Movie Nominations

    Fox Searchlight’s “The Favourite,” directed by rising art-house star Yorgos Lanthimos, led the field of film nominees for the 24th annual Critics’ Choice Awards, the Broadcast Film Critics Assn. announced Monday. The period comedy, a biting send-up of the court of Queen Anne, received 14 nominations including best picture, director, actress (Olivia Colman), supporting actress [...]

  • Blood Window, BIFFF Partner On TV

    Blood Window, Brussels International Fantastic Film Fest Partner on TV Initiative

    Argentina’s Ventana Sur, certainly one of Latin America’s most important meet-marts, announced today that its Blood Window sidebar will collaborate with INCAA – the country’s national film-TV body, which co-runs Ventana Sur with Cannes – and the Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival (BIFFF) on the B2 Genre TV project, the first such program aimed at [...]

  • Film Factory Boards Andrés Wood’s Fox-Distributed

    Film Factory Boards Andres Wood’s Fox-Distributed ‘Arana’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    BUENOS AIRES — Vicente Canales’ Film Factory Entertainment has boarded “Araña,” directed by one of Chile’s foremost filmmakers, Andrés Wood, and distributed in North and Latin America by 20th Century Fox. Produced by Alejandra García at Santiago de Chile’s Wood Producciones, “Araña” is co-produced by Brazil’s BossaNovaFilms and Argentina’s Magma Cine, two of Southern America’s [...]

  • Tim Roth, Thierry Fremaux and Gaspar

    Tim Roth, Gaspar Noe Join Thierry Fremaux at Cannes Festival Cinema Week

    BUENOS AIRES — Kicking off with the Cannes Festival’s Palme d’Or winner, Hirokazu Kor-eda’s “Shoplifters,” and framing  multiple Cannes winners, the 10th Cannes Festival Cinema Week will feature a masterclass by Tim Roth, before a projection of “Reservoir Dogs,” and a presentation by Gaspar Noé of his Directors’ Fortnight hit “Climax.” Curated and M.C-ed by [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content