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Breaking Through The Lens, an initiative launched three years ago to promote emerging female directors, has unveiled the shortlist of projects vying to participate in the 3rd edition of its pitching platform set to take place during the Cannes Film Festival.

The selected projects, which will be pitched to over 100 financiers and key industry people during Cannes, were announced during the European Film Market on Feb. 25.

Spanning 13 countries, this year’s shortlist of 20 titles includes Tamika Guishard’s African dance-driven feature “Rhythm in Blues;” Daresha Kyi’s U.S. documentary “Mama Bears” which follows conservative Christian mothers whose lives are transformed as they accept their LGBTQ children; Ahd Kamel’s Saudi Arabian feature “My Driver and I” set in 80s and 90s and centering on an unlikely friendship between a privileged Saudi girl and her Nubian driver; and Laura Moss’ feature debut “Birth/Rebirth,” a female-driven Frankenstein adaptation.

Set to be announced in early April, the final list will be narrowed down to ten projects by a jury comprising Emma Berkofsky, the head of development at Lionsgate UK, Ursula Devine, development executive at Northern Ireland Screen, Akua Gyamf, the ounder of The British Blacklist, Daisy Hamilton, acquisitions and business development at TriCoast Worldwide, Kate Kinninmont, managing director of The F Word Media company, Nina Ritter, acquisition and development executive at Studiocanal in Berlin, Caddy Vanasirikul, VP of acquisitions and productions at The Exchange, Tiffany Boyle, the president of packaging and sales at Ramo Law, and Tina Gharavi, the BAFTA-nominated TV and film director.

“There’s clearly a disconnect happening in the industry when you look at the numbers of women coming out of film schools and the numbers of features being directed by women,” says Emily Carlton, who co-founded Breaking Through The Lens with fellow directors Daphne Schmon and Elpida Stathatou.

“As filmmakers ourselves, we found that the biggest obstacle was getting financing. When you’re in Cannes it can be very difficult to get meetings with some of the bigger financiers. It can be overwhelming,” said Carlton.

Last year’s edition of Breaking Through the Lens featured ten projects from 11 countries. Three of these projects have since entered production.

Schmon said the “gender imbalance at the top levels of our industry is evident now more than ever, with not a single woman nominated for Best Director at the BAFTA’s or Oscars.”

“The talent is definitely out there, along with lots of good will in the industry but at a certain point, talk is not enough,” said Schmon.

The Shortlisted Projects are :

“Algeria”
Director: Violeta Salama
Producer: Clara Nieto

“Alaska”
Director: Rachel Cain Stephens
Producer: Maria Allred

“Birth/Rebirth
Director: Laura Moss
Producer: Mali Elfman

“Chickenshit”
Director: Jessica dela Merced
Producer: Bob Shaye

“Dancing for Heaven”
Director: Billie Porter
Producer: Candice Dragonas

“Four Letters of Love”
Director: Polly Steele
Producer: Chris Curling

“Gillyfish”
Director: Sarah Sellman
Producer: Jon Shestack

“Jennifer, 42”
Director: Elle Kamihira
Producer: Katie Hyde

“Kodokushi”
Director: Janus Victoria
Producer: Lorna Tee

“Let’s Do This”
Director: Lora Campbell
Producer: Emily Andrews

“Lilly”
Director: Rachel Feldman
Producer: J Todd Harris

“Mamma Bears”
Director: Daresha Kyi
Producer: Yvonne Welbon

“Mouth”
Director: Kimi Lee
Producer: Isabel Marden

“Murder Fans”
Director: Nat Luurtsema
Producer: April Kelley

“My Driver And I”
Director: Ahd Kamel
Producer: Georgina Paget

“Rhythm in Blues”
Director: Tamika Guishard
Producer: Birgit Gernböck

“Skin of Youth”
Director: Ash Mayfair
Producer: Ngoc Tran

“The Other Widow”
Director: Ma’ayan Rypp
Producer: Amir Harel

“The Wild Ones”
Director: Eva Weber
Producer: Jessica Levick

“You And Me Both”
Director: Jennifer Suhr
Producer: Carolyn Mao

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