FEMINIST FRIDAY: Female Maori Filmmakers Challenging Perceptions & Gabby Sidibe’s Directorial Debut

Welcome to another edition of Feminist Friday, y’all! This week, it’s all about female content creators and filmmakers, especially women of color. As we often say, if your feminism isn’t intersectional, then can it truly be called feminism? We’re all about championing the work of women in media and entertainment. What we see on screen has the ability to powerfully shape and impact our perspectives, which is what the following women are all doing.

First up, a new film out of New Zealand called ‘Waru’. It is a feature length film made up of 8 different shorter films, all linked by the story of the death of a young boy. It is being hailed as one of the most innovative films to come out of NZ, and the coolest thing about it is that it was directed by 9 different Maori women.

As outlined by Stuff.co.nz, the film has been well-received by audiences at home and also at the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival. ‘Waru’ producer Kerry Warkia says the project is centered around heartbreak and the desire to protect one’s family, as well as influence audiences in a specific way.

“It was created with a desire to challenge perceptions and to start conversations,” she said.

The nine women are Briar Grace-Smith (Charm), Casey Kaa (Anahera), Ainsley Gardiner (Mihi), Katie Wolfe (Em), Renae Maihi (Ranui), Chelsea Winstanley (Kiritapu), Paula Jones (Mere), Josephine Stewart-Te Whiu (Titty and Bash), and Awanui Simich-Pene (Titty and Bash). The film industry experience among the nine women is varied, but each of them had to adhere to the same set of rules for ‘Waru’: Each segment must have a female Maori lead and had to be shot in one, single 10-minute take, telling the story in real time. Directors were allowed only one day of shooting and each vignette had to take place at the same time: 10 am. You can watch the TIFF preview below:

The second video comes from one of our fave actresses Gabby Sidibe, known for her breakout role in ‘Precious’ and her badass performances in ‘Empire’ and ‘American Horror Story’. It’s not just on-screen where she is making waves, either. The actress is branching out into the directing world, and has debuted her first short film on Refinery29’s Shatterbox Anthology platform, which is all about promoting and championing the work of female directors.

The film is called ‘The Tale of Four’ and follows a day in the life of four black women, played by Aisha Hinds, R&B singer Ledisi, Dana Gourrier, and Megan Kimberly Smith. It explores their proximity to violence and the violence that is going on around them. Gabby told Slate’s Aisha Harris that she was mindful of being very sensitive when portraying issues such as rape, and even intimate sex scenes, so as not to be exploitative.

“No matter, even if it’s a love scene, you have to be really, really sensitive because these things can be … Not only can they be sort of embarrassing, it could also bring up a lot of your past…I don’t want anyone to walk away having a bad experience. I also approach directing the same way I would have approached the story as a viewer. I know what I want to see and what I don’t want to see and what I don’t need to see, and so I really try to be sensitive to that,” she said.

With so much critical attention being paid to the gratuitous way sexual violence and rape is treated in story lines, heck, even the reasons for it being included (‘Game Of Thrones’ has especially been under the spotlight in this discussion), it’s refreshing to see more women understanding the need to present rape and assault from a female gaze and leaving out the shock value. Watch Gabby’s ‘The Tale of Four’ below:

The final video comes from journalist and host Liz Plank (who goes by the awesome @Feministabulous handle on Twitter and Instagram) and her new series for Vox.com called ‘Divided States of Women‘. In an interview with Coveteur, Liz explains how the idea was borne out of the 2016 Presidential election (naturally), and more specifically, from the news that more than 50% of white women voted for Trump, a man who has openly boasted about sexual assault and various other sexist and demeaning behaviors that would be the death knell if, say, President Obama had done the same.

“As with many of us, I think, I was shocked by the results of the election. A lot of women of color probably weren’t shocked, but I was in that bubble where I believed—and, also, to a certain extent, Donald Trump himself believed—he wasn’t going to win. It revealed the diversity of perspectives when it comes to women and the divided nature of who we are living in America. The quote-unquote female vote was really striking and revealing,” she told Coveteur’s Emily Ramshaw.

She also revealed how there is a need to more deeply look at the complexities and and variety of perspectives of American women, who are by no means a monolithic group of voters as is something presented in news media. As a result, she wants to open up the conversation and be willing to cross over boundaries, rather than just appeal to an echo chamber.

“I realized [after the election that progressives are] only talking to each other. We thought we were talking to everybody, but clearly we weren’t. I can’t guarantee that conservative women or women that don’t like me are necessarily going to change their minds; the only thing I can do is not be judgmental and open up the platform to as many people as possible. This show isn’t about me—hopefully I’ll do a good job of making people feel comfortable having the conversation that they want to have and feel safe and respected.

The series covers topics such as sexual assault, the tampon tax, feminism, social media, and body image. Head on over to the ‘Divided States of Women’ website to learn more, and watch the trailer below:



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  1. Pingback: FEMINIST FRIDAY: "Fearless AF" Women In New Adidas Film & Feminist Nuns In "Novitiate" - GirlTalkHQ

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