BACKGROUND & CONTEXT
Gender imbalance and stereotyping in cinema have received critical attention over the recent past. UNESCO’s 2018 Global Report “Re-Shaping Cultural Policies” states that women are under-represented in key creative roles, work mainly in certain cultural fields, are more likely to work part-time. They are also severely outnumbered in decision-making positions and have less access to funding and face substantial gender pay gaps.The film industry is arguably the highest profile of all the creative industries, with considerable impact on cultural, social as well as economic spheres. Film is also a powerful medium that in many ways both reflect and shapes society and culture.
Sexism permeates the industry with women assigned certain roles and responsibilities that perpetuate gender stereo types. Many women report of sexual harassment at the workspace. Internationally, one in five films in the seven European countries studied in the UNESCO Global Report is directed by a woman (21%). This means four out of five films are NOT directed by a woman.
Diversity and gender-parity are crucial to the filmmaking process if cinema is to reflect experiences and perspectives of various groups in society. Given that women compose half of population and the inherent importance and relevance of women’s issues in global development, female directors would project female perspectives more strongly in films. In Kenya women filmmakers have excelled and given a good account of themselves treating their stories with the sensitivity their unique perspective gives them. These female filmmakers have won acclaim and financing from major international film festivals such as Amsterdam (IDFA), Rotterdam (IFFR), and Copenhagen (CPH: DOX) and most have screened their films globally. Yet, so far there has been little or no research and documentation on their achievement, the space where they operate and how they have impacted filmmaking.
” We must create a world where a woman is as likely as a man to be a film maker. We must create a world where watching films written by women and directed by women and produced by women is completely ordinary and mainstream.” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
“Whenever you have an art form, it is so important that that medium represent all people. Women make up about 50% of our population, so to not have a diverse female voice making films, you’re not going to get an accurate depiction of how life is lived.” – Anu Valia, writer/director
What mechanisms should be put in place within film governing bodies, the Ministry of Sports, Culture and Heritage and within devolved government units to stimulate production of competitive local content by local producers and women.
The General objective of the conference is to facilitate and stimulate discussions on enabling structures, systems and policies to speed up growth and development of the film industry in Kenya.
The Specific Objective is to enable women film makers to reflect on the performance of women in film both in Kenya and Eastern Africa with specific assessment of factors influencing their overall achievements.
We need to learn lessons from these achievements to enable the entire sector to reflect for greater posterity of the Africa film industry in general and the need for improved equity in the sector. Of interest are the following key questions:
- What is the status of Kenya female film makers – their achievements, constraints and threats to their participation – within Kenya, in the region and globally?
- Are there cultural dimensions to challenges faced by women film makers in Kenya?
- Are women ‘welcomed’ into the film world? Are sexual harassment and sexism significant deterrent to women participation and leadership in the film industry?
- Is limited access to capital among women filmmaker a specific gender dimension or a challenge based by both genders equally?
- How do we see funding ecosystems for films and local content?
- How do we stimulate funding mechanism to Kenya film industry in general and to women producers in particular?
We expect the following outcomes from the Women in Film conference to:
- Understand the status of the role and position of women in film industry in Kenya.
- Raise the visibility of women film makers and contribute to the conversation about gender parity in the entertainment industry.
- Inspire new ideas, and a plan for future collaborations, building (women friendly) film making community, creating spaces for mentorship, peer networking and direct participation in film making.
- Identify ways to support and promote the work of women filmmakers to a wider audience.
- Enhance outreach efforts- decision makers to connect with women directors and bring more films directed by women to the screen.