I don’t know what you were up to this past weekend – but I can pretty much guarantee it wasn’t as cool as the BB Dakota Women of Cinefamily Festival in LA. This is not just because awesome creatives like Rowan Blanchard and Brie Larson were present, or that it was in LA (I mean I’ve never been, but from movies and TV shows I’ve watched it definitely looks like the definition of cool), OR that there were limited-edition BB Dakota bomber jackets sold, but because it was an entire weekend dedicated to celebrating and supporting women in cinema.
Cinefamily is a nonprofit organization which holds community cinema events that support “interesting and unusual programs of exceptional, distinctive, weird and wonderful films”. Women of Cinefamily was created by Brie Larson (yes, the Room star and all-around chill-seeming, up-and-coming, down-to-earth, celebrity) and Alia Penner (yes, the all-around-trend-setting-artist, instagram-famous-designer-illustrator-photographer Alia_Pop_). The organization was created to cultivate a more supportive and inclusive future for women both on and off-screen.
This past weekend’s inaugural event was open to the public. It supported and celebrated women in the field of cinema. Whether that be actors, directors, producers, writers, etc. So why is this type of event so significant? Beyond helping to crush the extremely prominent gender-bias which still exists in Hollywood, important movies like the Hunting Ground found new exposure and support. The Hunting Ground, which was presented by Brie Larson, is a 2015 documentary about sexual assault on college campuses. The presentation was followed by a discussion with End Rape on Campus co-founders Annie Clark and Andrea Pino. We Believe You books, which is “a collection of survivors sharing their stories of trauma, healing, and everyday activism” were also sold at the event. Supporting films and initiatives like The Hunting Ground shows the world that you believe and stand with sexual assault survivors.
So what is this gender-bias that the Women of Cinefamily is helping to crush? The gender-bias in the field of cinema is not a new issue. An infographic produced by the New York Film Academy in 2012 began to more clearly articulate this issue, but women in Hollywood have faced adversity for as long as Hollywood has existed.
The New York Film Academy’s infographic was not first time major attention was brought to the inequalities women face in Hollywood, and it will definitely not be the last. You might remember Jennifer Lawrence’s viral response to the Sony hack that revealed she was paid significantly less than her male co-stars in American Hustle (despite her major role and Oscar-winning history!!!). Jennifer Lawrence’s wage-gap on American Hustle is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to cases of Hollywood wage-gap inequality.
How women are treated, and portrayed, in Hollywood significantly affects our society. Norms are often created, learned, and reinforced through the media we consume each and every day. According to a study in 2015, the average American will consume over 15 hours of traditional and nontraditional media a DAY. Yes, A DAY. This is more than you will talk to one single person, more time than you will spend reading a book, more time than listening to any one lecture – basically this is the largest source of education that we experience every single day. The importance cinema has on our society and the way our world functions is extremely significant and we need to look much closer at what these messages are actually saying.
Most likely, you we not at the BB Dakota Women of Cinefamily event in LA this weekend and instead, just like me, sitting on the couch eating cheetos – so what can you do from that non-LA location? A lot actually. Each and every day you have the opportunity to question the messages that you are consuming in those 15+ hours you potentially spend ingesting media. What type of television are you choosing to show your support for? What messages, and norms, are these creating in the world around us? What roles do you want to see women in? You can also support many of these initiatives directly. You can donate to Cinefamily here, support End Rape on Campus, buy the We Believe You book, and even attend an upcoming Women of Cinefamily event in LA (if this is your chosen option, could you maybe mail me an extra ticket? …)
Most of all, just remember poppers…. to to see change, share change, be change. Much love xo.