14 items from 2017
Women and Hollywood is honored to share the recipients of the Trailblazer Awards, which will be given out during our upcoming 10th Anniversary events in New York and Los Angeles.
The New York Trailblazer Awardees are directors Amma Asante (“Belle,” “Where Hands Touch”), Julie Dash (“Daughters of the Dust,” “Queen Sugar”), and Julie Taymor (“The Lion King,” “Frida”) as well as producer and GameChanger Films president Mynette Louie and HBO Documentary Films president Sheila Nevins. They will be honored October 17 at the Time Warner Center in NYC.
Our Los Angeles Trailblazers include directors Patty Jenkins (“Wonder Woman,” “Monster”), Haifaa al-Mansour (“Wadjda,” “Mary Shelley”), and Angela Robinson (“Professor Marston and the Wonder Women,” “D.E.B.S.”). Director Leah Meyerhoff (“I Believe in Unicorns”) is being honored for founding Film Fatales. Other honorees include the Aclu; Melissa Goodman, Audrey Irmas director of the Lgbtq, Gender and Reproductive Justice Project at Aclu of SoCal, and Lenora Lapidus, Director of the Women’s Rights Project at the Aclu, will be accepting. And the founder of the Media, Diversity, & Social Change Initiative, Dr. Stacy L. Smith, will also be recognized. They will receive their awards on October 25 at the ArcLight Theatre in Hollywood.
These are women who through their work, their voice, and/or their activism have been a part of raising the level of conversation on gender equality, stepping up the advocacy drumbeat, and paving the way for their female peers and colleagues.
To find out more about the Trailblazers, check out their bios below. And, remember, tickets are still available for our anniversary events in NY on October 17 and in La on October 25.
Amma Asante, MBE is a multi-award winning writer and director who won a BAFTA for her first film, A Way of Life. This made Asante the first Black female director to win a BAFTA Film Award for writing and directing a film. Her next film, Belle, drew widespread critical acclaim, and saw Asante named one of CNN’s Leading Women of 2014, as well as being named by Variety as one of their 10 Directors to watch. In 2016, her film A United Kingdom was released and its European Premiere saw Asante celebrated as the first Black female director to open the BFI London Film Festival in its 60-year history. This year Asante was named an MBE by Queen Elizabeth on the 2017 Birthday Honour’s list, for services to film as a writer and director. Asante is currently in post-production on her next film, Where Hands Touch. The film, inspired by historical events, is set in 1944 Germany and follows the plight of a young girl of color attempting to survive under Nazi rule.
Twenty-six years ago, filmmaker Julie Dash broke through racial and gender boundaries with her Sundance award-winning film (Best Cinematography) Daughters of the Dust, and she became the first African American woman to have a wide theatrical release of her feature film. In 2004, The Library of Congress placed Daughters of the Dust in the National Film Registry where it joins a select group of American films preserved and protected as national treasures by the Librarian of Congress. Dash is the only African American woman with a feature film that has been inducted into the National Film Registry. She is the recent recipient of the New York Film Critics Special Award, the 2017 Robert Smalls Merit and Achievement Award, and the Visionary Award from Women in Film, Washington, D.C. Dash is currently a Distinguished Professor of Art at Spelman College. She recently directed multiple episodes of the award-winning dramatic series, Queen Sugar, Season 2, created and produced by Ava DuVernay and Oprah Winfrey, for Own Television.
Mynette Louie is a New York-based film producer and the president of Gamechanger Films, the first equity fund to exclusively finance narrative features directed by women. Gamechanger’s films include Natalia Garagiola’s Hunting Season (Venice Critics’ Week 2017), Lauren Wolkstein & Christopher Radcliff’s The Strange Ones (SXSW 2017), Sarah Adina Smith’s Buster’s Mal Heart (Tiff 2016), and So Yong Kim’s Lovesong (Sundance 2016, 2017 Independent Spirit Award nominee), among others. Louie won the 2013 Independent Spirit Piaget Producers Award and was named one of Ted Hope’s “21 Brave Thinkers of Truly Free Film” and one of Indiewire’s “100 Filmmakers to Follow on Twitter.” She is on the Board of Directors of Film Independent and serves as an advisor to the Sundance Institute, SXSW, Ifp, and A3 Asian American Artists Foundation.
Credit: Brigitte Lacombe
Sheila Nevins is president, HBO Documentary Films, responsible for overseeing the development and production of all documentaries for HBO, HBO2, and Cinemax. As an executive producer or producer, she has received 32 Primetime Emmy Awards, 34 News and Documentary Emmys, and 42 George Foster Peabody Awards. During her tenure, HBO’s critically acclaimed documentaries have gone on to win 26 Academy Awards, the most recent of which was A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness in 2016. Nevins has been honored with several prestigious career achievement awards including, most recently, the 2009 Governors Award from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. She has supervised the production of more than 1,000 documentary programs for HBO. Nevins is the bestselling author of You Don’t Look Your Age… and Other Fairy Tales, published by Flatiron Books.
Credit: Marco Grob
Julie Taymor became the first woman to win the Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical, and won a Tony for Best Costumes, for her landmark production of The Lion King. The Lion King has gone on to become the most successful stage musical of all time: 24 global productions have been seen by more than 90 million people. Her credits also include Broadway’s Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, The Green Bird, and Juan Darien: A Carnival Mass (five Tony nominations). She directed the play Grounded, and completed a cinematic version of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, filmed during the production at Theatre for a New Audience in Brooklyn. Film credits include Titus, Frida, Across the Universe, and The Tempest. Operas include Oedipus Rex, The Flying Dutchman, Salome, The Magic Flute, and Grendel, composed by Elliot Goldenthal. Taymor is a recipient of the 1991 MacArthur Genius Award and a 2015 inductee into the Theater Hall of Fame for Lifetime Achievement. She is currently in rehearsals for a revival of M Butterfly starring Clive Owen on Broadway.
Melissa Goodman conducts legal and policy advocacy concerning Lgbtq rights, reproductive rights, gender equality, and the rights of people with HIV. Goodman leads the Aclu SoCal’s advocacy to end discrimination against women directors and increase inclusive hiring in Hollywood, to protect the rights of transgender students and adults, to expand access to quality and confidential reproductive healthcare, to increase protections for working parents, to end bias and over-policing and over-incarceration of Lgbtq people, and to improve healthcare for incarcerated women.
Lenora Lapidus litigates gender discrimination cases in courts throughout the country, engages in public policy advocacy, and speaks on gender equity issues in the media and to the public. Her work focuses on economic justice, educational equity, ending gender-based violence, and women in the criminal justice system. Along with Melissa Goodman of the Aclu of Southern CA, she urged the Eeoc to investigate the low number of women hired by studios to be directors for film and television. Lapidus has received several fellowships and awards, including 21 Leaders for the 21st Century from Women’s eNews and the Wasserstein Fellowship for outstanding public interest lawyers from Harvard Law School.
Credit: Warner Bros.
Patty Jenkins is a writer and director best known for directing Warner Bros. and DC Comics’ Wonder Woman, her debut feature Monster, based on the life of convicted serial killer Aileen Wuornos, and helming the pilot episode of AMC’s hit show The Killing. Monster was named by AFI as one of its Ten Best Films of the Year. Jenkins garnered a number of awards and nominations, including winning Best First Feature at the 2004 Independent Spirit Awards. She went on to direct many commercials and TV programs including the pilot and finale episode for AMC’s The Killing, for which she received an Emmy nomination, and won the DGA award for best dramatic directing. Jenkins directed several other pilots and episodes including Fox’s Arrested Development and HBO’s Entourage. She was nominated for an Emmy for a segment of Lifetime’s Five, an anthology about breast cancer.
In 2017, Jenkins broke the record for biggest grossing live-action film directed by a woman, domestic and worldwide, with Wonder Woman. The film simultaneously smashed box office records and received critical acclaim and it has grossed a worldwide total of more than $820 million to date.
Haifaa al-Mansour is the first female filmmaker in Saudi Arabia and is regarded as one of its most significant cinematic figures. She studied comparative literature at the American University in Cairo and completed a Master’s degree in Film Studies from the University of Sydney. The success of her 2005 documentary Women Without Shadows influenced a new wave of Saudi filmmakers and made the issue of opening cinemas in the Kingdom front-page news. At home, her work is both praised and vilified for encouraging discussion on taboo issues and for penetrating the wall of silence surrounding the sequestered lives of Saudi women. Wadjda, al-Mansour’s feature debut, is the first feature film shot entirely in Saudi Arabia and the first by a female director. The film received wide critical acclaim after its premiere at the 2012 Venice Film Festival and established al-Mansour as an important talent emerging from the Arab World. She recently published a novelization of the film titled The Green Bicycle for Penguin publishing group. Her latest film, Mary Shelley, starring Elle Fanning and based on the life of Frankenstein author Mary Shelley, recently premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Leah Meyerhoff is an award-winning filmmaker whose debut narrative feature film I Believe in Unicorns was released theatrically in 2015 after premiering at SXSW, winning the Grand Jury Prize at the Atlanta Film Festival and additional awards from Woodstock Film Festival, Nashville Film Festival, First Time Fest, Tribeca Film Institute, Ifp, Nyu, and the Adrienne Shelly Foundation. Meyerhoff is also the founder of Film Fatales, a female filmmaker organization based in New York with dozens of local chapters around the world. Film Fatales is a global community of women feature film and television directors who meet regularly to mentor each other, share resources, collaborate on projects, and build a supportive environment in which to get their films made and seen. Founded in 2013, Film Fatales actively supports over 500 women directors in New York and Los Angeles, and hundreds more in a dozen sister cities across Europe, North America, Australia, and Africa.
Angela Robinson is a filmmaker who explores and exposes the breadth and complexity of humanity in an extensive body of work across both film and television. Filtering her storytelling through the multi-faceted prism of identity, Robinson uses the power of her unique voice to intelligently and empathetically bring compelling, intersectional stories — specifically those of women, people of color, and Lgbtq individuals — to the mainstream in a way that is entertaining, emotional, and thought-provoking. Most recently, Robinson wrote and directed Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, the origin story behind one of the world’s most famous superheroes, Wonder Woman.
Moving fluidly between film and television, Robinson has an overall deal with ABC Television Studios and recently served as a Consulting Producer on ABC’s hit series “How to Get Away with Murder.” She is in development on a series exploring the intersecting lives of Golden Age stars Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich.
Stacy L. Smith, Ph.D.
Stacy L. Smith is the Founder and Director of the Media, Diversity, & Social Change Initiative, the leading think tank globally studying issues of inequality in entertainment. Mdsc research focuses on inclusion in film, television, and digital media and all facets of the music industry. Dr. Smith has written over 100 journal articles, book chapters, and reports on media content patterns and effects. She was the principal investigator of the Card report, examining Hollywood’s hiring practices on screen, behind the camera, and in the executive ranks across the major media companies and digital distribution platforms. Dr. Smith speaks routinely on issues of inequality. She has given a Ted Talk and spoken at the United Nations, the White House, Sundance Film Festival, Promax, and Lunafest. Dr. Smith’s work was the basis for the EPiX docuseries, 4%: Film’s Gender Problem.
Women and Hollywood Announces 10th Anniversary Trailblazer Award Winners was originally published in Women and Hollywood on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story. »
- Women and Hollywood
Charities & foundations supported
Jon Hamm has supported the following charities:
Adrienne Shelly FoundationAlzheimer's AssociationArtists for Peace and JusticeCancer Research InstituteCommunities in SchoolsDonorsChoose.orgEntertainment Industry FoundationGlobal FundMelanoma Research AllianceMotion Picture and Television Fund FoundationMoveOnRacing for Kids(Red)Stand Up For GusStand Up To CancerSt. Jude Children's Research HospitalVine Group Read more about Jon Hamm's charity work and events. Related articles Celebrities Take A Gamble On CharityKeanu Reeves To Race For CharityBid On Dinner With Your Favorite CelebsStars Join Elephant Project Auction For Alzheimer'sSAG Foundation Launches Online Celebrity Charity Auction
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- Rebecca Rubin
This week The Perfect Murder examines the apparent suicide of actress and director Adrienne Shelly that turned out to be murder. Shelly had various acting roles in independent movies like The Unbelievable Truth and Trust, before going on to win various post-humous awards for the film Waitress in 2007. She was married to Andy Ostroy and had a daughter with him, who was two at the time of her death. On November 1, 2006, Shelly was found hanging in the West Village apartment she used as an office. She was hanging over the bath with a bed sheet tied around...read more »
- James Wray
The 37-year-old composer, who wrote the score for the hit Broadway musical, is dating actor Joe Tippett — one of the show’s current stars.
Both have made numerous public appearances together over the past few months, including the opening night for The New Group’s play All the Fine Boys in March and People and EW’s Upfronts Party in April.
They also attended Sunday’s 2017 Tony Awards together, where they looked adorable while posing on the red carpet. He even gave Bareilles a sweet kiss on the cheek at »
- Dave Quinn
Looking back on this still-young century makes clear that 2007 was a major time for cinematic happenings — and, on the basis of this retrospective, one we’re not quite through with ten years on. One’s mind might quickly flash to a few big titles that will be represented, but it is the plurality of both festival and theatrical premieres that truly surprises: late works from old masters, debuts from filmmakers who’ve since become some of our most-respected artists, and mid-career turning points that didn’t necessarily announce themselves as such at the time. Join us as an assembled team, many of whom were coming of age that year, takes on their favorites.
Waitress begins with three women in a bathroom. Jenna (Keri Russell), Dawn (Adrienne Shelly), and Becky (Cheryl Hines) are huddled around Jenna’s pregnancy test in their diner uniforms, praying for a negative result. Jenna hates her husband, »
- The Film Stage
By Spencer Coile
Jenna (Keri Russell) knows pies. Caught in a dead-end marriage to an emotionally and physically abusive husband, Jenna dreams of the day she can finally save up enough money working in the local pie shop and escape her boring life... that is, until she finds herself pregnant. Giving insight into Jenna's mind through the use of potential pie recipes, Waitress follows Jenna as she (begrudgingly) agrees to have the baby, keeps working, and begins an affair with her new doctor (Nathan Fillion).
Indeed, Adrienne Shelly's 2007 film--released ten years ago to the day--was lauded for its down-to-earth nature, its humble storytelling, and the central performance from Keri Russell. There are no tricks up Shelly's sleeve here; she managed to tell a simple, heartfelt story that is imbued with messages of strength, female friendships, and the power of a good pie. What makes the film equally as affecting is the fact that, »
- Spencer Coile
Michelle Byrd: Byrd’s Twitter account
Former Independent Filmmaker Project (Ifp) Executive Director Michelle Byrd has been named as the Managing Director of PGA East, ScreenDaily reports. She’ll oversee operations from the New York office and report to PGA National Executive Director/COO Vance Van Petten and PGA Associate National Executive Director/COO Susan Spring, both of whom are La-based.
Byrd has more than 15 years of experience supporting prominent nonprofit media organizations. She most recently ran Run It By Byrd, her own consulting practice. Since launching in 2013, Run It By Byrd has provided services to Ghetto Film School, Green Beetz, and Museum Of The Moving Image. Byrd is perhaps best known for serving as Executive Director for Ifp from 1997 to 2009. She “helped to establish programming and partnerships, including a collaboration with the United Nations, and re-positioned Ifp’s Gotham Awards into awards season,” ScreenDaily writes. Her employment history also includes serving as Co-President of Games for Change, a role she held from 2010 to 2013. The org is dedicated to creating and distributing games with a social impact.
In 2010 Byrd received Chicken & Egg Picture’s Good Egg Award for Distinguished Leadership. She’s also been honored with the “Made in New York Award” from NYC’s Mayor. Byrd sits on the Board of the Adrienne Shelly Foundation, which supports female filmmakers. She will start her new role May 8.
- Laura Berger
The Producers Guild of America’s (PGA) National Board of Directors has announced today the hiring of Michelle Byrd as Managing Director, PGA East, a newly created position within the guild. Byrd was appointed after an extensive search led by PGA East Chairs William Horberg and Kay Rothman, and with the support of PGA Presidents Gary Lucchesi and Lori McCreary, PGA National Executive Director/COO Vance Van Petten, and PGA Associate National Executive Director/COO Susan Sprung.
She will oversee east coast operations from the PGA’s New York office.
Byrd’s experience in the industry is extensive. Prior to her new position at the PGA, she worked in the non-profit media organization space, and has been involved with orgs serving film, digital, and games. She served 12 years (1997-2009) as Executive Director of the Independent Filmmaker Project, during which she collaborated with the United Nations and re-positioned Ifp’s signature »
- Kate Erbland
“My first introduction into music was theater cast albums,” Bareilles tells People, during a sit-down in New York City. “Miss Saigon, Les Misérables, The Secret Garden, Little Shop of Horrors, Chess — you name it, I was all about it.”
She had a chance to write her very own theater cast album with Waitress — the hit 2016 musical she composed about a waitress in a small town who enters a pie contest »
- Dave Quinn
Sara Bareilles will make her Broadway acting debut next week — joining the cast of Waitress, the hit 2016 musical whose score she composed — and People has the exclusive first look at the 37-year-old singer in rehearsal.
The “Brave” songstress will step into the lead role of pregnant pie-maker Jenna Hunterson for a limited 10-week run at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre.
The role was made famous by Keri Russell in Adrienne Shelly’s 2007 movie of the same name, about a waitress in a small town who enters a pie contest in hopes of using the prize money to escape her unhappy marriage. »
- Dave Quinn
(Photo by: Dan Campbell / Horizon Award)The Horizon Award heads back to Sundance Film Festival for its third year and cofounders Cassien Elwes, Lynette Howell Taylor and Christine Vachon bring new and returning sponsors.
The Wme Lounge in Park City, Utah during the 2017 Sundance Film Festival hosted the crowded celebratory event where everyone freely mixed and met each other.
Six directors judged the final 53 films to select the two winners. Catherine Hardwicke (“Thirteen”, “Twilight”), Kimberly Peirce (“Boys Don’t Cry”, “Carrie”), Jamie Babbit (“But I’m a Cheerleader”, “Addicted to Fresno”), Karyn Kusama (“Jennifer’s Body”, “Æon Flux”), Tina Mabry (“Mississippi Damned”, “Queen Sugar”), and Vicky Jenson (“Shrek”, “Shark Tale”) chose. Brittany “B Monét” Fennell and Andy Villanueva whose self-directed short films of two minutes or less were submitted through the website (www. »
- Sydney Levine
The Horizon Award returned to the Sundance Film Festival and Park City, Utah on Sunday night to announce the winners of their third annual event. Co-founded by Cassian Elwes, Lynette Howell Taylor and Christine Vachon, the Horizon Award seeks to honor emerging filmmakers from around the world.
This year’s winners included Brittany “B Monét” Fennell and Andy Villanueva, who both submitted their self-directed short film (two minutes or less) for consideration. They were both awarded a cash prize during the event, and came to Sundance as part of an all-expense paid mentorship to the festival. ShivHans Pictures CEO Shivani Rawat also donated $25,000 to the Horizon Award winners for continuing education and sponsorship on film projects.
Read More: The 2017 IndieWire Sundance Bible: Every Review, Interview and News Item Posted During the Festival
Of the event, Rawat commented, “Being a woman in a largely male-dominated field presents challenges, one of which »
- Kate Erbland
“Kate Plays Christine” director Robert Greene and “Cameraperson” director Kirsten Johnson are among the filmmakers who will receive cash prizes from Rooftop Films. Greene will be awarded a monetary grant of $15,000 to help finish his new film, “Bisbee ‘17,” and Johnson will receive a $10,000 grant to support her upcoming film, “Deadpan.” Rooftop Films is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting and showcasing the work of New York City filmmakers and musicians. As part of its mission, Rooftop provides grants to filmmakers, rents equipment at low-cost to artists and non-profits, and organizes film screenings.
“The Rooftop Filmmakers Fund grant committee was blown away by the quality of applicants this year, and the projects we selected feature powerful personal stories and bold political statements—often within the same film,” said Dan Nuxoll, Artistic Director of Rooftop Films. “In a year full of confusing twists and turns, we are excited to be supporting several »
- Brent Lang
14 items from 2017
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