But first a short message …………
It’s always exciting when the scores come back from the judges and I finally learn who the winners are. Sometimes it’s obvious, and other times the judges choose winners I didn’t anticipate. A bit like the People’s Choice Award. It’s not always easy to predict which Opening Night film the audience will pick as their winner.
When this festival started, we had a participation rate of about 5 -10 per cent from female filmmakers. This low figure reflected participation rates by female filmmakers in the Australian film industry generally. The figure may have been lower compared to male participation rates, but female filmmakers were still finalists and winners in this festival.
To address gender imbalances in the Australian film industry, in December 2015, Screen Australia introduced it’s suite of Gender Matters initiatives to increase female participation in film by funding projects created, written, directed and produced by female filmmakers. After reading about this, we introduced the Rouge Program, a female only filmmakers program to screen at the Sun Theatre during our 2016 festival. We saw an immediate increase by female filmmakers, up to 35 per cent. The Sun Theatre gave us extra theatre time so we could show all the films. To launch this exciting program, I approached Sue Maslin, award winning film producer and strong supporter of women in film, to launch the first program. She surprised us all by offering to come on board as a sponsor and judge of the Rouge Program, by donating $1000 and the Film Art Media Award to the Best Film By A Female Director. This is Sue’s third year as a sponsor. In the last two years, entries into the Rouge Program have also come from overseas. This year we received a high amount of quality entries from female filmmakers who entered our Rouge program, too many to screen in one program, and a few received Screen Australia funding under the Gender Matters Initiative.
When I received the judges’ scores this year, a remarkable and exciting picture began to emerge: the majority of this year’s winners are women. Remarkable, because sadly, it’s unusual. In the 14 adult categories that are Open, where we give out the Awards on Opening Night, (excluding People’s Choice), 10 of the winning categories were won by women, usually it’s one or two. Congratulations to all our winners.
EDIT: The Setting Sun 2018 People’s Choice Award, Best Film 2018 and Highly Commended were also won by women.
Anna Bourozikas, Festival Director.