All of us here at Women In Film are so grateful for—and energized by—the tremendous success that was last night’s Gala, our biggest fundraiser of the year. For those who attended, sponsored, or donated, your participation is incredibly valuable as we continue to provide programming to advance the careers of women working in the screen industries. Highlights include:
Natasha Lyonne presented Amy Poehler with the first-ever Women In Film Entrepreneur in Entertainment Award, thanking Poehler for teaching her “how to take up space unapologetically.”
Issa Rae received the first-ever Women In Film Emerging Entrepreneur Award, delivering a show-stopping speech about which CNN wrote, “all should aspire to have the confidence of Issa Rae accepting an award.”
Viola Davis presented Women In Film Board President Emerita Cathy Schulman with the Crystal Award for Advocacy in Entertainment, saying, “Cathy’s greatest legacy will be her fierce, unapologetic advocacy for women, both under her prior leadership in this organization, but more importantly, in her workplace.”
Elizabeth Debicki spoke of finding it difficult to accept recognition as the 2019 Women In Film Max Mara Face of the Future, blaming “a system that tells women they should achieve with a kind of humility and with a kind of silent gratitude for what we’re given.”
ReFrame Rise has launched! Kyra Sedgwick presented four of the directors in attendance at the gala—Haifaa al-Mansour, Patricia Cardoso, Hanelle Culpepper, and Tina Mabry who, along with Desiree Akhavan, Zetna Fuentes, Sydney Freeland, and Meera Menon, will participate in a comprehensive and customized 2-year sponsorship that provides endorsement and support to accelerate high-level sustainable careers for experienced female directors who are poised to lead studio and independent features, pilots, and episodic television across all platforms.
Women In Film Board Member Lake Bell presented the top five female directors of the first-ever Members’ Choice Award: Marielle Heller (CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME?), Debra Granik (LEAVE NO TRACE), Chloé Zhao (THE RIDER), Mimi Leder (ON THE BASIS OF SEX), and Anne Fletcher (DUMPLIN’). Leder accepted on their behalf.
The event’s host Xosha Roquemore delighted the audience, as did WIF Board President Amy Baer, who said, “The actor, producer, director, and writer are not the sole creators. NO film or series happens without a grip, a gaffer, a costumer, or a post supervisor… Women In Film must—and will—evolve into more expansive and inclusive advocacy. We’re ALL on the same team.”
One of the major roadblocks to achieving parity is access to capital for female-led companies. We’re partnering with Pepperdine University to conduct a study of this imbalance, then we’ll create an action plan to connect women to the tools and resources needed to secure funding. With an extremely generous founding gift of $50,000 from Shivani Rawat, we challenged the audience to match that donation in order to launch this newest initiative. We are thrilled to announce that we surpassed the goal last night! Please consider helping us meet our next milestone for the program by adding your own donation.