Oxford Film Festival 2018: The Year of the Woman

Oxford Film Festival Director Melanie Addington and Kayleigh Graham 

Oxford Film Festival started its 15th year of movies, panels and awards Wednesday, and this year, the ladies are running the show.

“Everyone has a good story to tell,” said Melanie Addington, executive director of the oxford film festival. “We really made a conscious effort to support women this year.”

Addington said the festival has received few female film submissions over the years, so this year, they gave female filmmakers a 50 percent discount. As a result, over 60 female directors have been featured at this year’s festival.

“There is a national movement of more gender equality in storytelling,” Addington said. “I’m a female filmmaker, so it’s especially important for me to see that.”

Cady McClain lead a panel of female filmmakers at the festival discussing her documentary “Seeing is Believing: Women Direct,” which delves into the struggles and successes of making movies as a woman.

When McClain sent the original, shorter version of the film to festivals, she received awards and praise, including the request for a feature length film. “It allowed me to dive even deeper into the topic and the material I had,” she said.

It isn’t just critics and filmmakers that are hungry for more content created by women, though.

“The tide is turning,” McClain said. “There are a lot of people that are looking for new voices, diverse voices. The audience is demanding it.”

McClain’s documentary follows female directors and creators as well as observers in the film world to understand the dynamic of women in the industry through an investigative lens.

“Part of the reason I made this film was my experience,” McClain said. “Our culture needs to see women in these creative roles as visionaries. My purpose is to inspire and uplift people.”

“It’s time we have a higher set of standards, a higher set of ethics,” McClain said.

The Oxford Film Festival is moving toward that higher standard of equality in filmmaking through creating the Alice Guy-Blaché Award, named after the director of the first narrative film. The best female filmmaker at the festival receives the honor of the award and a $1,000 prize. The award began in 2016 with Claire Carré’s feature film “Embers.”

“It was a wonderful surprise,” Carré said. While she sees the award as a step forward, she acknowledges problems still persist in the industry.

“I think there is bias toward only considering women for certain types of projects and roles,” she said. “People often think that female filmmakers could be a good fit for an emotional project or handling a script about women or family but assume that they are not proficient technically. That’s a bias I have come up against a lot.”

“I hope one day it will not be necessary to award female filmmakers specifically,” Carré said, “because there will be so much equality and diversity in the filmmaking world.”

Also read: Documentary Explores Women’s Struggles in the Film Industry 

By Daniel Payne, an intern for HottyToddy.com.

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