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Where are all the women directors?

Why are women directors in film and theatre still looking for a share of the chair? Pearl Tan, Margaret Pomeranz and Gillian Armstrong take on the industry at NIDA.

Pearl Margaret Gillian

Above: Pearl Tan, Margaret Pomeranz and Gillian Armstrong

Why are women directors in film and theatre still in a minority? Australian director and NIDA alumna Pearl Tan says it could be because of the way that many in the industry unconsciously think of women directors as a ‘risk’.

Named one of the Australian Financial Review and Westpac 100 Women of Influence in 2016, and delivering a TEDx talk on reimagining diversity in 2017, Pearl Tan is the creator behind the award-winning YouTube series Minority Box, and directed the feature film The Casting Game in 2017.

‘Women aren't allowed to fail in the same way men are,’ says Pearl Tan. ‘This leads to a lack of opportunities for emerging women directors followed by unreasonable scrutiny on their work.’

‘While many people find quotas intimidating, I'm personally all for them,' says Pearl. 'I think quotas or requirements such as the BFI's three ticks system (which takes a wider consideration of diversity beyond just binary gender into consideration) are fantastic because they are the quickest way to systemic change. Careful and considered policy changes are the only way to ensure that we shift the balance towards equality in the long run.’

In 'Getting a Share of the Chair' on 25 September 25 at NIDA, leading directors explore the issues facing women in the industry. Award-winning film critic, television presenter and NIDA alumna Margaret Pomeranz sits down with acclaimed Australian director and filmmaker Gillian Armstrong and Pearl Tan to explore the state of the art.

In an open and frank discussion, the women directors will question how difficult it is to be taken seriously as a female filmmaker, or theatre director, in terms of getting investment in a project. Are there ‘acceptable’ themes of the theatre and film industry that women are seen as unable to direct?

Studies show that half of all film school graduates are women, yet only 5% are working Hollywood directors. Jennifer Kent was the sole representative at last year’s Venice Film Festival. This year women are represented again but there are only two in the line-up. Leading actor Geena Davis has called Hollywood an ‘embarrassment’ and spoke out at France’s Deauville Film Festival this week that the #metoo movement has not changed the fortunes of female directors in the USA.

The panel will discuss the industry experience of leading artists, on issues such as working with a male crew, finding women as key creative collaborators, pitching ideas to festivals and the inevitable life family balancing act.

Getting a Share of the Chair
Women Directors In Conversation at NIDA

Date: Wednesday 25 September 2019 6.30PM.
Venue: NIDA Theatres, Parade Theatre, Anzac Parade, Kensington 2033.
Tickets: $25/$10 conc/alumni online or at the door.

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