The increased momentum for women filmmakers (globally and in Hong Kong).
Film industry has predominately been the realm of men and there is a lack of women’s voices in the filmmaking business. Laura Mulvey, a renowned feminist scholar, criticised in her article “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” that movies are always made from the male perspective owing to the shortage of female directors in society and that women are often under-represented in the film industry. She also argued that women are the victims of ‘male gaze’, referring to the fact that women are the objects that carter to the fantasy of men in cinema. With the increasing awareness over this burning gender issue, concerted efforts have been made to promote gender equality in the film industry, and we have also witnessed an increased momentum for women filmmakers globally as well as in Hong Kong.
At the 68th Cannes Film Festival, Kering, the luxury goods holding company, cooperates with the festival to launch the “Women in Motion” programme, drawing the public’s attention to the talent of women and giving credits to their contribution to the cinema. A series of talks have been organised to deal with various topics such as women’s roles, status and their representation in the movies as well as in the film business, intending to expose the sexist nature of the industry. Two “Women in Motion” awards have also been established, with one recognising a female filmmaker who significantly dedicates to the cause of women in cinema and the other celebrating a budding talented female filmmaker.
In addition to the Cannes Film Festival, female celebrities in the Hollywood also devote themselves to empowering women in the film business, and Meryl Streep is one of the most important pioneers on this aspect. Seeing that there has been a declining number of female screenwriters in the film industry, she has recently initiated screenwriting workshops for women over 40. Streep hopes that aspiring female screenwriters can be given an opportunity to have a break in their career, and more female voices can be represented in the movie industry with a larger number of female screenwriters. Alongside with this screenwriting initiative for women, she also advocates gender equality, especially equal pay between two genders in the entertainment industry.
While in Hong Kong, as same as its other counterparts, female filmmakers do not play a crucial role and the Hong Kong film industry is largely male-dominated. Yet, there are in fact a multitude of brilliant female directors who are under-represented in the film business. Given this scenario, Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office supports a collaborative project called “Visible Secrets: Hong Kong’s Women Filmmakers” managed by Cornerhouse Manchester and University of Salford. This project aims to address the problem of females being omitted from the film business, and it offers a special programme of films designed to show the creativity and vivaciousness of female directors and their works. The programme introduces budding directors like Yan Yan Mak, Barbara Wong and Aubrey Lam, covering their documentaries and short films, and it also showcases the popular films of award-winning filmmaker Ann Hui in a bid to recognize the talent of women in Hong Kong film industry.