Women battle in SA film industry
THE worldwide film industry is in shock following the release of Wonder Woman by Patty Jenkins.
Its South African release at the beginning of the month sprouted curiosity in the local film industry and the place it holds for women.
Wonder Woman is the first movie featuring a female superhero and is the first superhero movie directed by a woman. Despite this, it smashed box office records earning $212.648m (about R2.7 billion) in the US.
South Africa’s film industry is quite young.
Women, however, are as discriminated, if not more, as in other film industries.
Sara Blecher, a female director and winner of the Golden Horn Award for Best Achievement in Directing in a Feature Film for It’s Me, Anna said there are still many issues facing women.
“(Pre-made concepts and ideas) are easy to break and so bring new ideas without so many risks. That helps create a much wider space for new ideas and new concepts come into the air ” said Blecher.
She specifies that the industry allows space for failure and renewal, but women have it tough.
“As women, many constraints are put in your way. Some such as: do people trust you with their money, they don’t trust in your abilities. That results in you having to do everything yourself, from directing to producing,” Blecher said.
In her producing and directing, Blecher also tries to tell women’s stories.
The 2015 success of It’s Me, Anna highlights sexual assault. It’s an issue that is also rife in the industry. They are constantly victims of sexual harassment, violence and objectification while filming in a mainly male dominated industry, she said.
“Over 70% of women in the film industry do not feel safe to go to work. That number is absolutely terrifying.”
Her advice to upcoming female directors is: “They have to decide whose opinion they value so that they are not destroyed by their own films. Having mentors they can trust and that can help them grow is extremely important.”
As women, many constraints are put in your way
ROLE MODEL: Sara Blecher says it’s tough being a woman director in a male-dominated industry.