JCU and So Fare members host a hybrid screening and a panel discussion on gender and inclusivity in the film industry with professors, students and special guest
By Sofia Parenti / Contributor || Edited by Ilenia Reale
ROME—The Women in Progress (WIP) series is a three-episode documentary celebrating creative women in Rome who have demonstrated initiative and resilience during the global COVID-19 pandemic, screened to the public for the first time on March 3 at John Cabot University’s Aula Magna, and followed by a panel on the Lemon Tree Courtyard. The event was organized by So Fare Films and the JCU Student Services Office in collaboration with Women’s Leadership Initiative, The Matthew and the African Cultural Club.
The directors of the documentary series are four young filmmakers from the video production team of So Fare Films: Saliha Crespo (JCU senior student), Mariolina Falone (JCU alumna), Lavinia Giardina (JCU alumna), and Sabrina Rosu (Roma Tre student). They directed, filmed and edited three episodes that make up the first season of a web series. The motion graphics of this season were done by Danielle Roberts (JCU alumna).
Each episode is dedicated to a different woman’s story and what she did to share her passion to the world.
“I loved the idea of filming and telling the stories of women who found the strength to reinvent themselves during a very hard time for the whole world,” said Lavinia.
So Fare Films co-founder, director and producer and JCU professor, Jenn Lindsay, said their production, Women In Progress, is a holistic fulfillment of the company’s mission:
“[The series is] creating a space in the film industry for underrepresented storytellers, both female-identifying people and people of diverse backgrounds […] both the content and the production of these pieces help us create more space for empowered creativity.”
Each episode of the WIP series has a running time of 3 minutes approximately, making up the first season of three.
Episode 1 features Anne Sibireff, a self-taught painter living in Appia Antica who has turned her art into a means to spread information concerning violence against women. Episode 2 features Marsha De Salvatore who responds to the struggles she encountered as an actress by founding the Rome Comedy Club. Episode 3 features Linda Martinez who creates one of the first American bagel delivery services in Italy.
“It is about time that women should be viewed, recognized, and ultimately appreciated as successful entrepreneurs,” said Sabrina Rosu.
Focused on an educational initiative, the WIP series is part of So Fare Films Emerging Creators Network, a program that bridges classroom education and the world of professional film, giving training to early-career filmmakers and media artists.
“At the very beginning I couldn’t imagine the final result, but it was something that was going little by little,” said Mariolina, co-director of the WIP series. “Now watching everything ready and well-packaged makes me feel very proud. It was a great experience in general, not only a working but also a social one, because we had the opportunity to meet new people with lots of energy.”
Hybrid premier with panel discussion on gender and diversity in the film industry
The Aula Magna screening event was presented in-presence by Mariolina Falone alongside Episode 1 artist, Anne Sibireff. The event was live streamed on Zoom for the JCU community and concluded with video messages sent by the WIP directors as by Marsha De Salvatore and Linda Martinez who could not attend.
Professor Lindsay moderated the one-hour discussion of three guest panelists: JCU Professor and Filmmaker Erika Tasini, JCU Professor and Filmmaker Kwame Phillips, and special guest Astrid de Berardinis Vice President and Co-Founder of Women in Film Italia. Each guest contributed to the panel discussion covering different aspects of what being a woman in the film industry entails.
Professor Phillips commented on the stereotypical representation of women in the film industry, often supporting strong and powerful ideals of women and overshadowing many other stories:
“It’s okay to just be,” he said. “Sometimes it’s important for people to recognize that just being is where we need to get to, and that you need to have the freedom to just be, as opposed to striving for a version of self that only mimics this very narrow representation.”
Professor Tasini shared statistics showing how difficult it is for women to be treated as equal to men in the film industry.
“Us women have a bit of a harder time as negotiators,” said Professor Tasini. “So, we’re also somehow involved in having to fight more for equality, and sometimes we don’t do a great job at doing that. So, that’s something to be working on. I am saying this for me and for whoever is in this room and wants to be a filmmaker.”
De Berardinis highlighted how there is a push for diversity and an active push for women’s voices in the film industry, but she said she recognizes that there is still work to be done, and that creators need to be able to take the space and protect it. She said women need to feel more entitled to take that space, because they have the right to. It is a fight for both men and women, “it is a fight together,” she said.
Professor Tasini also said that the role of gender and women in the film industry “needs to be worked on,” to which all the film experts in the panel agreed.
The WIP series tackles this issue by creating that space in the film industry for both female stars and female producers.
“Helping film this series was so special to me,” said Saliha, creative director of the WIP series. “As a young woman about to graduate college afraid to find a job or employment in film, these ladies remind me: ‘why not be a boss and create my own lane.’ I have grown watching this series and hope the audience does as well.”
So Fare Films is working on a crowdfunding campaign to complete the documentary, “Simulating Religious Violence.” For more information click here.
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