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- Friday, Jan. 24, 2020
In this issue’s preview coverage of the Directors Guild of America (DGA) Awards and the Sundance Film Festival, a couple of female filmmakers loom large, helping us keep our New Year’s resolution of accentuating the positive. So while there are no women nominees for the Best Director Oscar this year despite some deserving candidates, there are at the same time examples of progress being made in terms of diverse talent being recognized on other fronts.
On the DGA score, Alma Har’el was just nominated for Outstanding Directorial Achievement of a First-Time Feature Film Director on the strength of Honey Boy (Amazon Studios). This marked the second career DGA Awards nod for Har’el whose “Love Without Bias” commercial for Procter & Gamble landed her recognition in the commercials category in 2018. Har’el, who’s repped by Epoch Films in the ad arena, thus is the first woman in DGA Awards history to have commercial and narrative feature nominations to her credit. It’s a career which has seen Har’el also serve as an activist helping to open up opportunities for women in film. In 2016, she founded Free The Bid as a response to her own experience of the ad industry’s hiring inequalities. The Free The Bid pledge prompted brands and their agencies to include at least one woman among the three directors bidding for every commercial job. These commitments--furthered by a Free The Bid database of talent that the industry could tap into--led to measurable increases in the number of women creators considered and hired for major ads. Free The Bid has continued to evolve, looking to extend its reach as Free the Work which is designed to nurture more creators from underrepresented backgrounds, yielding new-to-the-world stories that bring diversity to creativity.
As for Sundance, director Crystal Kayiza--who’s handled by Little Minx for spots and branded content--had a short selected for the festival for the second consecutive year. In 2019, she made the Sundance cut in the Documentary Short competition with Edgecombe. And this year she’s back in the docu short lineup with See You Next Time, which provides a window into the relationship between East Asian and African-American women. In-between those two tours of Sundance duty, Kayiza saw her Edgecombe earn her a slot in SHOOT’s 2019 New Directors Showcase unveiled at the DGA Theatre in New York.
At press time, Kayiza was working on another short that might evolve into something bigger as she looks to diversify into the narrative space.
So with 2020 getting underway, our hope is that the preview coverage of the DGA Awards and Sundance is also a harbinger of more such coming attractions with women not only gaining opportunities but also recognition for their directorial endeavors.