What about your job inspires you?
I love discovering interesting individuals living unapologetic lives, living fully, living with a purpose. I get a great pleasure from being a messenger of lives well lived, and from exploring how people live and think. For me, film is a gateway into understanding the world. Films are the gates to my own thought processes. I love being inspired by people and their ideas.
How has your identity shaped the way you tell stories?
I was born in Lithuania in Eastern Europe, which was under soviet occupation when I was a girl. I think that’s where a need to highlight and tell the oppressed people’s stories comes from. I am also a woman, who had to prove to myself and to others many a time of my abilities. Perhaps that’s the reason I am drawn to bad ass women, living against the odds, living loudly and proudly. I love to tell stories of women, to celebrate and uplift them: in that way, I myself get uplifted and inspired.
What do you make of the gender imbalance in the film industry?
The fact that the film industry has been a man’s business it’s not news. However, technology and women’s movements have allowed more and more women to step behind the lens, to write, to record sound, to light.
Yes, today the numbers are still low, but I see a lot of progress, especially in the documentary space. This year’s Sundance had 46% of films directed by women. That’s huge! And that’s just the beginning. So we are changing the indie space.
The Oscars, while not having any women director nominees this year, still made history with the short film about a taboo subject – Menstruation – taking home a statue, as well as a movie with a complex, complicated, badass women portrayal, The Favourite, getting the credit it deserves. Times are slowly changing in the industry. Women’s voices (and stories) are getting louder. Women are getting more courageous, taking up more space. Women directors of photography are not a crazy rarity anymore (we have a whole website, www.cinematographersxx.com, in case you don’t believe me). Director Alma Har’el’s Free The Bid is fighting to make room for women in the commercial triple bidding space.
When I direct, I often have an all-women crew, and I’ve never been in a more creative, collaborative atmosphere.. Women rock! I see a bright future in the film industry for women, and I am very happy to be a part of this movement, to be able to tell stories from our perspective.
Why do you think it is important to have a diversity of people telling stories and practicing the craft of filmmaking?
It’s crucial to have a diversity in telling stories, because world views and experiences are as diverse as the creators. To represent and to better understand the world we live in, the stories should be told by differently thinking people. Film has such a transformative, emotional power through its intimacy and symbolism. Filmmakers have a power to inform and send a message to the viewers, to influence thinking, to put forth new ideas. We have to be responsible with this, to not to have monopoly of opinions and creators. As the viewers, we benefit if we see diverse messages, lives, voices and points of view coming from the screens.
What is your message to young women breaking into the industry?
Tell your own stories. Follow a curiosity. Find what unique exists in your surroundings, tell the stories only you can tell. Work with women, because in the film industry, women really do support other women. Co-create, share ideas and don’t be afraid to find your voice. Make money on branded content and in advertising but don’t sell your soul. And email me if you need a word advice or a kick in a butt 🙂
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