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NEWS & IDEAS

FilmMAKERS: 5 Views on Women in Film-- Past, Present and Future

The pinnacle of awards season is The Academy Awards, celebrating the year's achievements in film. At MAKERS, we think this is the perfect time to honor women in film who have proven themselves to be leaders and innovators in the industry. While there is much debate about the ratio of men to women when it comes to awards in the film industry, there is absolutely no question about the impact women have made on the past and future of filmmaking. Today's playlist features thoughts on the past, present and future for women in film from MAKERS (and also filmMAKERS) Nora Ephron, Diane English, Miranda July, Sara Lamm, and Tiffany Shlain.

The late Nora Ephron was a beloved writer, director, and producer. She wrote, directed and produced 15 films, and is probably best known for her romantic comedies, such as When Harry Met Sally (1989)Sleepless in Seattle (1993), and most recently Julie & Julia (2009). Ephron explains her motivation for taking the leap from screenwriter to director in 1992: she simply wanted her movies to be made. Since then, she directed 8 films. 

Diane English, an Emmy-winning film and television producer, director, and screenwriter is probably best known for creating the show Murphy Brown. English talks about the difficult 14 year road she traveled to finance a movie that had one apparent complication -- an all-female cast. The Women, a remake of the 1939 George Cukor film which was written by a female screenwriter Anita Loos, was finally released in 2008.

Miranda July is an award-winning filmmaker who also does not let any preconceived notions about what art should look like limit her. So far, she has written, directed and starred in two feature-length films, Me And You and Everyone We Know (2005), winner of the special jury prize at the Sundance Film festival and four prizes at the Cannes Film Festival, including the Camera d'Or, and The Future (2011). Content to beat to her own drummer and create her own career path, July talks about the importance of experimenting with unexplored creative methods in the arts and how her mind reacts to something new.

Sara Lamm is a Los Angeles based documentary filmmaker, whose films include Dr. Bronner's Magic Soapbox (2006), Birth Story: Ina May Gaskin and The Farm Midwives (2012). Looking at solutions for the future, Lamm shared with MAKERS why she thinks there are fewer women in film production and how she believes we can overcome it.

Lastly, Tiffany Shlain is the filmmaker and artist who founded the Webby Awards in 1995. A pioneer in the emerging film world of transmedia and social filmmaking, her last four films have premiered at Sundance, and her films collectively have received more than 50 awards including "Disruptive Innovation Award" from the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival. Shlain talks with MAKERS about the importance of simply being an individual and a female even if it is in a so-called "man's world." In her words, "Why would you want to be like anyone else?"

Of course, there are countless other trailblazing women in the film industry, working in front, behind, and adjacent to the camera. For an idea of the breadth of women in filmmaking making moves (and movies), just take a glimpse at some of the women doing great things behind the camera on MAKERS.com alone: 

And that does not include all of the women who worked on the film MAKERS: Women Who Make America, which will premiere on PBS this Tuesday February 26th at 8:00 PM EST (check your local listings).