scene here | Local films, festivals, and faces

Following women on a mission, and revisiting a silent classic

“Equal Footing” is one of 11 short films about women and girls undertaking adventure sports in the No Man’s Land Film Festival.
“Equal Footing” is one of 11 short films about women and girls undertaking adventure sports in the No Man’s Land Film Festival.

Most cinephiles know that there’s a gender gap in today’s Hollywood. The question is, what can be done about it?

Women made up just 7 percent of directors of the 250 top-grossing domestic films last year, according to the 19th annual Celluloid Ceiling report by Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University.

More than careers are at stake.

“This is not a fight about jobs. This is a fight about how our stories are told. This is a fight about the perspective from which our universal stories emerge,” notes Cape Cod native Maria Giese, a film director who in 2015 instigated an industry-wide federal investigation into discrimination against female directors in Hollywood. Giese joined Christine Walker, CEO of the Provincetown Film Society, and Caroline Heldman of the Geena Davis Institute for Gender in Media to organize the recent Women’s Media Summit in Provincetown.

The event drew 114 participants from around the country. But they didn’t just talk about the problem. Taking a cue from resistance efforts mounted in the wake of the presidential election, the summit organized attendees into working groups that hammered out specific suggestions aimed at increasing gender equity in film and TV. The summit will produce a white paper on the recommendations in June, says Walker.


The summit “exceeded all my expectations,” Walker says. “The idea was to gather people together, sequester them in a room, and figure out priorities.” Participants identified seven key areas — litigation, marketing strategies, and lobbying among them — to tackle over the next two months. Anyone interested in working on one of these initiatives is invited to sign up for a task force.

For more information, go to womensmediasummit.org.

Adventure land

Empowering women through adventure sports is the mission of the Outdoor Women’s Alliance, which partners with the No Man’s Land Film Festival, a Colorado-based touring event that heads to the Somerville Armory on April 28, 6-10 p.m. The 11 short films about women and girls undertaking adventure sports include “Operation Moffat,” directed by Jen Randall, about Britain’s first female mountain guide, Gwen Moffat; “Catch It,” directed by Sarah Menzies, a profile of surfer Léa Brassy, who grew up in northern France; “The Good Fight,” Chrisann Hessing’s profile of Ryhana Dawood, a devout Muslim, certified black belt, and the founder of Martial Smarts, which offers free self-defense workshops to women in the Toronto area; and “Equal Footing,” directed by Dan Holz, about two friends bonding over shared experiences as they climb the granite peaks of Wyoming’s Wind River Range.


For more, go to www.outdoorwomensalliance.com/filmfestival.

Other worlds

Brazilian filmmaker Marília Rocha’s narrative debut, “Where I Grow Old,” about two young female friends from Lisbon who try to put down roots in Belo Horizonte (called the heavy metal music capital of Brazil), screens Monday as part of Belmont World Film’s 16th Annual International Film Series. It’s followed on April 24 by “Goldstone,” a noir thriller that stars Jacki Weaver, David Wenham, and legendary aboriginal actor David Gulpilil. Director, writer, cinematographer, and composer Ivan Sen will participate in a post-screening talk via Skype from Australia. All screenings are at the Studio Cinema in Belmont at 7:30 p.m.

For more, go to belmontworldfilm.org.

Silents and music

The epic silent film “Ben-Hur, A Tale of the Christ” (1925) screens at 7 p.m. on April 27 at Saint Cecelia Church in Boston, with organist Peter Krasinski providing a live musical score. Directed by Fred Niblo and written by June Mathis, the film stars Ramon Novarro.


For more, go to ben-hur.brownpapertickets.com.

Loren King can be reached at loren.king@comcast.net.