Last year’s inaugural Women’s Media Summit in Provincetown left organizers eager to produce similar gatherings around the country. But it turned out that most participants wanted to return to Provincetown to continue the work of closing the gender gap in the entertainment industry.
“People said it was the best place to get away, where they could concentrate solely on this issue,” says Christine Walker, the event’s producer. “Holding the conference in little inns and bed-and-breakfasts created an atmosphere of collegiality. It’s what happens in Provincetown.”
Walker should know. She’s the CEO of the Provincetown Film Society, which produces the annual Provincetown International Film Festival. She helped organize last year’s summit, which gathered filmmakers, academics, lawmakers, and supporters to hammer out strategies for combating discrimination on both sides of the camera.
The second annual Women’s Media Summit takes place April 5-7 with the addition of a film financing forum April 7-8, all at the Crown and Anchor in Provincetown. Keynote speakers are April Reign of the arts service organization Fractured Atlas and the creator of the viral hashtag #OscarsSoWhite; and Stacy L. Smith, a prominent researcher in on-screen representation and employment practices in all media.
Last year’s Summit took place before the groundswell of #MeToo and #TimesUp, so Walker expects this year’s event to “delve more deeply” into issues of sexual harassment, racism, and pay disparity in the entertainment industry. Panelists and participants understand that “this is a watershed moment,” says Walker. “We hope to build on the excitement and create a structure to shepherd our initiatives.”
The Film Financing Forum, open to everyone, will address investment and financing strategies, which is the biggest obstacle for women trying to realize projects, says Walker, an award-winning film producer whose credits include Todd Solondz’s “Life During Wartime” and “The Turin Horse” directed by Bela Tarr. “Financing comes not from the best pitch but from building community,” she says. “Everyone who attends the forum will leave with a next action step to get their project made.”
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Lens on Iran
Maryam Zahirimehr, an Iranian-born director who earned an MFA in 2016 from Lesley University, will debut her first feature film, “Endless?” at a free public screening at Lesley University April 13 at 6 p.m. The topical drama is about a grief-stricken mother in Iran who forced her daughter to marry and the relationship she develops with a young girl who’s new to the village. The film deals with the trauma of “Dowry Deaths,” women and teenage girls murdered or driven to suicide by harassment and torture by husbands or in-laws in an effort to extort an increased dowry. Zahirimehr, a photographer in the Boston area for more than 10 years, has directed several short films that screened at film festivals including Tribeca and Cannes.
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For love of Ivy
Audiences can get an early peek at the anticipated period drama “On Chesil Beach,” starring Oscar nominee Saoirse Ronan and Billy Howle, and hear from director Dominic Cooke on April 12 at Brown University’s campus in Providence. It’s part of the Ivy Film Festival, one of the world’s largest student-run film festivals, April 9-15. Besides showcasing the work of undergraduate filmmakers, other highlights include a keynote talk April 9 with Shia LeBeouf, Luke Turner, and Nastja Säde Rönkkö following a screening of their documentary “#TAKEMEANYWHERE”; a screening of the documentary “RGB” about US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, followed by a discussion with director Betsy West; and a screening of the recent Sundance hit “Eighth Grade,” Bo Burnham’s directing debut featuring breakout star Elsie Fisher.
For more information go to www.ivyfilmfestival.org.