For decades, women have been underrepresented in the film industry. Only 3.4 percent of film directors were female in 2016, according to NPR. Women only fill 28.7 percent of all speaking roles in films, according to an additional study from the Institute for Diversity and Empowerment at Annenberg.
While the gender gap still prevails in Hollywood, it does not mean the issue can be neglected, which is precisely why Stephens College is addressing the inequality at a local level by defying industry standards and bringing female film directors to the forefront with its annual Citizen Jane Film Festival.
It was 10 years ago that the Citizen Jane Film Festival came to fruition. Professors in the digital film department at Stephens recognized the disparity in women’s representation in the film industry and wanted to create a forum for discussion and a platform where women’s film achievements could be celebrated.
“Women were making films, but there was no focal point for people to convene and share what they were making,” CJFF features programmer Donna Kozloskie said. “It started as a series of lectures and one-off screening and now it’s snowballed into a four-day event.”
The four-day extravaganza begins Thursday evening with the Citizen Jane Summit, a public dialogue where industry professionals examine topics about women in film. Friday offers a film school for aspiring young female film directors, then day-long panels discussing topics such as the rise of web series success. That evening marks opening night with the first movie showing, Landline, at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday are packed with film screenings, which, according to the CJFF website, include narrative, documentary and short films.
“Citizen Jane Film Festival is special because we show films directed only by women and most festivals don’t do that,” Kozloskie said. “The festival is small and there is a sense of community. It’s like a little home for filmmakers and students who want to come and interact.”
While the film festival may be smaller in size than most, it is anything but insignificant, especially for its students. Stephens student Anna Tripolitis attended CJFF last year and noted that the festival is an integral part of the school’s calendar year.
“Students talk about it non-stop. It’s a way for people to find a commonality,” Tripolitis said. “And that’s the point of Citizen Jane, films by women — it brings back girl power of being at a women’s college. It lets everyone know you can be successful and be a woman.”
The festival highlights the importance of a woman’s voice, and the selected films touch on concepts of love, sexuality, coming of age, life as a millennial and much more. And while these films are solely directed and expressed by women, they are intended to be viewed by both men and women.
Kozloskie wants filmgoers to understand that CJFF is an inclusive event, and a greater variety of viewers means moving closer to eliminating rigid industry standards.
“While it is a women’s film festival, it’s not just for women,” Kozloskie said. “We’ve all gone to see men’s films, so there is no reason to not see women’s films. That is one of the main stigmas stopping women from being more successful in the industry.”
The CJFF is open to the public and MU students are encouraged to attend. MU graduate Mackenzie Landa believes the festival to be a crucial part of Columbia’s culture.
“Mizzou students value tradition and realize it is important,” Landa said. “And if they recognize it as part of Columbia’s culture and tradition, it will be a really unique opportunity for them to take advantage of.”
The CJFF website has a comprehensive list of the weekend’s featured films, including their scheduled times and locations. Once you have identified films that have piqued your interest, head to the Citizen Jane box office, located on 1405 E. Broadway, to purchase individual tickets for these films. Ticket prices run $10 for the general public and $8 for students and seniors.
Edited by Brooke Collier | email@example.com