Sexual harassment and assault. Pay inequality. Racism. Ageism. Patriarchy.
Filmmaker Nikki Corda says these are some of the injustices female directors, writers, cinematographers and actors face while working in the movie industry.
Some of the issues, such as the lack of opportunity, are much better documented. According to the Center for the Study of Women in Television & Film, women made up 18 percent of directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors and cinematographers working on the 250 top-grossing films in 2017.
“Along with gender inequality, now more than ever we are seeing the insidiousness of sexual harassment in the film industry [and all corners of our society],” Corda says.
All of these obstacles and struggles women face give the framework for why Corda and a handful of Las Vegas filmmakers and students started the Nevada Women’s Film Festival.
The event returns for its fourth year starting March 22 at Eclipse Theaters, and features films made by or about women from across the globe.
“Filmmakers from all over the world submit to us, and programming is a real challenge because there is so much quality material,” Corda says. “Women are eager to tell their stories and support each other.”
Adding this event is something that Las Vegas was missing, says Brett Levner, a filmmaker who is on the board for the festival.
“I had come from other cities that had women’s film festivals,” says Levner, who also teaches film at UNLV. “I guess I took it for granted.”
The first year was a single-day event. Each year the number of films has increased, as has the number of submissions from filmmakers.
There are some male applicants, but the film still has to have either a story line with a female protagonist or women in key roles within the production process.
The four-day event features documentaries, short films, animation and feature-length movies. Corda adds that subject matter covers a wide range of issues, from a fictional film about solitary confinement in Nevada to a documentary about a woman working to get a bicycle lane in Uganda.
Corda says some of the films being shown are from UNLV, Nevada State College and College of Southern Nevada students.
This is the first festival since the recent attention to the #metoo movement, which was originally started by civil rights activist Tarana Burke in 2007 and was co-opted in 2017 to shine a light on harassment and assault raging in industries like Hollywood.
“[Sexual harassment] has always been rampant, but the #metoo movement is finally shedding light on the severity of the issue that so many have known about or experienced,” Corda says. “And now women feel empowered and free to talk about and demand an end to it.”
Corda says the festival plans to host a panel discussion, “Raising Our Voices: Combating Sexual Harassment in the Film Industry,” featuring Dr. Heather Addison, the chair of the UNLV Film Department, along with filmmakers Rebecca Thomas and Alexis Krasilovsky. During the discussion, there will also be clips of Krasilovsky’s film, which talks about harassment among cinematographers.
Levner says the panel is a good way to localize the subject.
“Vegas is known as a center for sexuality,” she says. “It will be interesting to discuss how we deal with this issue here and how working in the industry in Las Vegas is different.”
There are still fights ahead for equity within the film industry, especially for women of color, who fare worse when it comes to pay gaps and representation.
“It’s about intersectionality and the idea of fighting racism while also fighting patriarchy,” Corda adds.
She hopes the local festival will continue to be a place where women and men can continue to talk about these issues.
For more information about the festival and for tickets, visit nwffest.com.