In a packed room of actresses, producers, writers and fans, Oscar Winner Octavia Spencer for Best Supporting Actress for “The Help” cheered on the 2013 Nominees at the 6th Annual Women In Film Pre-Oscar Party at Fig and Olive. Octavia honored the nominees in the room by sharing, “If it weren’t for all of you visionaries and the caliber of talent who are being honored this weekend, I don’t think that little girls out there would realize that they can dare to dream to be filmmakers. I just say thank you.”
While sipping champagne and having yummy hor dourves, Cathy Schulman, President of Women In Film and Mandalay Pictures, shared findings from a WIF study that was part of an initiative in partnership with the Sundance Institute and USC Annenberg. Cathy expanded on the results, “Although we are inching little bits better and better for women, not so good, the overall amount of opportunities for women to work on the top films in this nation per year when we look at all the different roles in the senior positions…, we’re talking abut 9%. This is not good enough.”
It was also great to speak to Stacy L Smith, who led the USC Annenberg Study, and Keri Putnam, Executive Director of the Sundance Institute, at this event about this study. For one year, they looked at over 30,000 data points and 11 years of films, and studied opportunities and parody.
And then the crowd learned the interesting conclusions from the study. Cathy expanded, “The top reason why women are not being seen everywhere we should is because we are not getting the money.” While no one was blaming men, the consensus was that it is time to change the way we do things to get the money.
Cathy then introduced Academy Award Winner Octavia Spencer. Octavia added, “I like to look for the silver lining. I like that we have the 9% because what that means is we have room to grow….If you’re looking for that silver lining, it’s not very good numbers, but we have 91% until we have parody in this industry.”
Octavia also gave thanks to WIF, “Thank you Women In Film. Thank you for being the pioneers, the mothers, the best friends, and trailblazers. If it weren’t for you, the diversity that we are seeing both in front of and behind the scenes wouldn’t be happening.” Octavia then thanked the sponsors for being smart to back smart women, including Perrier-Jouët, MAC Cosmetics and MaxMara.
And the stars, directors, writers and producers packed the room, including 2013 Academy Award nominees Amy Ziering (“The Invisible War”), Cori Shepherd Stern, Cynthia Wade, David O. Russell (“Silver Linings Playbook”), Estelle Fialon, Jacki Weaver (“Silver Linings Playbook”), Jessica Chastain (“Zero Dark Thirty”), Karen Baker Landers, Katie Spencer, Kief Davidson, Lucy Alibar (“Beasts of the Southern Wild”), Philippa Kowarsky, Pilar Savone, Quvenzhane Wallis (“Beasts of the Southern Wild”), Robin Honan, Sarah Greenwood, Sari Gilman, and Stacey Sher.
Special guests included Agnes Bruckner, Ahna O’Reilly, Chris Lovell, Clifton Collins Jr., Daniel Radcliffe, Gia Mantegna, Jared Harris, Jenna Elfman, Jimmy Jean-Louis, Kate Walsh, Katheryn Winnick, Kelli Garner, Louise Roe, Madisen Beaty, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Molly Sims, Paz Vega, Sharon Lawrence, Viola Davis and more.
Despite an accident on Sunset blocking traffic, Jessica Chastain came ten minutes before the party was scheduled to end with boyfriend Gian Luca Passe de Preposulo. They relaxed and stayed for almost an hour longer with David O. Russell and Daniel Radcliffe. We were fortunate to see Jessica Chastain and David O Russell at the car valet. It was fun to tell David O Russell that he is my pick for Best Director for “Silver Linings Playbook,” and he introduced me to the female producer for his film, Donna Gigliotti.
2013 has the highest all-time amount of women are being honored with 45 nominees out of about 200 total, which is a great step forward. Towards the end of her presentation, Cathy Schulman emphasized, “We have to fix this (number) because storytelling is our cultural history. We need stories by and for women.” And then Octavia said with confidence and a big grin, “Let’s keep it moving. Let’s ask for money. My name is Octavia Spencer, and I’m asking for money.”
© Liz H Kelly @LizHKelly, National Digital Entertainment Columnist and Sunrise Road Media http://sunriseroadmedia.com