By Kathryn O’Kane
NYWIFT Board member Kathryn O’Kane was among the six NYWIFT representatives who attended the historic Women’s Media Summit in Provincetown, MA, last month. She offers a recap, including the opinions and takeaways of fellow board members, and looks ahead at what’s next on the NYWIFT Huffington Post column. See an exclusive excerpt below:
On March 27, 2017, women’s rights in the workplace were threatened when the current administration revoked the 2014 Fair Pay and Safe Workplace executive order. The rollback repeals protections meant to create more equitable work environments for women including prevention of discrimination and ensuring equal pay. This administration’s hostile trajectory of federal policies towards women deals a significant blow to civil rights that has many alarmed.At the same time, 102 women were converging on Provincetown, MA for the inaugural Women’s Media Summit. They tasked themselves with developing pragmatic and non-partisan solutions to the systemic gender discrimination that infects every level of the media and entertainment industry. The goal of the Women’s Media Summit was to develop a “White Paper” of tools and actionable strategies with benchmarks “to create an immediate shift toward gender equality among American storytellers.” Although the conference had been planned months in advance, its timing was now infused with a sense of urgency.With that, on the tip of Cape Cod at the beginning of a rainy weekend in April, industry leaders and organizers across disciplines acknowledged that gender discrimination is not just a moral and legal imperative – it is a human rights issue. Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers.”And yet, according to a new report by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University, the number of women directing the top 250 movies in 2016 actually decreased to 7%, a decline of two percentage points from the previous year. Additionally, women account for only 13% of writers, 17% of executive producers, 24% of producers, 17% of editors, and 5% of cinematographers.As further proof of systemic gender discrimination, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is currently in settlement talks with the major Hollywood studios. The talks focus on unfair hiring practices. While the EEOC cannot comment on the details, it has been widely reported that after an investigation beginning in October 2015, the EEOC found that every studio engaged in discriminatory hiring practices against female directors.
NYWIFT is thrilled to welcome new board members to our leadership team for the 2022-2023 season! Powerhouse entrepreneur Emelyn Stuart, one of our newest NYWIFT Board Members, is the owner and founder of Stuart Cinema & Café in Brooklyn, which in addition to being a screening space will offer distribution deals to independent filmmakers and be a resource hub for artists. She was named Best Producer at LA Web Fest for her series 12 Steps to Recovery, and her feature Life Is Too Short premiered to sold out audiences in New York during its debut screening and in 2017 it was awarded Best Feature Film domestically and internationally at various film festivals.READ MORE
New York Women in Film & Television is thrilled to welcome new board members to our leadership team for the 2022-2023 season! Globetrotting new NYWIFT Board Member Shruti Ganguly is an award-winning filmmaker and writer based between New York and Oslo. Ganguly was a member of the Obama Administration’s ECCO committee of 30 leaders and creators in entertainment, chairing its Asian Caucus, and is on the Creative Council for Emily's List. She has produced films that have premiered at Sundance, Venice, Tribeca, Telluride, and Berlin, and is currently writing for Secret Daughter for Amazon Studios, which will star Priyanka Chopra and Sienna Miller.READ MORE
NYWIFT is thrilled to welcome new board members to our leadership team for the 2022-2023 season! We sat down with new NYWIFT Board Member Kia Brooks who, as Deputy Director of longtime NYWIFT partner The Gotham Film and Media Institute (formerly IFP), is no stranger to the NYWIFT community! Brooks created The Gotham’s Owning It program that supports women and non-binary media makers and entrepreneurs who break boundaries in the media and entertainment industry, and developed the Expanding Communities program, which provides resources, community space, and industry access to individuals with Disabilities and BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ creators.READ MORE
When NYWIFT Board Member Kathryn O’Kane headed off to direct season two of The World According to Jeff Goldblum for Disney+ it was, in her words, “the worst of times” – the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, before vaccines were available and film production felt particularly dangerous and fraught. But the difficult work paid off, and has led to the best of times! Season two of the docuseries, which follows the beloved quirky actor as he pulls on the thread of a familiar topic to unravel a world of fascinating secrets, has been nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Hosted Nonfiction Series or Special.
We checked in with Kathryn to offer our congratulations, learn more about the filming process, and discuss what’s next for her.