In this week’s Wednesday 5: Women behind the lens at the recent Tribeca Film Festival; TV shows that hired no women writers in 2011-12; Jenna Lyons takes J.Crew from “ugly duckling” to “fashion arbiter”; a centenarian, Kathryn Wasserman Davis, dazzles us; and Saudi Arabia launches its first anti-domestic-violence campaign. 

 

1.

Women Behind the Lens at the Tribeca Film Festival

At the Tribeca Film Festival, which just wrapped up in New York City, women directors were behind 26 feature films—about a quarter of the total number of films presented during the two-week festival. Although that number is still low, it represents a steady increase from previous years. (Yet those low numbers reflect the overall landscape of the absence of female directors in Hollywood, period). Ten of those 26 women at Tribeca are featured on The Daily Candy’s round-up of Women Behind the Lens, with interviews of Christina Voros, Jessica Oreck (who had a first feature documentary in the festival), Chiemi Karasawa (whose documentary on Elaine Stritch was profiled in WVFC here), Steph Green, Enid Zentelis, Jenee LaMarque (both writer and director), Marina de Van, Kat Coiro, and Rachel Boynton. 

 

2.

TV Shows That Hired No Women Writers In 2011-2012

veep_gq_9jul12_pr_b_642x390-1Although the show is about a female VP, “Veep” hired no female writers during its 2011-12 season.

While we (kind of) celebrate the increasing numbers of women directors at Tribeca, we simultaneously lament these statistics as recently reported by 2013 TV Staffing Brief: 

Of 1722 writers who wrote for 190 shows, 519, or 30.5 percent of them, were women, and 269 of them were people of color. For women, those numbers are up 5 percent from the 1999-2000 television season—as the report put it, “At this rate of increase, it would be another 42 years before women—roughly half of the U.S. population—reach proportionate representation in television staff employment.”

We were particularly disappointed to see Veep on the list of shows that had no women writers—a show our Chris Lombardi wrote about earlier this month. How can a show about the female vice-president of the United States not have a single female writer on staff, when it clearly depicts the gendered politics of Washington in its episodes?

Read more and see the full list of shows without female writers at ThinkProgress.

 

3.

How Jenna Lyons Has Taken J.Crew from “Ugly Duckling” to “Fashion Arbiter”

With so much talk about leaning in and leaning out, sometimes our conversations neglect to show the practical side of things: How  success actually happens, as opposed to what that success looks like. Fast Company’s recent (and brilliant + thorough) profile on Jenna Lyons, the 44-year-old executive creative director and president of J.Crew and recent maker of TIME’s 100 most influential people  list, does just that: explore Lyons’s transformation of J.Crew from “preppy to a force in fashion” and “a fan base that includes Michelle Obama and Anna Wintour.” And although some might assume Lyons’s success might seem instantaneous, she’s actually worked for the company since she was 21 years old. What she’s been able to do is transition from the title of CEO to that of global tastemaker—s task not easily or frequently done.

Read more at Fast Company.

 

4.

Great Dame

Last week we brought you the bracing story of the World’s Oldest Yoga Teacher, a woman so hardy that she challenged our view of nonagenarians. For this week’s dose of inspiration we offer the story of Kathryn Wasserman Davis. Davis—an intrepid philanthropist who donated millions to educational institutions, Scenic Hudson, and to other charitable causes and who was Wellesley’s oldest living alumna—died last week at 106. “What a dame!” our informant (Wellesley ‘68) kvelled. Here’s a sampling of her lust for life: Traveling through the Caucasus Mountains when she was 22, Davis was robbed by bandits; they stole her horse and her food, and she lived on berries and spit-roasted goat (“And I couldn’t have been happier!” she declared later). She traveled internationally every year for 100 years—till 2012. She took up kayaking when she was 91; played tennis till she was 96; then, after a hip fracture, took up painting—seriously. She was looking forward to attending her 85th Wellesley reunion in June. Kinda challenges one’s view of centenarians, doesn’t it?

Read “Reflections,” by Kim Bottomly, Wellesley’s president, to learn more about Davis’s life.

 

5.

Saudi Arabia Launches First Anti-Domestic-Violence Campaign

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We’ve been following the progress of women’s rights in Saudi Arabia closely, so imagine how compelling we found this image.  The government of Saudi Arabia (which embraces a conservative form of Islam known as Wahhabism) has embarked on a national anti-domestic-violence campaign that features a woman whose eyes are bruised and wounded under her veil. It’s a striking image, and cloaked in symbolism, one that reflects the culture of silence on domestic abuse—for women universally, not just in Saudi Arabia.

Read more about the campaign here.

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