Female Filmmakers Share War Stories, From Breast Feeding on Set to Male Insubordination

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Female filmmakers have faced many challenges over the year, but few experienced the outright hostility of their government, as Wanuri Kahiu did on her film, “Rafiki.” a lesbian love story.

Speaking at TheWrap’s Power Women Lunch at the Toronto Film Festival on Saturday, Kahiu related how Kenya’s censorship board complained that her lesbian love story was too “hopeful” in a country where homosexuality is banned — and that her film could only be released there if she changed her ending.

Homosexuality is banned in Kenya, and so was Kahiu’s film. She said the censorship board complained that her film was too “hopeful,” and that they would allow its release if she changed the ending.

“The [Kenya Film Commission] asked if I had an ending that showed my lead as more remorseful. I said ‘No,’” she told a packed room of top women in the film industry. She also said she had decided to sue the Kenyan government next week to force the release of the film.

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Other international filmmakers shared their experiences as women behind the camera, from breast-feeding on set to battling male subordinates who seek to undermine their leadership.

“I had a Netflix rider in my contract that there had to be a cooler with ice for breast milk,” Chai Vasarhelyi (“Free Solo”) told moderator Sharon Waxman, the founder and CEO of TheWrap. “I was obsessed with it.”

“I breast-fed during shots,” said Patricia Rozema, whose film “Mouthpiece” is an abstract study of two different versions of the same woman, one inspired and confident and the other decidedly not.

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“It’s extremely important that our children see the work we do,” Rozema said. “It’s absurd that we have these precious creatures and put them all in one building to be raised by someone else.”

The panelists, who also included Nadine Labaki (“Capernaum”), agreed that women also face perception problems on set due to the historical lack of leadership opportunities they have received.

“I’ve had people approach me thinking I was with craft services or a unit publicist,” said Molly McGlynn, who directed the feature “Mary Goes Round” and attended the event as ambassador for Share Her Journey, the TIFF nonprofit group aimed at uplifting women in the film business.

Many of those individuals were men, she said, and McGlynn said she deliberately decided to “hold eye contact longer than I should, not to shame them but address the nature of that very question of why I’m there.”

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Panelists also agreed that women needed to stop asking permission to tell their stories. “The onscreen women we have been learning from are male creations. Everything we say and do are reactions to that gender creation … it’s self-sabotage,” Rozema said.

“I’ve learned to fight, and to speak up, and not be silenced,” Kahiu said.

A second panel on women breaking ground in the tech industry included producer Miranda Bailey, who just launched a women-focused media review website called CherryPicks; Jodi Kovitz of gender-parity nonprofit Move the Dial; and Ashleigh Gardner of the Canadian-based user-generated story website Wattpad Studios.

The event directly followed the festival’s Share Her Journey rally outside festival headquarters in downtown Toronto, which featured top leaders promoting the advancement of women in the film business. Share Her Journey was an official partner on the luncheon.

Others in attendance included Sundance executive director Keri Putnam, Women and Hollywood founder Melissa Silverstein, producer and Women in Film head Cathy Schulman, USC associate professor Stacy Smith, veteran film marketing executive Marian Koltai-Levine and Canadian officials like L.A. Consul General James Villeneuve.

TheWrap’s Power Women series is connecting and inspiring the leading influential women of entertainment, media, technology and brands in the key cities where those women work, create, gather, network and connect.

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Watch Our Jim Gaffigan Interview Go Completely Off the Rails (Video)

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TheWrap’s interview studio at the 2018 SXSW Film Festival ended in the best way possible — with an interview that went completely off the rails.

“You Can Choose Your Family” stars Jim Gaffigan and Logan Miller, as well as director Miranda Bailey, joined TheWrap to discuss the comedy in Austin Texas, and from the moment the group sat down, Gaffigan, Miller and Bailey took control of the interview in the best way possible, and TheWrap’s film reporter Beatrice Verhoeven could barely squeeze a question in.

The conversation went from comparing the film to “Call Me by Your Name,” where Miller said he was like Timothee Chalamet while Gaffigan was like Armie Hammer, to Gaffigan’s wrinkly shirt and why Matthew McConaughey has to star in so many Lincoln commercials.

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Gaffigan dangled his microphone by the cord and Bailey laid down in the middle of the interview, and even walked off set when Gaffigan started pondering the philosophical nature behind what film is all about.

Bailey assured, however, that even though Miller and Gaffigan were acting bonkers throughout the interview, that filming was “all business.”

“You Can Choose Your Family” stars Gaffigan as a father whose life is soon turned upside down when his son discovers that his dad has a second family. Anna Gunn, Danielle Campbell, Samantha Mathis and Alex Karpovsky also star.

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The comedy premiered at SXSW on March 11 and does not have a U.S. release date yet.

Watch the video above.

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They say you can’t choose your family, but director Miranda Bailey contends the opposite with her SXSW-premiering comedy, You Can Choose Your Family. Starring comedian Jim Gaffigan, Samantha Mathis, Anna Gunn and Logan Miller, the film centers on Frank, a seemingly normal father who turns out to have not one, but two families he’s been juggling for years.
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Jim Gaffigan to Star in Movie Comedy ‘You Can Choose Your Family’ (EXCLUSIVE)

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Jim Gaffigan is starring in the movie comedy “You Can Choose Your Family” for Miranda Bailey’s Cold Iron Pictures and Imagine Entertainment. Production will begin in May with Bailey making her feature directing debut. “You Can Choose Your Family” is a project developed in the Imagine/Reliance BIG Entertainment Writers’ Lab written by Glen Lakin that… Read more »