Women in the Director’s Chair at this year’s 35th Annual San Francisco Jewish Film Festival

Women’s Film Institute is proud to be a community partner at this year’s 35th Annual San Francisco Jewish Film Festival (July 23 – August 9).


Don’t miss feature documentary The Armor of Light, Abigail Disney’s directorial debut on Tuesday, Jul 28, at 6:30 PM in San Francisco.

It’s not easy to bring fresh light to the polarized debate on guns. But in her breathtaking directorial debut, Abigail Disney takes viewers far above the tired talking points of the NRA. Disney has serious film pedigree: Her grandfather Roy co-founded Disney Studios with his brother Walt. Her documentary is so riveting, some scenes feel straight out of a fiction film. Evangelical minister Schenck is familiar with challenging the status quo: He was raised Jewish, then became an evangelical as a teenager. He rose to prominence in the 1990s as a militant pro-life activist. But troubling encounters with gun violence forced him to ask whether a pro-life position could be consistent with pro-gun. Disney follows him as he explores these questions at gun shows and ministers with stand-your-ground opponents. He eventually teams with Lucy McBath, the mother of Jordan Davis, an unarmed teenager murdered in Florida whose case has become a landmark in the fight against stand-your-ground laws. His new supporters surprise him as much as the vitriol of his old friends. It isn’t an overreach when Schenck notes parallels between increasing pro-gun extremism, rising gun violence and the Holocaust. As his father once told him, pointing to pictures of the camps, “This is what happens when good people say nothing.”

Director Abigail Disney and subject Lucy McBath in person in San Francisco and Palo Alto.  For more information and to purchase tickets: http://sfjff.org/2015/films/armor-of-light-the/

Don’t miss Blue Vinyl directed by Judith Helfand and Daniel Gold on Friday, July 31st, at 2:30 pm in San Francisco.

Activist filmmaker Judith Helfand, who explored the devastating effects of DES on her own body in A HEALTHY BABY GIRL (SFJFF 1997), is not one to look the other way when a potential toxin gets too close to home. So when her Jewish parents affix vinyl siding to their suburban Long Island abode she gets suspicious. Armed with a big blue slab from a home improvement project, Helfand marches straight to the centers of vinyl production to get the skinny on the seemingly harmless plastics, used to make not only cheap, durable siding but also flooring, toys, credit cards, IV bags, you name it. Taking a personal comedic approach, directors Helfand and Gold brilliantly link unlikely stories and characters across continents, race, and class to uncover the impact of vinyl manufacturing and disposal on the atmosphere, the food chain, and humans. It is not a pretty picture. You will never look at plastic the same way again. http://sfjff.org/2015/films/blue-vinyl/

Judith Helfand In Conversation on Saturday, Aug 1st, at 2:10 PM in Berkeley.
Judith Helfand is not just a filmmaker, she is a force of nature. She co-founded Working Films and Chicken & Egg Pictures supporting social justice filmmakers. Her award-winning films (including Healthy Baby Girl and Blue Vinyl) have premiered at Sundance, aired on PBS and HBO and garnered a Peabody Award. Join us for an onstage conversation and clip show (including her upcoming Cooked ) as we honor her tremendous contribution to the documentary field. For more information and to purchase tickets: http://sfjff.org/2015/events/judith-helfand-in-conversation/

Freedom of Expression: Lee Grant on Sunday, Aug 2nd, at 2:35 PM in San Francisco.


At the age of 25, Queens native Lee Grant (born Lyova Haskell Rosenthal) had it all. After studying at the prestigious Actors Studio, she became an acclaimed Broadway star, then quickly catapulted into international fame with both a Cannes Best Actress win and an Oscar nomination for her screen debut in William Wyler’s 1951 Detective Story. But in an instant it was over. After passionately accusing the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) of driving a blacklisted screenwriter friend to his death, Grant opened the notorious anticommunist rag Red Channels one day to discover that she had been branded a Communist subversive. Yet in the 1960s the actress beat the blacklist, first with the popular prime-time soap Peyton Place, followed by her second Oscar nomination in Norman Jewison’s 1967 Best Picture–winning In the Heat of the Night. Grant’s creative rebirth continued through the 1970s with another Oscar nomination for Hal Ashby’s The Landlord and her 1975 Best Supporting Actress win for Ashby and Warren Beatty’s celebrated LA comedy of manners Shampoo. In 1980, she directed her first feature Tell Me a Riddle based on Tillie Olsen’s novella. Grant holds nothing back in her live-to-tell memoir, I Said Yes to Everything, yet another achievement for this actress, director, producer and this year’s recipient of the SFJFF Freedom of Expression Award. – Thomas Logoreci

Lee Grant appears in person to accept her award and participate in an onstage discussion of her career in conjunction with a 35th anniversary screening of Tell Me a Riddle.

Following the screening of Tell Me A Riddle, join Lee Grant on the Mezzanine of the Castro. She will be signing copies of her memoir I Said Yes to Everything. For more information and to purchase tickets: http://sfjff.org/2015/events/freedom-of-expression-lee-grant/

More information about the SF Jewish Film Festival visit:

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FREE Filmmaker Toolkit

WFI-WITH-SPACE1We’re working on creating the Fierce Filmmaker Toolkit that will be available on our site to download for FREE. We need your help. We want to create the Fiercest Filmmaker Toolkit ever and that will help filmmakers around the world to be more productive, from concept to distribution. We want to create a toolkit that is valuable, current and that can help emerging talent to established professionals in filmmaking be the best that they can be.

We’ve created a quick survey. There are only 5 questions that will take a couple of minutes to complete. Your feedback will give us more insight into what you would like to learn and what tools/advice/tips that you can recommend that increased your success as a filmmaker. We look forward to hearing from you. Take a minute to fill out the Fierce Filmmaker Toolkit Survey. We promise it will be worth your time!

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Penelope Spheeris Reveals the Backstory Behind Cult Documentary ‘The Decline of Western Civilizaton’

75For a movie about the underground punk scene, the film’s nearly impossible-to-find status contributed to its cult appeal. The director explains why it hasn’t been legally available until now.

For decades, there were only two ways to watch “The Decline of Western Civilization”: buy a bootleg or download it online. Both are illegal. For a movie about the underground punk scene, the film’s nearly impossible-to-find status contributed to its cult appeal. Like hunting down a rare vinyl record or an out-of-print fanzine, scoring a copy of the 1981 documentary required a rabid degree of dedication in exchange for street cred.

Penelope Spheeris, the film’s director, has a less romantic way of explaining the movie’s thriving underground market: theft. “You know that feeling you get in your stomach that’s like this fluttery kind of fear?” she told Indiewire recently, describing the sensation that would wash over her when she’d stumble across a bootleg copy of “The Decline of Western Civilization,” including the 1988 and 1998 sequels of the same name. “The worst part about it was that they were making really bad copies, that my work looked like shit. And that’s the part also that really upset me.”

After years of what she describes as paralyzing anxiety surrounding the films she considers her life’s most important work, Spheeris finally did something about that queasy feeling in her gut. At the insistence of her daughter, Anna Fox, who has stayed in touch with many of the subjects in her mother’s films, Spheeris undertook an intensive two-year process of digging up and editing archival footage, restoring the movies and shopping for a distributor. Beginning on June 30, all three DVDs will be available in a box set from Shout! Factory. (By Jennifer Swann | Indiewire)

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Why Natalie Portman’s Ruth Bader Ginsburg Biopic Was Delayed

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The Director List Highlighting the Work of Women


The Database – The database is a practical tool to help members of the film and television industries find female directors for their ODA’s, approved director lists, rosters, and any other projects that might require a director. There are over 850 directors included in the database and each one of them has directed either a feature-length film (narrative or documentary), television episodes, or they are seasoned commercial or music video directors. And, of course, they all happen to be women.
 The database includes filters geared toward the needs of producers or executives– covering medium, genre, region, etc. As the site grows, more filters will be added.

Please feel free to let us know what additional information will help you find the talent you need for your projects. Send requests to help@thedirectorlist.com.
Please note, the database is intended to be a starting point in your research on women directors and does not claim to be comprehensive or completely accurate, though best efforts have been made to achieve the latter. Please do your own additional research before making any decisions. 
If you are an agent or manager with a client you would like to add to the database, contact us atsubmissions@thedirectorlist.com and we will send you a submission form. Please make sure their experience fits within the parameters listed above before contacting TDL. http://www.thedirectorlist.com

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