Calling all Aspiring Womxn Directors: An Interview with Girls in Film founder Nikola Vasakova

Georgio Konstandi 24 February 2020

Girls In Film founder, Nikola Vasakova, is calling all women-identifying aspiring directors to submit their applications for her Womxn Filmmaking Fund. The ‘Girls in Film Fund’, supported by Dr. Martens, is a new £5,000 grant created “to help emerging female filmmakers realise their creative visions.”

In light of this wonderful cause and amid the recent conclusion of the historic Harvey Weinstein trial, I decided to have a chat with Nikola; one feminist to another.

As founder of GiF, could you tell us what specifically about female representation in film is so important to society?

It’s important to include stories from all angles, perspectives and experiences. Therefore, representation of women and other minorities as well as their stories and worldview is so crucial in having a balanced culture. Visual culture in form of movies and TV influences us more than we realise and what we see on the screen from an early age shapes us forever. 

 

Indeed, representation in film and TV is a topic that has recently entered mainstream social and political discourse, with even major US politicians such as Californian Senator Kamala Harris speaking up about why it is crucial that women and minorities see themselves reflected in media.

Many feminists argue that if there were more women directors, tragedies such as the Weinstein scandal would be less likely to happen. Do you agree with this?

I think it has to do with bigger problem of patriarchy and the cult of powerful men in Hollywood. Certainly having more women in a position of power could help but the weight should not be only on their shoulders. This is a deep rooted problem that will take some time to change and everyone has to pull their weight. 

This is certainly the view taken by major female actresses. In an interview with Emily Maitlis, actress Dame Emma Thompson spoke of an “endemic” sexual abuse problem within the film industry, speaking of Weinstein as someone “at the top of a very particular iceberg.”

Dr. Martens is sponsoring your amazing fund. Do you think large corporations have a responsibility to follow their example and support women’s issues?

Currently more and more big brands and corporations recognise the importance of working with and supporting grassroots organisations and communities. I think the changing tide is well and truly underway and it’s great to see some good initiatives and projects that have come out of that. 

 

To add to this, just a few weeks ago, banking giant Goldsman Sachs announced that it would not consider cooperating with newly-listed companies that did not have women on its board. Though this comes as a welcome sign of change from the top, for some feminists this is too little too late and does not solve the supposed incompatibility between the current capitalist system and women’s empowerment.

On the top 100 grossing films of 2019, women represented just 12% of directors in 2018 (https://womenandhollywood.com/resources/statistics/). Can you sum up why aspiring female directors should apply to the GiF fund in 12 words?

It’s tough out there – we want to give you a leg up! 

Applicants have until March 4th 2020 to submit their applications via http://girlsinfilm.net/film-fund. In the name of progress and hope, Nikola and I wish you all good luck!