Local film festival helps women behind the camera

Maudie is the talk of award seasons across the globe, and it’s helping female filmmakers in this province be “scene” and heard.

Alex Kennedy

Oscar-nominated actors Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke star in Maudie. The award winning film was shot in this province.

The theme of the 2018 Scene and Heard conference in St. John’s is “Women behind the camera.”

One of the highlights of this year’s conference is a film that has created opportunities for women behind the camera in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The conference started on March 9 with a special screening of Maudie, the award-winning film that was shot right here in the province.

Maudie tells the story of Nova Scotian artist Maud Lewis, and her life spent painting with her husband Everett. Starring Oscar nominated actors Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke, the movie was shot and filmed all over Newfoundland. Filming locations included the Goulds, Port Rexton and St. John’s.

The film is the talk of awards season across North America and the globe, with more than 20 wins, including seven Canadian Screen Awards – including wins for best director, actress, supporting actor,  editing and screenplay.

The production crew of Maudie featured many people from this province. The producer, Mary Sexton from St. John’s, says the success of the film paints a very promising picture for filmmakers in Newfoundland.

“I think the impact of Maudie is that we have the talent here to be able to make award-winning films,” said Sexton. “It also shows that if you put the time and energy into a proper story, you can make the film that you want to make.”

The Scene and Heard Film Industry Conference is an event put off by the St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival. It helps female filmmakers network with others in the industry. It also gives them access to professional development and artistic training classes.

Martine Blue, a director based out of Epworth, about 20 kilometres outside Marystown, has attended the conference in the past and says it can be a very useful tool for people in the industry.

“It’s actually the place where I pitched my feature [film] … to the person that helped me get it made, as well as all the knowledge benefits that come from the instructors,” said Blue, whose film Hunting Pignut debuted in 2016.

Blue also said events such as the Scene and Heard conference is important in helping female filmmakers.

“It’s still a very male-dominated industry . . . We [women] definitely need the extra support that we get from organizations like the Women’s Festival, and workshops like Scene and Heard, where we get hands-on experience and we get connected with people we can potentially work with in the future.”

The Scene and Heard film conference continues until March 25 at the Rooms and at the Newfoundland Independent Filmmakers Cooperative at 40 Kings Road. The 29th Annual St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival will run from October 17-21.

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