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The Animation Pimp: Ladies’ Night

The Pimp returns with field research on programming women animator-specific screenings.

Girls, y'all got one A night that's special everywhere From New York to Hollywood It's ladies night and girl The feeling's good

                “Ladie’s Night”, Kool and the Gang

February 7


Hello. I'm writing my next Animation Pimp column about the issue of women's screenings. This year I've had two programs pitched to me. One about indie women animators...another about taboo films by women. I've got a couple of female colleagues who find that this idea of a gender specific screening is tired and only serves to further isolate...perhaps a bit patronizing. My love buddy Becca doesn’t see a problem with it. It’s a chance to offer different perspectives of specific issues (e.g. sex, politics, trees) don't really have a clear opinion, but I do wonder if those are valid points… especially in a field (indie. animation) where women animators are frequently celebrated, awarded and screened. If you so desire...I'd appreciate a short comment from each you expressing your own feelings about the subject.

I'll own up to saying that -- I've started feeling like at this point it might be the best expression of feminism to be considered, and criticized, as a professional and not a 'female professional'. I feel like the category of 'films by women' is too broad. Unless it's very specifically an area where women are still underrepresented and equality is still an issue, maybe it still makes sense to participate in the feminist agenda, but yes... I feel it CAN be a bit patronizing to apply a gender divide willy-nilly. Maybe just a more conscious participation is in order? I think we are lucky enough in western society to experience the more or less positive results of the equality movement, but the flip side of that is that there's now room to take a step backwards... Willy-nilly

I had had an opinion in the past that gender specific screenings and festivals is a strange concept. My films couldnt get into women film festivals, so I had no idea what is going on in there. But then I got very close to Tricky Women festival in Vienna and Flying Broom Festival in Turkey and I change my mind completely. They are very important!!

If you want I could write more about it over the weekend, am slammed at the moment. Kisses to you all s

I have very mixed feelings. I do think we need eternal vigilance to keep women as equal participants in the world of animation. I have found myself several times in the last few years at screenings of indie animation where women are either invisible or severely under-represented. I get SO BORED of putting my hand up and asking where the films by women are...I'd much rather be talking about something more interesting. But it's my impression that women as animation directors are getting rarer - I see women choosing to go into producing..maybe it chimes better with their self-image. I think it's tremendously important for young women animators to see women fairly represented in festivals and other screenings. And there are films that address women more than men, and those films are less likely to get past male festival gatekeepers. And yes, there are some really crappy films by women too.

So, I do find it somewhat patronizing to have special festivals and screenings for women animators. But it sure beats a one-in twelve ratio, which is what we often see in screenings and festivals. xxx R

Flying Broom! Awesome name

I have mixed feelings about this as well. I strongly feel that if women want to be considered on the same playing field as men, then we should definitely not go around creating our own "female only" fields! That said, I have actually benefitted from gender segregation for various awards, screenings and festivals. Woman is the only 'minority' group that I fit into! So although I want to abolish this silly gender classification, I don't want to diminish my fellow women's chances to succeed. It's tremendously important for women animators to be fairly represented in festivals and screenings, but I am not sure if female/gender specific events is the best way of achieving that.

Geez, guys! how are you supposed to achieve gender equality if you have no place to accumulate your gender power??! Gender specific events are supposed to boil and spill over to mainstream venues and make the rest of them pay attention!!! This is what Tricky Women Fest does in Vienna and Flying Broom in Ankara! In rural Turkey they treat women worse than dogs, one has to stand up for herself and for her gender to make the difference! I could go on and on about this. Unfortunately, gotta go...

Maybe instead of a separate category we should just be recognized along with men? The programmers and industry should be conscious of this. I feel there is no need for this category as it contradicts what we want to achieve in animation. I mean, look at Julia Pott, Brooke Keesling....... and Rebecca Sugar and a million other amazing female animators/producers...They are doing great things in a male dominated field. They have the power! By segregating us, yes it calls for attention but it also belittles what we can do equally or even better than men...Flying Broom sounds cool, but I don't think it's the best platform to spread the ideal, what with the witches and magic and all. We got balls, y'all. Shake em'. And work double hard.... Like a penis.

i hope that made some sense.

women in turkey need some magic, Leah. it's not US there.. really

this is true.

im just thinking in a large scale. nothing against turkey, its awful there. chauvinists and all.

Ha ! I cant work with the conversation here... : ) Leah, the way i see it: there is industry and there is this other thing, call it art or self expression or indie film (always considered to be on the margins of the industry). Industry rejects women as makers/creators because industry caters to young male tastes (males of 18-21 is the target audience everyone seems to try to please). So women are pushed to the margin where no big money nor name can be made. Since you dont have a million dollar budget on your resume you cannot enter the sacred gates of the industry. And so on. As to indie films - Bill Plympton is the king because he makes films that young males like to see. It is wonderful! But making films that young women want to see is doing not much to anybody. I'd like to know - WHY IS THAT? An any case, gender specific events/festivals are good, because if this the only place you'll be accepted, then they are your opportunity to connect with an audience, build a resume, improve your filmmaking skills. I see nothing wrong with that. now I gotta go again : )

I am thoroughly enjoying this, you guys.

This is such a tough question. On one hand, I've had my work screened in many of these gender specific programs and have appreciated those opportunities, plus I have been happily involved with Lunafest for many years because their screenings raise money for the Breast Cancer Fund. On the other hand, I'm not sure that separating women in this way does a whole lot to help anyone. I wasn't raised to think that I couldn't do something because I was female (okay, yes I was raised by liberal hippie parents) so when my work started screening at "women only" festivals and screenings I thought it was a bit of a novelty and a throwback to an older definition of feminism. At least half of my CalArts students are female and they are kicking serious ass in their work. We have a ton of female artists and animators here at this studio and all over the industry. If you consider the world that our mothers and grandmothers grew up in, I'd say we're catching up by leaps and bounds, but it's going to take another generation or two to really even out.

*and I love Leah's "Flying broom is all right, but fuck that."

here here!

I wish we lived in a world where this question didn't have to be asked. Personally, I don't think that a screening of films made by 'women' makes much sense unless it is further themed. Retrospective programs are great for uncovering 'gems' that would otherwise be unknown -- great animation from students at particular schools, for example. So it makes sense to me to gather 'hard to see' films (or student films) by well-known female animators or women working on some particular theme or from some particular country. People (mostly women, but also some men) often ask me why women aren't more widely represented in my lectures, though I make an effort to insert women when I have that option. I also try to insert films from around the world. If a festival makes the effort (assuming it wants to) to present a balanced program in respect to themes, techniques, national origins, gender, and whatever else, then a 'films by women' screening, as a simple category, isn't needed. Maybe make more of an effort to target groups you want to submit -- Women in Animation, Women in Film, etc. That's what we do when we do faculty searches, trying to attract more diverse applications. Then maybe have a backup selection committee or person that could go through some of the rejected submissions to see if fresh eyes could add 'diversity' to a panorama or competition screening. Anyway, my two cents . . . The lower percentage of women is a problem in history books, too -- including my own. I'm working on it . . .

Maureen is taking shots at me!

Except I don't do selection solo.. Keltie can vouch



Plus we screen the shit out of lady films

Agree with all of the above, especially Maureen. I haven't come across this that much, as my films are normally put into late night 'saucy' screenings rather than 'women's' screenings. This makes sense because it's about the type of films I make not because I happen to be a woman. A screening of women's films is pretty meaningless but a screening of films about issues of particular interest to women would be interesting. The films could be by men and women but the subject matter is what would be from a woman's perspective. I recently went to the Animateka festival in Slovenia (with Leah Zagury) and was blown away by so many great films by young women students. They are super talented and ambitious and I'm sure they'd be horrified at the thought of being lumped in a women's screening!

*Lea* sorry

thanks for all these diverse and thoughtful perspectives!

I regret to say I haven't been to Ottawa in a while, so I don't know what you show . . . it wasn't intended as a shot. I'm just saying that someone who intentionally is looking for opportunities could go in after official selection to see if anything was overlooked. You could even do that yourselves. I suppose that's obvious, but maybe someone with different 'taste' might open things up in various directions. My point was really that a special screening wouldn't be necessary if it were possible for your festival or any other to allow for more diversity in general. I have jet lag, so that's the best I can explain it . . . simple form: 'films by women' = 'no'

February 8

hi all. I thought it might be different and mildly funny to just reprint these dialogues unedited into the column. Is that okay with everyone...or is there stuff you'd want removed? I just like the looseness of the chat...and the different streams... it shows that it's a complex issue with no clear answers. Rather than be editing and rewriting it all into something smooth...i'm feeling it's more raw and honest to present it as is.. If anyone objects, let me know.. Thanks again too.

Do it!

Hahaha yes

You're just lazy, Chris. You made us work and now harvest it. Another proof that women must work harder than men to achieve anything! : )


I'll keep that line in

: )

  um. let my edit mine. i did nooot edit that enough. and i no has good grammar...

That's going in to Leah.


is it because im a woman?!



fine by me

Chat conversation end

Seen by Leah, Joanna, 5 more

Featuring: Ruth Lingford, Joanna Quinn, Maureen Furniss, Signe Baumane, Keltie Duncan, Megan Turnbull, Brooke Keesling and Leah Shore.

Chris Robinson's picture

A well-known figure in the world of independent animation, writer, author & curator Chris Robinson is the Artistic Director of the Ottawa International Animation Festival.