20% Film Festival honors women in film


Jackie Galli

A film is screened at the 20% Film Festival and Showcase March 24. All the films screened at the festival were made with at lest one woman in a position of authority.

Jackie Galli, Sports Editor

Women filled only 20% of the behind-the-scenes jobs in the top 100 highest-grossing films of 2019.

This disparity inspired the title for the 20% Women’s Film Festival and Showcase, a film festival held annually as part of Loyola’s Women’s Resource Center’s Feminist Festival, according to Delaney Harper, history senior. The festival was produced by the Women’s Resource Center in collaboration with its Tulane counterpart, the Newcomb Center.

Harper served as the program director for the festival, working alongside College of Music and Media Administrative Assistant Caleigh Flynn. The event’s featured films were selected by a jury of Loyola and Tulane students and all of the films considered for the festival were required to have had at least one woman occupy a position of authority in the film’s production.

The festival was held March 24 and featured films from a variety of genres including science fiction stories and documentaries. This year’s festival marked the first time the event could be held in-person in two years, according to Flynn.

Harper said she has a passion for film and that she’s even worked on several low-budget film sets, in addition to her time spent working at the Women’s Resource Center.

“When I was growing up, I really loved movies,” Harper said. “I thought the only thing women could do was act in movies.”

Harper said events like the 20% Women’s Film Festival and Showcase are important because it showcases women succeeding in a variety of behind-the-scenes roles.

The festival’s jury was made up of workers at the Women’s Resource Center who have an interest in film and Tulane students taking the film seminar class at the Newcomb Center. Aidan Smith, who teaches the seminar, said the class deconstructs tropes like the femme fatale. The panel watched and reviewed more than 70 short films this year for the event, Flynn said.

Finally, the jury selected seven films to be shown at the festival. The 20% Fest featured various genres of films from a science fiction piece about going to space to a short displaying the reality of what happens behind the stall doors in a high school girl’s restroom, which Smith said, “opens up viewers’ eyes to value in short films.”

The jurors also voted on their favorite film, which was awarded the jury prize. They chose the top student film, as well,which was awarded the student filmmaker award, according to Harper. Audience members at the event also voted on their favorite film , and that film was given the audience prize, she said.

This year the jury prize and audience prize winner was the film, “#Free to be Free,” a mini-documentary about the struggle to pass the Crown Act in Louisiana. Producer Nia Weeks said the proposed ordinance would protect Black women from discrimination associated with wearing natural and protective hairstyles in the workplace.

“Telling this story was a labor of love and a gift from a Black man’s heart intended for all of us to see that our efforts to make this world better are not unnoticed, the depth of our beauty inside and out is appreciated, and the measure of our worth is insurmountable,” Weeks said in a post about the film.

While the Crown Act was passed in New Orleans, it failed to make it through the Louisiana legislature, Weeks said. Weeks said that there is still hope for the Crown Act to be passed statewide in Louisiana, as it currently is sitting before the legislature again as part of House Bill 41. Weeks urged attendees to call their Louisiana State Representatives and tell them to pass the bill.

Harper said she hoped that festival attendees went home with a new appreciation for the work of female filmmakers.

“I would say that women have stories that they have a right to tell, and they have a right to be heard, so just listen,” she said.