“I am not a woman filmmaker. I am a filmmaker,” Patty Jenkins told the room at Fouquet’s in TriBeCa on Thursday evening. The director was deep in conversation with actor Zazie Beetz as part of a Through Her Lens Conversation on the importance of empowering women in film, as part of the women filmmaker empowering program sponsored by Tribeca and Chanel.
Their 45-minute long conversation ranged from their own entry into the industry and their breakouts, from Jenkins’ award-winning turn writing and directing “Monster” to Beetz starring in “Atlanta,” to current trends in filmmaking (Jenkins thinks that the downturn of Marvel movies is only temporary) and the value of art in our lives.
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“How many times do you hear someone [say] ‘this song saved my life’ or ‘this film saved my life,’ or ‘completely changed my perspective.’ And obviously there’s value in all things, there’s value in the medical field, there’s value in whatever. But I sometimes feel like art isn’t given its due,” Beetz said. “Art is our soul. And what gives us the ability, I think, to interact and to have empathy and to communicate that empathy. And that’s why I think filmmaking is such a powerful medium. And if we’re going to be putting so many resources into it, then let’s do something with it.”
Jenkins, meanwhile, touched on how hard it was to have her ideas heard after the success of her first film “Monster,” while she saw her men counterparts with similar experience being trusted and given chances.
“You let these guys make nobody, you roll the dice on these guys to make all kinds of stuff and you’re like, ‘he’s an artist. I don’t know.’ Never was I given that, that was not extended to me,” she said. “And sadly, it’s still a problem.”
After the talk, guests including Tommy Dorfman and Havana Liu Rose were welcomed upstairs for cocktails and to continue the conversation. The Chanel and Tribeca partnership, which includes the Through Her Lens program and the Artist’s Dinner during the festival, will be a decade strong next year and has helped launch the careers of filmmakers like AV Rockwell and Numa Perrier.
“Women’s voices are incredibly important but it’s also showing the model for all kinds of diverse voices,” Jenkins said after the talk about what drew her to participate. “We need to find pathways for diverse stories to make it.”
“In general I’m just passionate about women and women’s stories,” Beetz said. “I think women in film have been such a battle to be respected as serious artists and serious filmmakers.”
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