Just before the International Women's Month celebration conclude this year, Southeast Asian creators and talent behind Netflix's stories, by, for and about women, have come together in Jakarta, Indonesia to talk about their experiences and perspectives as women in the entertainment and filmmaking industry.
Themed “Reflections of Me,” the event served as a platform where creators and talents talked about their shared experiences as women in the industry, and their journey in promoting inclusion and breaking stereotypes and biases.
“At Netflix, we believe more people deserve to see their lives reflected on stage and on the biggest screens we can get in front of. We know more inclusion behind the camera leads to better representation on screen which is why we're committed to creating opportunities in front and behind the camera for people from all backgrounds and cultures,” Amy Kunrojpanya, Netflix Vice President of Public Relations, Asia Pacific shared in during the event.
“Not all female-led films are created equal. There's a difference in female stories that are told through the male gaze compared to films about women, by women and for women. It's important to give women a chance to tell their own stories because as we all know, stories have the ability to change lives and to change the world,” she continued.
“Netflix wants to close the distance between underrepresented communities within our audiences, and those who are represented on screen allowing more viewers to see more of themselves in more stories and more places by providing a window to experience and celebrate diverse stories that have never been told before, to a global audience. Netflix hopes to shine a light on inclusive, and original voices in media and entertainment,” Kunrojpanya added.
Among those who delved deeper into their journeys of filmmaking and examined the impact women can and do have on the entertainment industry include Anupama Chopra, film critic and lead of Netflix's “Take Ten” program in India; Eirene Tran Donohue, “A Tourist's Guide To Love” writer; Kamila Andini, Indonesian director of “Cigarette Girl;” Manatsanun 'Donut' Phanlerdwongsakul, Thai actress in “Thai Cave Rescue;” Marissa Anita, Indonesian actress in “Ali & Ratu Ratu Queens, Impetigore;” and Marla Archeta, Filipino director of “Doll House.”
Throughout her years as a film critic, Chopra have observed some stereotypical portrayals of female characters in movies. For creators avoid the stereotypes to ensure authenticity in female characters, especially nowadays, she shared that it is important to get more women to tell these stories.
“I think just have more women tell stories, to have more women be in positions of power, to be in positions where they're greenlighting projects. You know, studies show that when HODs (Head of Department) are women, when the person commissioning a project is a woman – at least in India – the studies show that women even get more talking time in the trailers. And that's the impact of having women tell their own stories,” Chopra said.
“I think we should always continue to check our own biases and those kinds of stereotypes in our own head, that would go a long way,” she added.Much like in India, the film industry in Indonesia is also male dominated. For Andini, it is important to build a safe space for women when filming up production even if there were some challenges.”Creating a safe space for any gender for me is one of the things that I always tried to pursue in each of my productions.Usually I try to always pursue a balanced ratio of male and female creators that work for the film. But this is also hard because of mostly it's, it's male dominated,” Andini shared.
“It's very different in the past how you approach and how you talk. A lot of people doesn't know that much about consent yet, like how you talk to them and how you direct and how far can you touch someone and things like that? So, this is still the challenges because it's been going on over the years, but for me, I think especially leaders and production companies, it's important to give some sort of awareness to everyone in the production that everyone, all genders deserve a comfortable and secure environment for them to create,” she continued.
“I think it's important to implement code of conduct and ethical work practices. So, it pays for more women to enter the industry. We know there are so many female filmmakers that didn't want to continue because of feeling that it's not something for them. It's like the world is very tough for them or things like that. But filmmaking is for everyone, literally everyone,” Andini added.
In contrast, meanwhile, the landscape of the film industry is different wherein women almost equal to the number of men in production. According to Archeta it is good to see that the scene is continually evolving.
“I would say I'm lucky and grateful that in the industry that I've been working on, there are a lot of women – female directors, writers, cinematographers, producers – and hopefully there will be more. The younger generation actually has more female directors and I've seen their films also and all are good,” ArchetaAsked about the role women play in their chosen field, she finally mentioned, “I believe it doesn't limit to just one. With me being a director, I am also a mom, a wife, a sister so I play so many roles. It depends on the situation where we need to perform. I guess it's our skill as women, we can adapt in every situation we're in because that's our nature. We can perform limitless roles.”
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