HFPA celebrates “Women Breaking Barriers” at Sundance

In celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Golden Globe Awards, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) continued their series of special events at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival last weekend.

The HFPA hosted one of many special panels that took place a special “Women Breaking Barriers” panel featuring accomplished women from various fields in the film industry, moderated by HFPA member Elisabeth Sereda, who opened the session by announcing a $50.000 HFPA grant to the Sundance Institute Women’s programs. Panelists included Tina Lifford (Award-winning actress currently starring in “Queen Sugar” and founder and motivational speaker of The Inner Fitness Project), Reed Morano (Award-winning cinematographer and director; “I Think We’re Alone Now”), Sandra Oh (Golden Globe-winner; starring in and associate producer of BBC America’s “Killing Eve”), Cathy Schulman (Award-winning producer and president of Women in Film), and Octavia Spencer (Golden Globe-winner; currently starring in “The Shape of Water”). The panel was held at the Sundance TV Headquarters.

The talk touched on personal experiences and practical aspects in achieving equality for women in the entertainment business from in-access, on-set morale, treatment and pay.

“Seven years ago, I would call the trades and beg them to cover our issues and I couldn’t get a single article published,” said Schulman. “Now there isn’t a minute, a day, week or month that goes by that we don’t talk about women’s issues. The most important thing is that we don’t get all excited and then just brush everything under the rug again.”

Looming large was the industry-wide debate that’s currently taking place in Hollywood. Panelists concurred that it has been an important moment in starting the conversation but that the problem is more systemic than the abuse, which has come to light.

The role of men in the conversation was also touched upon. Spencer expressed a sentiment on many people’s mind when she suggested quietly listening as an important first step.

“This is a wonderful moment that’s happening right now. It is making us confront deep-seated cultural issues, it’s a paradigm shift. That can be frightening but we just need to take baby steps, put one foot front of the other. It’s not going be easy but we’ll get there.”

Added Lifford, “I don’t think we can underestimate the importance of conversation. Human beings tend to be afraid of change period. When we’re talking about huge cultural relationship changes it’s going to make everyone afraid. We need to create a space where everyone can express their feelings then we can move on to some sort of cooperation.”

Sandra Oh concluded on a positive note. “There is a new generation of women who have less heaviness on them and I’m sure there are lot of women in this room who have a clear creative vision and will put it out there and they inspire me tremendously.”


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