Ása Helga Hjörleifsdóttir kvikmyndagerðarkona hélt hátíðargusuna svokölluðu á opnunarkvöldi Alþjóðlegu kvikmyndahátíðarinnar í Reykjavík síðastliðinn fimmtudag. Ræðuna flutti hún á ensku en þar fór hún yfir hlutskipti kvenna í kvikmyndaiðnaðinum.
Ása Helga hefur gert tvær stuttmyndir síðan hún útskrifaðist úr námi og hyggst gera sína fyrstu kvikmynd í fullri lengd á næsta ári sem hún byggir á bók Guðbergs Bergssonar, Svaninum.
Í gusu sinni kom Ása Helga inn á hlutskipti kvenna í hinum erfiða heimi kvikmyndalistarinnar. Meðal annars sagði hún frá því að það eru fjögur ár síðan kona leikstýrði kvikmyndin fyrir ríkisstyrk hér á landi. Hún sagði einnig að kvenleikstjórar hefði ráðlagt öðrum kvenleikstjórum að vera ekki áberandi, hvorki í kvikmyndum sínum né sem opinberar persónur.
Gusuna má lesa hér fyrir neðan:
While I was in film school, a recurring image started popping up in my head, especially late at night, after long hours of work. I would close my eyes and on the back of my eyelids I would see a red carpet. A clean – crisp almost – red carpet leading into a cinema. What a tease, you might say to your tired, burnt-out mind, but on good days, the dream felt like a tangible one. The playing field back then felt fair and safe: just do the work and with some luck you might make it.
Cut to now: Two years since I graduated from film school and the more the film world reveals itself, the more I see how little room there is for words like fair and safe. It’s been a wild ride: thrilling but no less sobering in its realities. The stomach-grinding financial worry is a thing in itself: Being invited to a big festival – hotel, fancy dress code etc. – and all the time hoping that no-one finds out I’m secretly living off the daily lunch tickets the festival provides me with, and whatever sublet money I can scratch together while I’m away. Is this really how it should be?
The bigger and more endlessly frustrating realization has been to feel – even when I didn’t want to – how uneven the playing field truly is when it comes to gender. Sure things are better than before, but even so – it’s been 4 years since a female-directed live action feature film has come out in Iceland with state support. Things are better than before, yes, but even now in 2014 I’ve taken part in major international film labs where the already very few female directors are advised – often by other women – to be less fierce both in their filmmaking as well as their public persona. I wonder how many male directors get that advice: to be more subdued in their films or less bold in their attitude. Women are asked to put their fangs away, or at least try to hide them. Why? Because stories by women on screen are still the other, still a minority voice that apparently has to be isolated so it can be heard. And that is no less frustrating. Am I nothing if I’m not a female filmmaker? Is that why I was asked to talk here tonight?
At last years Berlin Film Festival Jane Campion simply sighed when asked how it feels to be a woman in film. She sighed and said to the woman that had asked; “just do the work and that will be your best weapon”. But even Campion herself later admitted that for the work of women to break away from its minority labeling, the state funding system would have to be equally divided between the sexes to begin with.
I’ve been lucky: my short films have travelled, and just a few weeks ago the Iceland Film Fund announced its support of my first feature film. For this I am deeply thankful. Films can be the axe for the frozen sea within us, like Kafka said about books. Films ferry stories from one end of the world to the other. They give people – nations, even – a new perspective. And they certainly can bring the worldview of women to the forefront. What are we waiting for?
It’s fitting that the film we’re about to watch is funded and produced by an organization called Gamechanger; a fund that supports films directed by women. All I can say is: Let the games change.