Friday, January 25, 2013

Women Artists Organize for Gun Control

Women artists are responding to the recent shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School and elsewhere by organizing for more gun control legislation.  In Washington, D.C. there will be a March on Washington for Gun Control organized by Molly Smith, the Artistic Director of the Arena Theatre and her partner, American Indian activist Suzanne Blue Star Boy, in collaboration with One Million Moms for Gun Control, Trinity United Church of Christ, Foundry United Methodist Church and the Washington National Cathedral.

In the video below, Smith and Blue Star Boy explain why they felt compelled to organize this event.  They make the point that since they are from Alaska, they can understand people who use guns to hunt, but they do not believe that people need the kinds of weapons that are available now.

The march is aligned with President Obama’s initiative on gun-control including reinstating the assault weapons ban, banning high-capacity ammunition magazines, requiring background checks, focusing on gun-safety training and outlawing bullets that shatter in the body.

The march will start at 10 a.m. at the Reflecting Pool on Third Street NW.  Thousands are expected to join this march to the Washington Monument.

Other theatre artists in Washington, DC have also stepped forward.  At 3 p.m. there will be a performance of “Boged (Traitor): An Enemy of the People” (based on the Ibsen play) at Theater J followed by a “theater action” to support gun control staged by NoPassport theater alliance at 5 p.m. at Georgetown University’s Gonda Theatre.

NoPassport was founded by playwright Caridad Svich in 2003. It is an artist-driven, grass-roots theatre alliance and press devoted to cross-cultural, Pan-American performance, theory, action, advocacy, and publication.  For the gun control action, Svich sent out a call for 3 - 7 minute plays in December. At the NoPassport event, produced in collaboration with Theater J, interdisciplinary arts ensemble force/collision, and Twinbiz, performers will read from new works by playwrights including Matthew Paul Olmos, Neil LaBute, Jennifer Maisel and Caridad Svich. 

In closing, we also want to mention a thought-provoking blog by playwright Tammy Ryan asking what it means that her plays with guns in them are the ones that get produced the most:.  She writes:

 "I have never owned a gun, never touched a gun, never even ever seen a real gun... but the characters in my plays do. Not in all of them -- just the most successful ones, the ones that have been sanctioned by the powers that be as "good," the plays that receive professional development, multiple productions, get published, and win awards. In each one of those plays a character either has a gun, shoots a gun, is threatened by a gun, threatens someone else with a gun, is afraid of guns or is somehow traumatized by the violence of a gun. This is a deeply disturbing revelation for me. I don't think of myself as writing about guns. I think I'm writing about family, communication, the power of forgiveness and healing. But the presence of guns in my writing is undeniable."  The guns in my plays (1/20/13 on

Reports on Women At the Sundance Film Festival

Gamechangers at Sundance
(Jacki Zehner is in the center)
Women are the hottest subject at this year's Sundance Film Festival, and there have been lots of great reports and reviews from women who are there. 

Sundance Board Member Jacki Zehner has been tweeting at @JackiZehner and posting first hand reports on her blog. Her initial piece is at:

There is some especially exciting news in her report on the Women At Sundance party ( )  Over 150 people, both men and women, packed into her house to celebrate the success of women filmmakers at this year’s festival, to discuss ways to further empower women in filmmaking, and to hear the results of a research study called “Exploring the Barriers and Opportunities for Independent Women Filmmakers.”

Also, to assist female directors in breaking through to that elusive mainstream Hollywood success, it was  announced at Women at Sundance that a new fund has been set up in partnership with Impact Partners and Chicken & Egg to directly fund films by women filmmakers. Called Gamechanger, this fund will be run by Producer Mary Jane Skalski, and will fund women directors in a variety of genres with the goal of making commercially successfully films. 

Melissa Silverstein of Women and Hollywood has also been posting lots of great articles and reviews.  doing great coverage.  We especially enjoyed Fariha Roisin's review of Salma about a Tamil woman poet's struggle against the patriarchy, and Kerensa Cadenas' list of Sundance Deals for Women's Films.

We also want to congratulate our Bay Area colleagues at Chicken & Egg Pictures.  Five of their grantees have films at Sundance this year:  After Tiller by Martha Shane & Lana Wilson; Citizen Koch by Tia Lessin & Carl Deal; Gideon's Army by Dawn Porter; The Square by Jehane Noujaim; Valentine Road by Marta Cunningham.  Also, two films by their grantees have just been nominated for Academy Awards - Kings Point (directed by Sari Gilman) for Best Documentary Short and The Invisible War (directed by Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering) for Best Documentary Feature.