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Diff 2017: Female directors step into the spotlight

Filmmakers Niki Caro, Kimberly Pierce and Haifaa Al Mansour talks about their journeys

Image Credit: Courtesy: DIFF
Filmmakers Niki Caro, Kimberly Peirce, Annemarie Jacir and Haifaa Al Mansour attend the "Women at the Helm" photocall on day three of the 14th annual Dubai International Film Festival held at the Madinat Jumeriah Complex on December 8, 2017 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

A Women at the Helm panel discussion took place during the 14th Dubai International Film Festival with director Niki Caro (Whale Rider, 2002), American director Kimberly Pierce (Boys Don’t Cry, 1999), and Saudi Arabian director and IWC Filmmaker Award winner Haifaa Al Mansour (Mary Shelley, 2017, screening this week) talking about the enriching experience of being a woman in cinema.

Al Mansour shed light on the struggle of virtually having no voice, or ways to express herself as a woman, saying she “always felt invisible in Saudi Arabia as a child”.

The director elaborated on overcoming social pressures and paving the way for other women to get into the world of cinema, along with challenging society’s views.

Caro expressed her need for truth and staying true to the origins of a story with her movie Whale Rider, and how one can create amazing things within a limited budget.

“Making a movie is being a chief, where the director has to have confidence in his or her work, stay true to the story,” said Caro. “If you do your work right, the work will speak for itself.”

Pierce expressed the same views as Caro on the subject, while also elaborating on how she fell in love with her character for Boys Don’t Cry. Moreover, she expressed her thoughts on the stigmas of women in film, and her fight to challenge them.

With the recent allegations against disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, Pierce, briefly talked about a new code of ethics being published by the Academy, while also highlighting that women should embrace their female side, seeing as they are entering a new frontier of film.

— The Young Journalist Award (YJA) at Diff is a training programme for high school and university students who are aspiring writers and reporters. Seven students are competing at the festival this year. One winner will secure a monthlong internship with Gulf News.