The opening night gala selection for Toronto’s Female Eye Film Festival raised the ire of critics at last year’s Sundance Film Festival.
In fact the independent film, Hounddog, never even made it into mainstream theatres in the U.S. and has yet to grace any screens in Canada because of controversy surrounding a sexual assault scene in the production starring Dakota Fanning and Robin Wright Penn.
But perhaps it will finally get the play it deserves at the Female Eye festival, opening tomorrow, which celebrates women directors from Canada and around the world.
“I have no idea how it (Hounddog) escaped any kind of recognition by the academy,” said Leslie-Ann Coles executive director of the festival.
The film fest has been running since 2001 and for the first time ever will screen selections during the day Friday, then continues all weekend long with a variety of shorts and features directed by women.
Deborah Kampmeier, the director of Hounddog, will take part in a Q and A session after the screening and the New York state native said she’s proud to be part of the festival once again.
“I think our society has not been able to hear women’s voices for a really long time and I think it’s hard for women to even hear their own voices,” she said.
In the U.S., she said, only six per cent of directors are women.
“That means that 94 per cent of our stories are being told by men and that’s deeply disturbing to me,” she said.
Coles founded the Female Eye festival after she realized, as an actor and director herself, there weren’t enough platforms to showcase women’s work.
She said she wondered if women weren’t making films or if women-directed films just weren’t being programmed and found the latter was true.
In addition, there’s a lack of backing for female-directed films, she said.
“They’re not green lit as easily and not funded as generously as their male counterparts,” she said. “Why that is I’m not 100 per cent sure.”
With the recession this year Coles said the festival’s been built on a shoestring but she hopes the “astonishing” quality of the films, including Kampmeier’s, will continue to pull in the crowds.