BY MICHELLE HOLLINGER
Although a multi-billion dollar industry, the film world still has paltry representation of women behind the camera. Nine percent of the films made in 2015 had a woman director.
Yvonne McCormack-Lyons set out eleven years ago to change that dismal statistic by creating the Women’s International Film and Arts Festival. The annual event has brought celebrities like the late Ruby Dee, Jada Pinkett Smith and Vivica Fox to town in the past. This year’s celebrity attendance will include actor Shemar Moore and comedian Bill Bellamy, who are starring in the movie, Bounce Back, co-written by McCormack-Lyons said the support from the community is exciting. “The amount of support we’re getting from the film community, we’re getting a lot of support from the men in the community. They’re wanting to come out to support women,” which she said is inspiring because “Our festival has never been about male bashing, it’s always been about inclusion.” The level of support for this year’s festival is also exciting because the support, she said, has not always been there.
She said the presence of familiar faces in many of the festival’s independent films will likely result in more people attending.
“It sometimes makes people more comfortable about going out to support the film and support the festival,” she shared. “And a number of those faces are coming to town to walk the red carpet,” which happens on Nov. 3 at Cinepolis, 3015 Grand Ave. in Coconut Grove. The evening will include Red Carpet with Moore at 6 p.m. followed by a screening of the movie and a reception at 7 p.m.
Actress Kellita Smith will also be in attendance. Fans may remember her as Wanda Mac, wife to late comedian Bernie Mac on his show of the same name. Smith is starring in WIFF entry, Preacher’s Son,” one of New York Times Best Selling author Carl Weber’s adaptations of screenplays to films.
“The Breaking down Barriers conference, women and men are coming in from around the country, to give some of their experiences. Tracy Moore, celebrity acting coach who has coached everybody from Kerry Washington to Ludacris,” will be at the festival, McCormack- Lyons shared. Moore will present a workshop to provide “Aspiring actors information about how to get that part, how to dig from within to create that character.”
Another workshop will be presented to help musicians learn how to score music for film and television, she added. “James Mtume, who we all loved from the song Juicy Fruit and was musical director of New York Undercover, will show how music sets the mood.”
She and her team are “Really putting together a fantastic conference,” McCormack- Lyons said.
Ultimately, she said, the image of women on the screen shapes how women are treated in society.
“Understanding that the power is behind the camera. The power is the written word. Power is being able to take that idea and bring it into fruition by being behind the camera,” she said. Festivals like WIFF are also geared at diversifying the film industry from a racial and gender perspective.
“There is Hollywood so white, but there is also Hollywood so male. And if they’re able to diversity, it changes paradigm in terms of how people of color are portrayed and how women are portrayed.”
For more information, visit womensfilmfest.com.