A few weeks ago, the 15th anniversary of the Fusion Festival happened at NYU. The festival ran for three days and featured an incredible line up of women presenting their films and talking about their work in the industry.
I have been lucky enough to be on the Fusion team for three years now; so not only have I been able to attend and volunteer at the festival, but I’ve also gotten to help make it happen each year. As it is my senior year, it was my last year on the Fusion team. I was promoted to the head of the public relations department (the department that I started in when I joined as a sophomore) at the beginning of the school year and I got to have a place on the Executive Board with all the other department heads. It was gratifying to know that my work in PR paid off, but it was mostly inspiring to be included with a group of women who were working so hard to make the festival the best it could be.
The reason I joined Fusion in the first place was because I could tell that it was something special. It felt like there weren’t many opportunities for women in film that were as big and as welcoming as this one, so I definitely wanted to be apart of it. As a female filmmaker, I knew I was entering and industry where my gender would be in the minority, but after being accepted into Fusion, I could tell that the group of women I was with was going to challenge and change that. Fusion has given me so much hope for my own future and the future of the film industry because I’ve heard from so many amazing women and seen some great work from the female students that I go to school with.
One of the major things that stuck with me from this past festival was something that Melina Matsoukas, our woman of the year, said: “You shouldn’t hire someone just because they are a woman. You should hire them because they do good work”. Fusion is all about showing the world that there are countless, capable women out there who deserve to be praised, and let alone hired for the jobs that they do. Many of the women on the panels this year spoke of a time in the not so distant past that they were the only women included on sets or in the writers’ rooms because they were just there to provide the “female voice” or the “female perspective”. Today, they were happy to report that more and more women are slowly entering these positions and leveling the playing field.
Although closing the gender gap in such an old industry is not going to happen over night, it is something that will continue to get better and better as more women work hard, share their voice and their stories, and fight to be included. After I graduate and enter the real world, I hope to continue to spread the values that Fusion has taught me. And I hope that I see the day where we have movie sets and writer’s rooms full of men and women working equally.
If you’d like to learn more about the Festival itself and watch some of the panels from this year and the previous festivals, please click the links below!