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'Half The Picture': This new documentary shows how 50 women filmmakers broke into Hollywood




Amy Adrion (R) during one of the more than 50 interviews she did for
Amy Adrion (R) during one of the more than 50 interviews she did for "Half the Picture."
Sundance/Amy Adrion

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The ongoing story of sexual misconduct in Hollywood will surely be in the air at the Sundance Film Festival in January.

It’s the film world’s biggest showcase of independent films — and it’s also where Harvey Weinstein carried out some of his alleged assaults.

The list of films playing at the festival has been announced and among them is a documentary titled “Half the Picture.” Director Amy Adrion looks at the long history of systemic discrimination against women filmmakers – clear evidence of a patriarchy that feeds a culture where sexual harassment is carried out and tolerated in Hollywood.

For Adrion, having the premiere of "Half the Picture" at Sundance is appropriate:

So many of the women we interview in our film had their first films at Sundance, and that's where their careers started. There's a long history of Sundance having a very significant place in the careers of women directors — and in underrepresented directors in general. 

Since the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced its investigation into gender discrimination in Hollywood in May of 2016, Adrion's work on "Half the Picture" has gained momentum. She hasn't had trouble interviewing prominent filmmakers despite this being her first first feature documentary.

One of the first women I reached out to was Catherine Hardwicke. Immediately she got back to me and said, Yes. I'm in. I'm doing it. It's not because of me that she wanted to do it. It's because she is so on the front lines of this issue and so committed to this issue

The Frame's John Horn spoke with Adrion and they discussed making her film, director stereotypes, and the unconscious bias in Hollywood. 

Interview Highlights:

On men's ability to behave differently on set than women:

There's the whole male genius myth where you can act completely insane and berate people and throw things. And if you're passionate and if the movies are good, you're just a genius and everyone accepts it ... and women don't have a counterpart to that.

On why the documentary includes images of her behind the camera with a crew of mostly women:

We wanted to show what it looks like to make a movie. There can be mystique and mystery about what a director does and the magic of making movies. We wanted to show, Here I am as the director sitting on an apple box asking questions. Here are my two female [directors of photography] setting lights, here's our crew ... Making movies is craft and it's effort and it's passion and it's telling your stories, and so we wanted to show a window of what we look like doing that.

Daisy von Scherler Mayer was one of the many female directors interviewed in
Daisy von Scherler Mayer was one of the many female directors interviewed in "Half the Picture."
Sundance/Amy Adrion

On this film premiering in an unprecedented climate of sexual harassment in Hollywood:

This is a film that certainly explores the challenges that women directors face and, in some small part of the film, talks about sexual harassment. But this is not a film about the bad behavior of men. This is a film about the strength of women — about the artistry of women, about the perseverance of women. And, honestly, we've had to revise the edit to make sure that we are keeping the focus where we want the focus to be, which is on the women at the heart of the story.



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