According to the Federation of Korean Movie Workers’ Union, women consist of only 0.78 percent of filmmaking staff. As the numbers clearly indicate the unequal working opportunities women confront in the field, many women have been speaking out about the unjust system, where female directors aren’t given the same opportunities as men in making a film and in receiving investment from companies.
Seeing that there is an urgent need to expand opportunities for women working in the film industry, three women – Kim Kkot-bi, Shin Hee-ju, and Park Hyo-sun – came together to form an organization called “Shooting Femi” in the hope of improving the labor conditions of women in the film industry. Though the three are no longer with the organization, there are currently about 10 members working in Shooting Femi.
Founded on Oct. 22, 2016, Shooting Femi has been actively fighting for equal rights for women and supporting women directors for their work to be recognized. Over the past two years, Shooting Femi held numerous discussion forums regarding ways for encouraging gender-equal working environments and for policies to root out sexual violence. Not only did they arrange forums autonomously, they also collaborate with various groups, such as the feminist book café “Doing,” with which they have been holding “Monthly Feminist Movie Night” since last November.
“For a long time, our team has been holding numerous small events but we wanted to do more, to allow more people to encounter movies that are about women and also made by women,” said An Jeong-yun, the steering committee member and the manager of the event sector. “So, we organized the 1st Seoul Independent Women’s Film Festival at the Cow & Dog screening facility to contribute toward helping women directors and staff to go mainstream. The whole process of planning and directing took seven intense months. At first, we wanted to hold the festival at a proper theater, but as there wasn’t enough financing, we had to change the location to a relatively cheaper facility where screenings were at least possible.”
Despite the financial difficulties, Shooting Femi was able to successfully hold the festival on Jan. 25 to 27. The event consisted of several screenings that were selected by Shooting Femi according to three criteria: a female director, more than half of the credits being women, and a women-related theme. Among the 252 entries, 16 films were screened at the festival and discussion session with the directors was proceeded alongside. Overall, more than 200 people participated in the event, and due to the success of their online crowdfunding, Shooting Femi was able to avoid budget deficit.
However, An still fears that the financial burden the members are facing will hinder them from furthering their projects. Though they are working ever so hard to expand opportunities for women workers in the film industry, they are receiving wages that don’t fairly compensate for their work.
“It is actually very burdensome for not being able to pay the members fairly as we know that those wages are underpayment and insufficient to live on,” An said. “This year, we plan to apply for formal group registration and open a Cash Management Service (CMS) to get regular sponsorship, in order to ease the burden.”
With the support, Shooting Femi hopes to carry out more projects and support victims of sexual violence. Also, providing their members with rightful payment is one of many goals the organization wishes to reach soon.
“I believe that there should be more compulsory policies that allow women filmmakers to have various positions within the film industry, such as the gender ratio quota system,” An commented. “We plan to continue the Women’s Film Festival, with a better location and more diverse contents. We hope more people will take interest in our upcoming projects and support women for their fair rights.”