Vail Film Festival celebrates women in the industry; 3 female filmmakers talk about what it’s like for them |

Vail Film Festival celebrates women in the industry; 3 female filmmakers talk about what it’s like for them

'For me as a female, I just do what I do, and I make films'

The Vail Film Festival returns Thursday to Sunday for its 16th year and will again be celebrating female filmmakers in the industry. Before the Me Too movement in 2017, the Vail Film Festival was focusing on promoting women in film.

“Even before we started focusing on female filmmakers, we had a lot of great female filmmakers premiere their films and attend the festival,” said Sean Cross, board member of the Vail Film Festival.

According to Women and Hollywood, an advocacy group fighting for gender diversity in the film industry, the statistics are staggering for women in film. On the top 100 grossing films of 2018, women represented:

  • 4% of directors
  • 15% of writers
  • 3% of cinematographers
  • 18% of producers
  • 18% of executive producers
  • 14% of editors

“Traditionally women have just not been hired in those key roles,” Cross said. “We wanted to try to help in whatever we could to change that. I think it is changing, and that’s great to see.”

Over the years, the Vail Film Festival has added more events to support female filmmakers and how they get their films to market.

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Here’s what three filmmakers attending the Vail Film Festival had to say about being a female filmmaker:

Haroula Rose, ‘Once Upon a River’

Haroula Rose
Special to the Daily

Filmmaker Haroula Rose is one of four female filmmakers on the Vail Film Festival Panel Discussion on Saturday, moderated by the Vail Daily’s Tricia Swenson.

“I’m pumped to meet these other women on the panel,” Rose said.

She heard about the Vail Film Festival from Molly McGlynn, a filmmaker featured at last year’s festival.

“I’m so happy she told me about it,” she said.

The idea for “Once Upon a River” came from the best-selling book by Bonnie Jo Campbell and also features a young actress making her debut, Kennedy DelaCerna. It tells the odyssey of a teenage heroine.

“You always see ‘Into the Wild’ or ‘Huck Finn’ and all these young characters that are guys, and she’s a girl that’s able to do the same things,” Rose said of the main character in her film.

The filmmaker said she is thankful for her instincts about people, choosing to work with people who are supportive and engaged in the material.

“I don’t know what it would have been like if I was a guy,” she said. “I don’t know how to compare it really because I’ve never been a dude.”

Louise Woehrle, ‘Stalag Luft III’

Louise Woehrle and executive producer Jay Strommen.
Special to the Daily

“It’s a male-dominated industry, or it was,” filmmaker Louise Woehrle said. “I’ve been at this a little while. It’s hard to gain the respect of your male counterparts. You have to prove yourself more than a man does.”

Working on “Stalag Luft III,” Woehrle said she learned how to lead and articulate a vision.

“It’s pretty cool when you can lead a team and they respect you,” she said.

Woehrle noted that she used to have more trouble with fellow women in the industry, “at least it used to be that way. I love that I’m seeing that start to change.”

Lise Raven, ‘Snaeland’

Lise Raven
Special to the Daily

“I think it’s fantastic that Vail has made it a point to focus on women filmmakers,” said filmmaker Lise Raven. “It not only gives us as filmmakers an opportunity to see each other’s work, spend time together and listen to each other’s stories, but I think it also show the community that comes to the festival as well as the world the quality of our work.”

Raven’s entire creative team for “Snaeland” was made up of all females, some of them joining Raven on the trip to Vail. Raven is part of an international group of female filmmakers.

“It just worked out that way,” she said of her team of women. “They were the most talented people that I wanted to work with.”

Raven said she recognizes that females are underrepresented in filmmaking as directors and that she has encountered “every situation that you read about or hear about.” However, it has not deterred her from pursuing her passion.

“For me as a female, I just do what I do,” she said. “And I make films.”

See their films

  • Haroula Rose: “Once Upon a River,” showing Friday and Saturday
  • Louise Woehrle: “Stalag Luft III,” showing Saturday and Sunday
  • Lise Raven: “Snaeland,” showing Saturday (world premiere) and Sunday

More information: Films are shown at CineBistro located in Vail Village’s Solaris Plaza. Visit for tickets and more about the festival.

Assistant editor Ross Leonhart can be reached at 970-748-2984 and Follow him on Instagram at colorado_livin_on_the_hill.

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