Re: judges' statement - gender representation in exp film

From: Fred Camper (email suppressed)
Date: Sat Jun 24 2006 - 11:15:54 PDT

With all due respect to the judges, I would like to suggest that their
statement, even if sent to just Patrick Friel alone, is sadly mistaken
and deeply misinformed.

First, in his decade at Chicago Filmmakers, Friel has been extremely
open to work by women. If he has a gender bias, which I'd suspect if it
exists at all is very slight, it would be in favor of woman's work both
on principle and in terms of an interest in the kinds of subjects and
styles that are more often found in work by by women filmmakers.

He has been selecting films for Onion City for some years now, and
programming at Chicago Filmmakers for longer. Singling out one festival
seems like a serious mistake.

People who would do so should first make a study of random numbers. For
example, flip a coin 100 times and write down the results. Somewhere in
there will be a run of ten that results are mostly "heads." Assuming
that gender is not a factor in his selection, which I believe, and that
his selections are not "random" either, which I certainly believe, it
will come to pass that one year by simple randomness most of the best
films submitted are by one gender or the other. Perhaps that was this
year, and he did his usual fine job of selecting the best.

If one wanted to make a case for gender bias in Onion City, one would
have to start by examining the percentage of films by males and females
submitted each year versus the percentage shown, and look at the pattern
over many years.

Some years ago in Chicago the African American community complained that
there were only some 12 percent works by African Americans included in a
  juried survey exhibit of local artists, whereas Chicago is almost 40
per cent African American. But it turned out that of the artists
submitting, only 12 per cent were African American. The jury's selection
had perfectly matched the submissions. The ruckus continued and as a
result, that was the last year that exhibit was ever mounted. A
tradition many decades old ended there.

Even if a higher percentage of women submitted this year than the
percentage shown, that's only one year.

These complaints started almost four decades ago when indeed there was a
gender bias among many gallery owners in the art world, museum curators,
and perhaps film programmers too. I don't think that is the case today.
Indeed, just running through the better known film and video programmers
I can think of, a pretty high percentage of them are women themselves,
which makes this sort of gripe seem increasingly out of place.

Fred Camper

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