Issues examined by panelists and attendees of the event are now being addressed in the male-dominated world of natural history filmmaking.
In September 2019, the VII Academy hosted a conference for women only, “Nature Through Her Eyes / Nature: Le Regard Feminin” in Perpignan, France. A first of its kind, the event brought together for professional women from the film industry as well as natural history experts all working alongside in wildlife and the natural world. Cinematographers, producers, directors, technicians, scientists, and legal experts came together for panel discussions, small group workshops, and screenings. In between sessions the women had time to network, and, to our delight, have formed lasting professional partnerships.
Erica Francis Rugabandana, a Tanzanian filmmaker, met Producer Vanessa Berlowitz of Wildstar Films at the Festival. That connection led to Erica being trained by cinematographer Justine Evans, who also attended the festival, on Vanessa’s new landmark series for National Geographic, entitled “Queens.”Jacqueline Farmer, filmmaker and conference director, interviewed the attendees and guest speakers and has produced a 4-part series for Curiosity Stream looking at the role of women in filmmaking, photography and writing about the natural world. “Nature Through Her Eyes” premieres March 8 and will be available on demand.
Perhaps most impactfully, the Nature Through Her Eyes festival is working on creating real change within the industry. There are now ongoing conversations with French and international broadcasters about DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) policy, and how to incorporate better representation of women and people from the majority world in front of and behind the camera on natural history films. The festival also led to a workshop on industry contractual and legal practices run by Michelle Bruce in partnership with Jackson Wild.
The VII Academy is planning a second in-person edition of the festival in 2022.