WeTalk — Image Matters: Women in the Media

Documentary director Ondi Timoner sits down with three successful media figures to discuss female representation on our screens.

After a successful launch at SXSW, WeTalk went to Tribeca with four extraordinary, thought-provoking panels, anchored by women-directed films premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival in partnership with the Roxy Cinema and Dell.

WeTalk Tribeca kicked off with their first panel, Image Matters: Women in Media, featuring Alysia Reiner (Orange is the New Black), Andrea Nevins (Tiny Shoulders: Rethinking Barbie), and the Huffington Post‘s Christy Havranek.

The women conversed on the power of media and its ability to forge conversation and shift cultural standards. Reiner speaks on the importance of displaying three-dimensional females on screen. She mentions that being on a show like Orange is the New Black, which portrayed raw, complex, and diverse females on screen, inspired her to make films like Egg. As a producer and an actress, Alysia is committed to not only making films with strong and complex female characters but also to hiring a predominantly female crew.

As photo director for the Huffington Post, Christy Havranek hires female photographers as she stresses that having a woman behind the camera not only informs how the viewer interprets the image, but also how the subject matter is shot: “there is an inherent empathy that I think women have.”

Andrea Nevins’ documentary Tiny Shoulders: Rethinking Barbie displays the untold history and evolution of Barbie, specifically from the perspective of its manufacturer Mattel as they make a drastic shift and reinvent themselves as a company to broaden their product and embody a more diverse reflection of the every woman. Nevins mentions that a broader goal in her documentary was to display and question the singularity of the beauty myth. She came to realize throughout her research that “Women have a little bit more say than we ever had before about how we look and about how we are portrayed… we no longer have to be this one very white stereotypical version of the female that is a woman through a male gaze. We can now take on that gaze ourselves and look at how we want to be portrayed at as women.”

Ondi opens up the conversation by questioning the balance of “knowing our femininity as feminists.” Andrea mentions that this is a huge question that stresses the importance of redefining the definition of beauty and how the media (specifically the male engineered media) portrays females.

The panel ends as the women not only recognize the importance of hiring and portraying three-dimensional women in media on both ends of the camera but also reaffirm that this has been a constant source of dialogue over the past several years and that now more than ever it is time we turn this conversation into action. As Ondi concludes, “How do we turn this conversation from #metoo to #wedo.”

Photo Credit: Jolene Siana
Sponsored by Dell

Producer/director Ondi Timoner has the rare distinction of winning the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival twice. Her 2004 doc, Dig!, explores the star-crossed rivalry of the Dandy Warhols and the Brian Jonestown Massacre, while her 2009 top prize-winner, We Live in Public, examines privacy in the virtual age through Internet visionary Josh Harris’ social experiments. Her company A Total Disruption releases weekly short docs about thought leaders and doers who are transforming our lives through technology.