Girls in Film is an international collective and platform to support emerging women/femme/non-binary filmmakers and GiF South Africa is an extension of the GiF community/platform, creating support structures for a new generation of under-represented filmmakers on the continent. The ambassadors for GiF SA are Galerekwe 'Gale' Maimane, Katya Abedian and Hallie Haller who are film directors and storytellers based in Johannesburg. We speak to the young directors and producer Julie Machin about the potential impact of the platform in increasing inclusivity and representation.
What do you hope the impact of Girls in Film will be specifically in the South African film industry? What do you hope can be changed in the current landscape through this platform?
Gale: I think for me seeing real diversity in the people that make up the South African film industry. Seeing less exclusion and more young/ POC/femmes/non-binary folk/LGBTIQA+ people working in and making films that tell their stories.
We (GiF SA) want to make space(s) for people to learn and share experiential knowledge. Holding space for the community to grow so that filmmakers create networks and collaborations.
As a self-taught filmmaker, do you feel that the industry is open and thoroughly representing fellow filmmakers who haven’t received formal film education from tertiary institutions? How do you hope that Girls in Film will give opportunities to other self-taught filmmakers, like you, to share their stories?
Katya: Yes and no.
I think our generation is becoming more resourceful and realizing that we have to open doors for ourselves and each other, that there’s no guarantee or assurance in life after tertiary education or formal education.
I do feel like if you work hard enough you can create spaces and opportunities, I don’t think it’s that much easier whether or not you’ve attended a formal film school, because in this industry, as long as you have skills, work, a good character and vision to speak for yourself, that’s all it comes down to.
My hope is for GiF SA to be a resourceful learning mine, from which self-taught artists can come together to share their struggles and learn from each other. Where they can learn how to pitch and fund their projects. Where they can share their work and receive feedback. Where they can connect to others and create work and friendship relationships. I think everyone needs a good mentor, someone to bounce work off and to be encouraged. I hope that’s what this space will create more and more with time for young filmmakers because their stories need to be told.
Why did you specifically choose South Africa as the next place to launch the Girls in Film platform? And how did you decide on who the GiF SA ambassadors are?
The process has been organic. I (Julie Machin), have a relationship with the country (and a deep love for the SA creative scene and music). End of 2017, I stayed in Johannesburg for 6 weeks. I met amazing souls and creative minds like Bee Diamondhead and Zandi Tisani. We decided to host an event at the Bioscope to discuss young women spaces, race & politics in the South African film and creative industry. It was a great night of talk and screening. From there we came back to meet more women and non-binary folks in the industry in 2018, and earlier this year we got offered support if we were to launch a chapter in SA. Gale, Katya and Hallie are the embodiment of what GiF is. Their energy, their creativity, the work they're doing are paving the path to a different way to approach filmmaking, out of the usual and patriarchal settings, bringing fresh ideas. It's really exciting to see such powerful women leading the new generation of filmmakers.
What kind of projects can we expect from GiF in the near future?
Hallie: Projects that lead to visibility and valuable networks. We're focusing on creating pathways to opportunity and collaboration. And that involves screenings, talks, virtual panels - we'll evolve as we go but that's the starting point
Photography: Justice Mukheli
Interview: Thando Khumalo