La Femme International Film Festival was launched to support women of ALL colors. Leslie LaPage, Founder of LAFIFF, has been a successful producer, writer, and director in the industry. But it has been LA Femme that has driven her and her vision to allow those in the industry to see the multitude of projects being created by women that have been neglected over the years.
Although the percentage of roles for women in the film industry has increased, there is still a lack of representation. Leslie LaPage knows how hard it is to succeed in Hollywood as a woman of color and survive reverse colorism within her community.
What are you most excited about for this year’s La Femme International Film Festival?
Leslie LaPage: We have a wide selection of films from all over the world ranging from psycho-thriller to horror, to romantic comedy. The main thing I hear often is that we offer a very complete range of film types.
It surprises most audiences as film festivals tend to program what they like and not what a global audience demands in programming. That is why we are very successful in programming a full range of genres.
Other ventures that the film festival provides are special events, powerhouse panels, special screenings, Q&A’s, and award shows. This year the event will be hybrid. We screen at a state-of-the-art theatre and virtually which makes this available to all audiences worldwide. In addition, our panels offer a dynamic understanding of filmmaking.
“If equality truly existed in the film industry, then I would stop this film festival”
What would you like to see more of in the film industry?
Leslie LaPage: As LA Femme moves into the next few years, it plans to expand its platform so that more women in the industry and from around the world can have the benefit of taking their film to the next level through increased distribution outlets, more key positions in the entertainment industry and more recognition as artistic creators emerging as leaders in the industry. Our goal is to remain a step ahead through exemplary programming, networking, and panel events. A classic professional atmosphere will create a sense of opportunity for participants. LA Femme International Film Festival is By Women, and for Everyone.
Why is it important to have women-led film festivals?
Leslie LaPage: We give voices to the content creators that don’t have voices. This festival is about changing the demographic and the percentages so we can see more equality in the film industry and to get more authentic stories out there by female content creators.
It is the amazing success of supporting and nurturing 1,000s of filmmakers over 17 years that makes us special and really the first to recognize the need of women filmmakers. You see, we were supporting women before it was COOL!
What do you think is the future of females in the film industry?
Leslie LaPage: As of the last few years, the industry has started to shift a bit. People are a bit more open, but we still have a long way to go. As the industry has not broken out of its systemic narcissistic ways both within the studio system or the treatment of others.
Until all the old guard is dead, and a new regime is in place the overthrow of the inherent problems cannot be solved. But even the current movements of equality and more diversity Caucasian women, women over 40, ageism, racism are still ruled by those in power who are NOT people of color or women.
As a woman of color who is not accepted as a woman of color because of my skin, I am still fighting the fight for equality in the industry which has a long way to go to make it fair for filmmakers of all ages, sexual preferences, identifications, and colors.
What advice would you have for women who aspire to start a film festival?
Leslie LaPage: Study and for God’s sake learn the BUSINESS of filmmaking and stop making excuses to no know HOW THE BUSINESS WORKS as this is the downfall of filmmakers. They always default to “I’m a creative” as if this gives them a hall pass in middle school. That is a lazy way of handling your career. When I come across a filmmaker with this attitude… I run! Because most of them are not organized and understand what it takes to have a career in this sometimes rough and troubled business of entertainment.
Stop letting people tell you cannot succeed! But most importantly educate yourself as we women must be smarter than men to make it, which means we need to know ALL aspects of the business, creation, and marketing. Stop pretending you are the worm and be the hawk!
ABOUT LA FEMME INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
The LA Femme International Film Festival is now in its 17th year as one of Los Angeles’ premiere film festivals dedicated to celebrating and promoting female artists both in front of and behind the camera. In addition to bestowing awards in multiple categories, from short subjects to documentaries to commercials, to features and music videos. Festival Sponsors include Sony Diversity & Inclusion, Stephens College, WGA Women’s Committee, SAG. LAFIFF 17th Annual Festival is October 14-17, 2021, with over 150+ films MADE BY WOMEN in categories such as film, documentary, shorts, animation, web series, commercial, and music videos.
For more information please visit https://lafemme.org/
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Multimedia Creative and Personality Tammy Reese is an award-winning Writer and Journalist. Writing and Directing short films on social issues to spread awareness through the arts gained Tammy the Makers: Women Who Make America Award honor on International Women's Day 2019. Tammy currently serves on the Communications Committee for New York Women In Film and Television. She is also the Founder and Owner of Visionary Minds Public Relations and Media.