Princess Grace Tribute in Monaco shines light on female filmmakers

Toby E Boshak, Cecilia Peck, Dani Carew, Bridget Carpenter, Susan Youssef and Daniela Amavia.
Toby E Boshak, Cecilia Peck, Dani Carew, Bridget Carpenter, Susan Youssef and Daniela Amavia.

A Tribute to Princess Grace of Monaco, in association with the Princess Grace Foundation-USA, took place this weekend in the Principality with special screenings at the Princess Grace Theatre and a panel discussion free to the public.

Two movies – The Country Girl (1954), starring Grace Kelly who won an Oscar for Best Actress, and Bing Crosby, Saturday at 6pm, and Brave Miss World (2013) a documentary by Cecilia Peck, daughter of the late Gregory Peck, Sunday at 6pm – were part of the homage, which was initiated by Monaco resident Dani Carew to highlight the contributions Grace Kelly made, and continues to make through her foundation, to support emerging artists.

Prince Albert, Princess Caroline, Princess Stephanie, and her daughter Camille Gottlieb. Photo: Facebook Prince's Palace of Monaco
Prince Albert, Princess Caroline, Princess Stephanie, and her daughter Camille Gottlieb. Photo: Facebook Prince’s Palace of Monaco

Prince Albert, Princess Caroline, Princess Stephanie, and her daughter Camille Gottlieb, attended The Country Girl viewing on Saturday night.

A conference was held at Stars’n’Bars at 11 am Saturday with a panel of dynamic female film writers and directors moderated by Dani Carew. This same group met again Sunday, 10:30 am, at the Princess Grace theatre, for a discussion open to the public.

The speakers included Toby E Boshak, Executive Director of the Princess Grace Foundation-USA; Cecilia Peck; TV and screenplay writer Bridget Carpenter, whose musical adaptation of Freaky Friday is currently on tour; actress, writer and director Daniela Amavia; and filmmaker Susan Youssef, a recipient of the Princess Grace Foundation-USA award in 2003, whose current second feature, Majour and the Flying Headscarf, is also supported by the Foundation.

The dialogue, both intellectual and frank, touched upon not only the lack of women in key positions within the film industry but also that female producers and directors who have a proven track record do not receive the same financial support as their male counterparts.

“There’s a perception that film work by women is not as commercial even though women make up the majority of moviegoers,” Susan Youssef shared.

As Daniela Amavia put it, “It’s incredibly hard for women to raise money to make films. When a woman makes a film and it doesn’t make the money back, she goes to Director’s Jail and doesn’t come out for a very long time. If a man makes the same kind of flop, he gets another chance.”

And, she adds, if a man makes a reasonable million-dollar budget film, he’s given a Jurassic Park next. That never happens for a woman.

The topic of #metoo, the social media campaign launched post-Harvey Weinstein scandal that denounces sexual assault and harassment, was also discussed, with the panel weighing in on whether awareness will translate into change.

“On the executive level it would be an affirmative action if when two people apply for a job and one is a female, then the job should go to the woman or we’ll never see the numbers change,” Daniela Amavia suggested.

“Most of us are mothers of daughters here and it is possible to show by example,” Cecilia Peck commented, “and counter-programme those messages of over-sexualisation of girls, and also the influence and affluence girls aspire to through materialism.

“It’s important to bring our kids to films and museum exhibitions made by women to give them the other message across that woman can accomplish everything they want and be empowered. This is where the Princess Grace Foundation is a shining example, giving women the opportunity to make their work in a safe environment.”

Since its inception, the non-profit, publicly-supported Princess Grace Foundation-USA, which celebrates its 35th anniversary this year, has awarded €860,000 (over $1 million) annually to up-and-coming talent in theatre, dance, and film by awarding scholarships, apprenticeships and fellowships. To date, nearly 800 recipients have been awarded.

Toby E Boshak articulated, “Many of our Foundation award winners are becoming working artists and a large portion of them are department chairs in universities and artistic directors of companies and so we are helping to put people in places of leadership that are then going to nurture and enable the next generation of artists.”

“Women can’t win awards if the work isn’t there,” declared Bridget Carpenter.

Article first published November 11, 2017.


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