Your goal of championing diversity in filmmaking makes the selection of Geena Davis to deliver the keynote speech at “A Decade of Docs” all the more fitting.
PF: She’s really an icon for going against the grain. Her non-profit, the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, requires the town and the industry she works in to take a deep look at itself and acknowledge that it’s not representing women in media or dealing with issues of gender. For someone in her position who is so highly successful to decide that she’s going to devote a good amount of her energy toward building this institute is a level of risk-taking that I find absolutely remarkable, commendable and also inspirational, particularly for women. That, in and of itself, made her our top choice. It’s just great that she agreed to be a part of this and to come and speak about the history of her fame and how it morphed into this broader recognition for work that, in many ways, she feels will be even more long-lasting.
Tell me about how Sarah McLachlan became involved in the event as well.
SC: What Paula was saying about Geena is true for Sarah as well. One of the reasons why we were able to bring her on is because we’re involved in a movie about her traveling music festival, Lilith Fair. Sarah is producing it as well as Dan Levy from “Schitt’s Creek,” and we’ve taken a big role in helping to get the movie produced. Sarah saw this problem in the music industry where women were just not being given their due, so she decided to do what we did—she took control and changed the landscape by organizing the Lilith Fair concert tours, and that, to us, really spoke to what we are really all about.
PF: Both of these women really used the power of community to demonstrate that they have power equal to or beyond that of the industry that they were going up against. I love that idea that in both cases, it’s about collecting people together in order to attack a problem that is much bigger than any one individual can tackle. That, to me, reflects exactly what we set out to do from the beginning.
SC: Sarah also took her recognition and notoriety and she started a school in Canada for young musicians that is not only seen as prestigious in producing some of the great young musicians, but it is a community that she created. From our standpoint, we felt that one of the reasons why the movie was so important to us was because recapturing that moment in time that people don’t even think about now is part of speaking truth to history.