Filmmakers talk success and gender

Londiwe Dlomo Journalist
Liesl Tommy
Liesl Tommy
Image: Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images

“I think in terms of how far we have come, I don’t think we are even remotely as far as we should be. We have neither equality nor equity and until we have both of these things it’s all lip service. I feel like I’m working way too hard, to get people in the room with me,” says SA born director Liesel Tommy.

Tommy directed the upcoming Aretha Franklin biopic Respect which stars Academy award winner Jennifer Hudson.

Tommy was in conversation with Sowetan editor Nwabisa Makunga ahead of Women’s Day on Sunday.

The webinar was joined by Helen Kunn,CEO of Indigenous Films, and actress and comedian Tumi Morake, and discussed the topic of women working in the film and television industry.“I t’s 2020 and I am still one of the firsts, I’m often one of the firsts that looks like me in a room, ” Tommy said.

“I’m still dealing with really backwards men who make assumptions because they haven’t had enough of me that they’ve had to work with, which is why having my own film was such a joy, because I could surround myself with really progressive thinkers… you really have to dismantle the issues of race,class, gender, gender bias, homophobia... all of it. And that means you have to topple the people in charge.”

The webinar was hosted by Empire Entertainment in partnership with the Sowetan Women’s Club.Morake, who is currently in the US due to the global pandemic,was quizzed on her experience as one of the pioneering women in comedy.“I’ve been blessed; it’s been a mixture of my own talent and a South African audience that said, ‘we are waiting to hear what you have to say’.”

Morake, who is also a scriptwriter and recently starred in Seriously Single, an SA rom -com showing on Netflix, said that women film makers’ magic is their “lightness of touch”.

“The re’s something about the way we tell our stories that just hits you in the heart.”

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