Updated 2/18; 3:00 p.m.
Anna Feder, director of programming in the visual and media arts department, took six graduate students and three recent alumnae to the Sundance Film Festival this January on a trip exclusively for women.
Feder said the trip was not originally aimed towards one gender in particular, but only women happened to apply for the pilot trip last year. This gave her the idea to turn it into an opportunity solely for women in the master’s program.
“There’s nothing at the college from what I could see that was specifically promoting the work of female filmmakers and supporting female filmmakers,” Feder said.
The Women at Sundance initiative, an organization campaigning for gender equality in American cinema, reports that women direct four percent of the top 100 box office films, and that 25 percent of American directors at Sundance are female.
The group went to panels, screenings, and networked with others in the industry. Feder said that their schedules were largely self-designed, but that many went to events together.
Breakfast talks were an integral part of the program, according to Feder, who organized them. Filmmakers came to eat and discuss the industry with just the Emerson group. Dawn Porter, the director of Trapped, was one of the guests. Porter’s documentary, which follows a group of abortion providers facing complex laws designed to make block their services, won the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for social impact filmmaking.
Asher Coffield, a recent Emerson alumnae and affiliated faculty member in the visual and media arts department, attended the festival with the group.
“I think the great thing about this trip is you’re able to get a glimpse into this industry,” Coffield said. “To do that with other women, and to have that safe space—it’s great and it’s empowering.”
The group stayed in a rental condo that Feder said was within walking distance of Main Street, the festival’s center. Feder said they used the location to throw parties and network with Emerson alumni and other connections, including executives from HBO.
Feder said she’d like to open the trip to students in other majors, like those interested in film reporting or screenwriting. She said she wants to find ways to lessen costs for students, as they paid for themselves. She also wants to host larger networking events and establish an official relationship with the Sundance Film Festival.
“Out of this, I’m sure there’s going to be collaborations,” Feder said. “The networking starts with the women in the group and then expands from there.”
Correction 2/18: A previous version of this article referred to Anna Feder as programming manager in the visual and media arts department. Her title is actually director of programming.