In #MeToo era, Minnesota's female filmmakers find strength in realizing they're 'not alone'
In black-and-white thrillers from the '40s, a "femme fatale" was a dame whose treacherous bangs covered one eye while she duped and betrayed the hero. Despite its punny name, Film Fatales is about the opposite qualities: support, compassion, collaboration. Some of its members do, however, have bangs.
Started five years ago, when New York-based director Leah Meyerhoff invited colleagues to brainstorm a project over dinner, Film Fatales has become a global organization for women who have at least one movie or TV directing credit (nonbinary and transgender directors also are welcome). Its 15 chapters offer networking opportunities, advocacy and a database of resources, inspired by a simple premise.
"There simply are not enough women filmmakers," says Meyerhoff. "Ava DuVernay [Oscar-nominated director of 'A Wrinkle in Time'] cannot mentor all of the hundreds and hundreds of women who want to make films."
At Film Fatales' monthly meetings, they mentor each other. The local chapter formed last year when Melody Gilbert, who had been a member when she lived in Chicago, reached out to women she knew and sort-of knew. Following the national format that begins with each woman taking a turn to offer project updates, followed by another round in which they ask for advice, collaborators or equipment they need, the local group met for the first time on the rooftop of Gilbert's Uptown home.