MUDBOUND film team at the Mind the Gap Summit (L-R: Tamar-kali, Mako Kamitsuna, Dee Rees, Stephanie Lampkin (moderator), Rachel Morrison, Angie Wells. Photo Credit: Kimberly Scarsella

What would it be like if half of all directors, cinematographers, and producers were women? If we no longer described anyone as a “female” filmmaker? If audiences were able to experience through film the full mosaic of personal stories that are out there in the world? The inspiring and diverse participants at the Mill Valley Film Festival’s inaugural Mind the Gap Summit in October were asking these questions, and working together to create answers.

The Mill Valley Film Festival is getting closer to this inclusive vision every year as we make progress toward our 50/50 by 2020 goal. This year MVFF featured 44% female filmmakers. But Mind the Gap, our gender equity initiative now in its third year, goes far beyond the numbers. “With MVFF honors to directors Greta Gerwig and Dee Rees and actresses Kristin Scott Thomas and Holly Hunter, our 40th proved to be an extraordinary year for great female talents,” said MVFF Director of Programming Zoë Elton.


Photos © Tommy Lau Photography

Mind The Gap: Women | Film | Tech is a festival-wide celebration of women in film and a call to action for more and better representation of women both in front of and behind the camera. When looking for Mind the Gap films, MVFF programmers track three things: women directors, women creatives (directors, writers, producers) and story: Are the stories female forward? Do  the female characters have agency? What we found this year is a treasure trove of female-powered stories, from Jane, a documentary about pioneering primatologist Jane Goodall, to Mudbound, winner of this year’s audience favorite award, which tells the story of two families, one white, one black, who warily cohabit a farm in the Jim Crow south. Closing night featured actor-turned-director Greta Gerwig with her breathtaking debut feature, Lady Bird, a film whose central relationship is that of a mother and daughter.

The Mind the Gap Summit on October 7th brought together leaders in film and tech for a powerful day of presentations and discussion. Producers Blye Faust (Spotlight), Osnat Shurer (Moana); actress Connie Nielsen (Wonder Woman); director Catherine Hardwicke (Twilight); and director Dee Rees with the heads of department from her film Mudbound were among those leading a truly electrifying day. The Summit was standing room only and we look forward to building it in future years. Check out some of the day’s most inspiring moments in the video below.