Monmouth Film Festival Stays Chivalrous Lifting the Gates for Female Knights

Monmouth Film Festival (MFF) not only stands by igniting and experiencing imagination but by igniting support in the areas of the industry where the door remains ajar instead of fully open. MFF maintains an effort to support and encourage women in the entertainment industry by including films that have a strong female influence whether in crew, creation or premise and by choosing successful women in the industry to speak to audiences in its annual panel. The dream makers and engineers for a female presence in the industry have taken note of MFF and its embraced encouragement of women while making an additional effort to take that ajar door right off its hinges.

Brittany Rostron is among these female leaders, from experiencing her own share of closed doors to breaking into the industry in various forms as Location Coordinator, Production Assistant, Co-producer, Production Coordinator, to name a few, in recognizable films such as Men in Black 3, The Smurfs, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Revolutionary Road, etc. She has gone from Head of Production at Cutter Productions to founding her own non-profit Organization named FACES (Female Artistic and Commercial Entrepreneur Support) - their mission aims to increase the number of female voices in film, TV, and digital media by helping women break into and develop successful careers in those industries. FACES fully supports MFF making it clear they will be in attendance this August and are excited to hear the female voices MFF has brought to the table including two of this year’s panelists Jenna Ricker (Film Producer and Director) and Jen Fineran (Documentary Filmmaker & Emmy-nominated Editor).

Both these women have made homes for themselves in the glittering world of story telling and visual wonder. “Entertainment should be a reflection of what we see,- the world we know and the one in which we wish to live…” MFF’s Communication Director, Lea Ruwaldt states, “and these two women ring true to that.”

Jen Fineran has edited several award-winning documentaries including Emily Kassie’s Academy award-winning I Married my Family’s Killer, while Jenna Ricker wrote, directed and produced her first feature film, Ben’s Plan. A coming of age drama that led to her being honored with the Mira Nair Award for Rising Female Filmmaker. MFF is excited to have these two accomplished women share their stories of success and beginnings with audiences and upcoming artists as well as established ones who also understand that the female influence is just starting to smash through the doors of Hollywood.

When asked, “Do you think the content a festival chooses to promote can help encourage women in the industry? How and why?” Brittany Rostron answered, “It’s obviously amazing when festivals choose to showcase work by women so that other women are able to see their female colleagues achieving a level of success that they too can aspire to reach. I do, however, think it is important for festivals not to go overboard with highlighting that it is “good work by women.” Good work is good work, whether it’s made by a man or a woman.”

A wonderful point which highlights one of MFF’s successes as they make an effort to create an equal space for all to exist within while still helping encourage and develop female careers.

MFF’s Communications Director believes, “having organizations such as FACES in support of our festival reaches beyond merely sharing content but building a bridge for how the future will create it -” When asked how having leaders like Brittany Rostron present would make a difference, “It is obvious - these are the women who are creating doors where there were none and understand the struggle from the ground up. What they teach to others is invaluable, and I for one, know combining forces to create a well-rounded festival with support on all angles, including female presence in the industry, is the best way to create content that transcends time. Thinking about the very first man behind the camera, even as just an experiment, wasn't the goal to create something immortal, to share with future generations. And if so, isn’t that the true dream of film to represent every voice in a way that it moves with us so we are ever-growing.”

MFF Founder and President Nicholas Marchese who started this as by filmmakers for filmmakers is creating that dream. Seeing his intuitive and being asked “What impact do you think filmmakers can have on upcoming artists in the industry in terms of closing the gender gap?” Brittany Rostron also, agreed, “I think filmmakers can help close the gender gap in two specific ways. First, they can support new work by women. It’s important for women to support each other, but it may be even more crucial for men to come out and support them, to help break the stereotype that men don’t go see “women’s films.” And secondly, men and women alike should hire women. Women writers, directors, gaffers, camera operators, all roles. There needs to be more opportunities open to women in all areas of filmmaking to truly close the gender gap.”

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