Girls Impact the World Brings Inspiration From Across the Globe
“If you educate a man, you educate an individual. If you educate a woman, you educate a village.” This apt quote was used by panelists, filmmakers and festival leadership throughout the Girls Impact the World Film Festival at the St. Andrew’s Dell Fine Arts Center in Austin. On Sunday, April 14, filmmakers with a passion to speak on the issues that women and girls face across the world and how their resiliency powers them through the most difficult of times, gathered together to showcase their films relating to those issues.
There are always new and innovative ways to impact the world and the girls impact the world film festival was nothing short of that. The festival started with Effie Brown who is the producer of Project Greenlight and Dear White People, Gay Gaddis who is the founder and CEO of women-owned advertising agency T3, and Nioma Narissa Sadler, co-owner of Traditional Medicinals and founder of Women Serve. Each of these women spoke on the importance of storytelling and how to be successful women and entrepreneurs in the film industry.
“Being a female entrepreneur and actually giving opportunity to women and amplifying their voices in this way is really important,” said Effie Brown, who highlights the importance of the films created by young filmmakers across the globe and took notes of what the panel had to say. “It’s important to realize who gets to tell our story; there will be people and circumstances and challenges that will knock you off your block unless you are clear on your why and that is why you are doing what you are doing. Only you can tell it with the authenticity and integrity because there will be people out there who project who they think your story is.”
Attendees transitioned to the first showcase of films of the day where viewers got to see films that told powerful stories of beauty standards, violence towards women, inequity in the work force and much more. After the screening, guests had the opportunity to meet and mingle with filmmakers and panelists alike and have open discussions about what the festival and their films meant to them.
Amanda Gordon, a 19-year-old filmmaker from New York University and of one of the winning films of the evening, “The Skin Tone Role”, created and directed a film that touches on how during childhood there is an unspoken rule that the “skin tone” crayon was automatically thought to be the apricot color crayon. “I wanted to tell my story and I feel like it has made a positive impact because white people have come up to me and said how they never thought of it that way and people of color have said they’ve experienced something similar,” Gordon said to Latinitas. “This is a form of a micro-aggression. I think it’s important to make it more of a whimsical manner so that the visual setup is more pleasant and palatable to consume and storytelling as a medium as a general set up instead of shouting opinions creates better connections to each others’ experiences.”
Guests sat down for the second showcase of films of the evening where the audience saw films that talked about double standards of beauty, alliances of men and women, the gender gap in STEM-related careers, and mental health. The festival was the first ever film festival attended by some of the filmmakers, including Kent-State senior, Bobbi Broome, creator of one of the finalist films called “Make Me Divine.” “I’m really excited to be here. I would’ve never imagined being picked as a finalist,” she said. She continued on to talk about her film and the importance of how the way one builds their confidence begins in one’s childhood and the way certain styles and looks make women of color seem less professional. “I just wanted to make sure [her film] was as real as possible and that others could see themselves in my story,” she said. “If you’re five and you’re already feeling less confident than you should be feeling as five year old then that just continues on into your adult life until you recognize that these patterns are unhealthy and you need to change them.”
The second panel of the evening introduced another set of barrier-breaking women that included Effie Brown, Edna Adan who is the founder of Edna Adan’s Hospital in Somaliland, Elizabeth Avellan, co-owner and vice president of Troublemaker Studios, and founder and CEO of VIDA, Umaimah Mendhro. These dynamic women spoke on their experiences as women climbing up the ladder of success and how through their determination they were able to open doors for other women and be an example for others.
“Yes, I am a girl but my brain is like everybody else’s. If I failed, I failed because I did not try hard enough. If I succeeded, it was because I love learning and I was passionate about what I was learning,” Adan said of the importance of equality of women in the workforce. “I stuck to my grounds because my presence was keeping the door open for women and if I threw in the towel and went back to England and said ‘they’re not paying me here I’m going somewhere else’ then that door would’ve remained shut to women.”
Attendees left inspired after the Leadership and Vision panel and fired up interesting conversations across the event while taking pictures at the Red Carpet part of the evening, listening to soothing music by local Austin musicians and indie-folk group, MUCH2MUCH.
“I feel that if I inspire one more Latina to find their best self and their best abilities and encourage them is a winner for me,” Elizabeth Avellan said about the film festival and its impact on young women filmmakers and other women. “I know by being in festivals and giving workshops and talks, somebody will take the words and be inspired.”
As the evening came to an end, guests enjoyed a performance by up-and-coming artist, Abir, who performed her debut EP, MINT. This was followed by a motivational talk with Ibtihaj Muhammed, who is the first Muslim American woman to compete with a hijab for the USA Fencing team at the Olympics. “I am my own competition. You’re working so hard that you want to be better than who you were yesterday,” Muhammed said.
Panelists and judges presented the winners of the evening followed by a closing reception for V.I.P ticket holders and filmmakers.
The event left attendees feeling motivated and enthusiastic, as detailed by filmmaker finalist and winner, Amanda Gordon. “I’m so happy I came here. I am inspired being around all these type of people and filmmakers it really feeds my soul and makes me so much more energized to go back and create more,” she exclaimed.