attends the Amazon 2016 Summer TCA Press Tour at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on August 7, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California.

Nicole Holofcener thinks female-focused movie panels ‘need to stop’

Director Nicole Holofcener understands why female-focused cinematic panels are still needed, due to the continued under-representation of women behind the camera – which she alluded to in just such a panel at the Nantucket Film Festival last weekend – but she still hopes the day will come when the female-centric movie panels can stop.

“I’m very grateful to be here,” Holofcener said during the panel, titled “Women Behind the Words,” and which also featured Allison Williams and Michaela Watkins as panelists. “And I’m very proud to be a woman, but I feel like it has to stop. We have to stop all of this. We are just actors, writers and performers.

Those remarks were prompted by panel moderator Ophira Eisenberg, who said that, in the industry, “There’s this feeling that you’re going to be judged as a woman first and as a writer or director or artist second.”

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Holofcener later added, “It’s like we wouldn’t say ‘Jews behind the words,’ right? It would be offensive.” (Holofcener herself is Jewish, as is Eisenberg, who immediately joked about that panel title suggestion, “Maybe for Yom Kippur or something.”)

When asked about the gravity she feels about the representation of women on screen, Holofcener said, “I don’t think so because I would probably be paralyzed if I had that kind of sense of responsibility. No, I’m just writing things that I like and about characters that inspire me and interest me and I think they’re making a good story.

Holofcener is sensitive to the dismissive ways women filmmakers have been treated in the industry, however, recalling an incident in her life when a prominent industry insider told her to stop writing.

“I did a short film that was bad and we saw it and he said, ‘Maybe forget about directing.’ Or actually, “Do the director thing, stop writing.” I could tell you his name of him. I mean, we’re going to remember these people for the rest of our lives,” he said. “And I was an usher or whatever at the New York Film Festival. So I was backstage with Jim Jarmusch, who was a huge inspiration to me and a idol, and then I went to him and said: “Do You do you have some advice?’ And he said, ‘Don’t give up.’ It was like this. And I didn’t.

However, she thinks there has been a turning point regarding female-centric storytelling. “The moment I felt things really changed for women in entertainment was with the movie ‘Bridesmaids,’” she said. “And I remember sitting in the audience at (SXSW) and watching it with an audience and thinking, ‘This is going to be huge.’ And after that movie, the question, “Can women be as funny as men?” – which I got a lot – that question was gutted and no one ever asked it again. And I don’t know why it was ever asked in the first place. It’s so stupid. But it was, a lot. But I think that movie, after that, stopped. No one asked me anymore.”