Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sundance - A Feature Article on Geralyn Dreyfous plus Davos

What a 10 days! We saw 12 films, attended many parties, met countless fabulous people and I am exhausted! That said, I am completely inspired to work on a Wonder Woman Project and have so many ideas for documentaries that it feels like my head is going to explode. WOW. My last post was about a party I held for some fabulous feminists last Sunday ( see below) and it made the front page of Sunday's Salt Lake Tribune. Click here to read the profile piece on Geralyn and see some fab photos.

I failed to report on the gathering on DAVOS this past week, and in particular on the implementation of a gender quota. Click here to read more about it in an article by Katrine Behold of the New York Times / International Herald Tribune in which I was quoted.

There is so much I want to write about but it will be another crazy week with little time for writing. I am off to NY for a bunch of meetings related to the Women's Funding Network and Women Moving Millions, plus a few days of media training! I am hoping to do one more post on Sundance before I head off as it truly was an incredible experience. So much talent. So many great stories. Just an incredible experience.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Sundance - Margin Call and and....

My last Sundance Post! Again, what an incredible week of taking in the best of independent films. ( click here from FB) I have posted on a number of them but here are a few more that were on our list: The Ledge, Miss Representation, Cedar Rapids, Take Shelter, Perfect Sense, The Convincer, Salvation Boulevard , Tyrannosaur , The Flaw, Incendies and Margin Call. I was sad to have missed Connected, Hell and Back Again, Like Crazy, How to Die in Oregon and RAW/WAR. Those are all on my to watch list. For a list of the years winners click here.

By far my favorite feature was INCENDIES a film about twins in Montreal that must deal with their passing mother's last wish- to locate their father and brother that were not known to them. The film up for an academy award and is a must see.

Worth commenting on is Margin Call and The Flaw, both about the financial crisis. Margin Call featured an all star cast of Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany, Jeremy Jones, Zachary Quinto, Demi Moore, and Stanley Tucci, all of which were present for the premiere! The film was a day in the life of the financial crisis, located at one firm, when they find out that they have risk on their books that could effectively take down the place. Sound familiar? A young rocket scientist discovers the 'truth' and the plot follows how that piece of information travels up the decision making chain and back down again. Realistic, not really, but interesting never-the-less. I did enjoy how each character in the film was a Wall Street archetype.
- A dude in risk that was a PHd that moved to Wall Street for the money, but really felt somewhat guilty about it. Why is it we are paid so much in this job compared to "real work?"
- His sidekick, who did not have the pedigree and was completely obsessed with what everyone was paid with no moral conscience about it, nor about the fact that his firm was about to explode.
-The middle man manager/salesman that lived the life, $2.5 mm a year to be exact, of which he said about $80,000 was spent on partying and hookers. Very slick, a company man, and clearly a A-kisser.
- The trading floor boss who felt just a tad more conflicted about what was the 'right' thing to do for customers versus protecting his firm's interests.
- The big boss ( Jeremy Irons ) who had no idea what kind of risk the firm was taking but when confronted with the possible losses, did not hesitate to make quick decisions to protect the firms short term interests, even if it meant damaging client relationships.
- The only female in the film, Demi Moore's character, who was the doe in the headlight head of firm-wide risk, who clearly sacrificed family life to be a player, only to be told that the firm needed a fall guy and she would be it.
- The day to day head of risk who gets canned upfront even though he was trying to do the right thing, exposing the 'truth' that no one wanted to hear while the $$ was pouring in. A family guy who becomes obsessed with the fact that at one point he did something that helped people. He designed a bridge that saved people time in the commute.

So what was the point of the firm you ask? Well I asked that question actually, of the Director J.C. Chandor, and he answered that he really wanted to explore the crisis with from a personal perspective. Further that what we know of the crisis is more about the firms, or the dollars, and not about the people that drove the decisions. He added that what this experience caused him to question is why is it that some of the smartest, most talented people go to Wall Street? And what does that say about us as a society? Well I am sure we can answer that question.

Was it a good film? No, but with such a big cast and on such a timely topic, it is sure to be released. Will it become a Wall Street cult classic? Nope, but I do hope people go see it and it will likely result in some great conversations! ( a link to an article about Margin Call from The Guardian,)

The Flaw - a documentary about the crisis. Just not good. Took a very narrow perspective with Wall Street taking the solitary hit. There are many factors that caused the financial crisis with Wall Street certainly playing a key role, but not the only one. Too bias, stay away.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Feminist Bash plus Miss Representation

Okay I don't meet to brag, but we just had a heck of a party! ( click here from FB) About 100 people came including our guests of honor Gloria Steinem, Geena Davis, Pat Mitchell, and Amy Richards. Whole teams came from three fabulous documentaries (!WAR, Connected and Miss Representation) including the filmmakers. There were also other actors, filmmakers, activists and all around fabulous people. If you are a feminist in Park City, this was the place to be! The spotlight was on Geena for her fabulous work at the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media . If you are not aware of the research she has done please find it on her web-site. The facts around women's lack of representation in the media, or the distorted view of them, will shock you in to action. Please consider supporting her important work!

My idea for next year is to gather together women writers, producers, filmmakers and other change makers to help make SUNDANCE and the industry in general much more gender balanced. I am so inspired by the films I have seen over the past few days that deliver the powerful message that we can all make a difference.

Yesterday I attended the premiere of this fabulous film that Greg and I were honored to support. This documentary by Jennifer Siebel Newson ( pictured center above) "explores women's under-representation in positions of power and influence in America and challenges the limited portrayal of women in mainstream media." It was extremely well done delivering powerful facts, images and opinions, but it is also a call to action. Please visit their website to learn more I am excited to be a part of their outreach.

Here are a few facts from the film - WOMEN ARE
- 3% of clout positions in the mainstream media
- 3% of Fortune CEOs
- 7% of mainstream film directors
- 16% of film protagonists
- 17% of Congress while women make up 51% of the population

Also present at the party was the founder of Common Sense Media, Jim Steyer. If you do not know about this site, you must. I introduced him to my son Matthew who loves the site, and they had a great talk about Halo. How cool is that?

"Common Sense Media is dedicated to improving the lives of kids and families by providing the trustworthy information, education, and independent voice they need to thrive in a world of media and technology.We exist because our nation's children spend more time with media and digital activities than they do with their families or in school, which profoundly impacts their social, emotional, and physical development . As a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization, we provide trustworthy information and tools, as well as an independent forum, so that families can have a choice and a voice about the media they consume."

More film commentary to come this week!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Sundance - Report on Films

At 4 am my eyes popped open thinking about Sundance. (from FB) Not surprising given the two fabulous and provocative films I have seen over the past two days.

The first was the premiere of "Sing Your Song" a film by Susanne Rostok, a biographical documentary of the life of Harry Belafonte. His "groundbreaking career personifies the American Civil Rights Movement and impacted many other social justice movements." The filmmaker had collected over 800 hours of film on this extraordinary life. Mr. Belafonte told of how his mother taught him to wake up every day looking to right an injustice in the world. This is the same message that I am trying to live by, and am trying to teach my children - to do "what you can with what you have where you are." What was so incredible was how he used his platform, used is power, used his relationships, to help others. This is what the world needs a heck of a lot more of. I cannot wait to share this movie with my Women Moving Millions sisters ( and a few brothers) as that is exactly why this initiative was created. "To those to which much is given, much is expected."

Yesterday we saw a feature film called "The Ledge" by Director/ Screenwriter Gavin Wiesen. "Atop a high-rise building, Gavin, a young hotel manager, is about to end his life. Hollis, a detective whose own world has just been turned upside down, is dispatched to the scene. As Hollis tried to persuade Gavin not to jump, each man begins to open up about his past, and we discover that neither of them is convinced that his life is worth living." The film stars Charlie Hunnman, Liv Tyler, Patrick Wilson and Terrance Howard ( who were all excellent!!) who were all there for post film Q and A. Patrick's character Joe was a fundamentalist Christian who we find 'rescued' his gorgeous and docile bride. Charlie, the 'happy go lucky' neighbor, an atheist , falls for her, and her for him. I won't say more about the plot but it is filled with temptation, tragedy, and moral dilemmas. Ultimately it is about forgiveness, grace and perhaps event salvation. Faith is forefront. Love it. What I did not love is that I asked this question to the crew - "This movie is about one's struggle with faith. What did you learn about your own faith during the filming and would you like to share your faith with the audience?" The crowd cheered the question but that actors ducked answering. Sorry but that was lame. Why is one willing to get on the big screen and play a fundamentalist Christian, and not willing to comment about how you could or could not relate to the character." It was a moment for them to real about it, which was of course the point of the film and they did not. Very disappointing. Very.

Last night we attended a gathering for Impact Partners, a film investment group that funds social impact documentaries. They have three films in the festival - !WAR, Hell and Back Again and Connected: An Autobiography about Love, Death and Technology. They all sound extraordinary and I am hoping to see them. The filmmakers were there and the stories about how much passion went in to creating this films moved me. I have found my new love, Documentary Films. Also there were two filmmakers pitching their projects. The first will be about acid attacks on women in Pakistan and one man, a doctor, who is doing something about it. The second is about the Biosphere Two Project. Amazing. ( click here for the film guide)

My fabulous feminist house guests arrived last night for the Premiere of "Miss Representation" today. I am so excited which is likely why my eyes popped open at 4. Yes it is fun seeing movie stars, but activists and change makers are my heros. I suggest the cast of "The Ledge" come to this film for a little inspiration of how to not fear putting who YOU are out there. For that matter they should also search out Mr. Belafonte for an amazing example of a man who leverages his celebrity and is not afraid to share his values off the screen.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Sundance Film Festival!

Eighteen movies in 10 days......can it be done??? ( click here from FB) Not to mention other events and parties. This is my first Sundance Film Festival experience and we are going for it! The festivities began last night with a quick drink at ZOOM ( the Robert Redford Restaurant and yes there was a sighting!!!) with Pat Mitchell and her fabulous husband Scott. The bartender called it the calm before the storm. As a forever board member of the institute Pat likely knows more about Sundance then anyone and we were grateful for the advice. Tonight it is the opening Party at the Montage, the swanky new hotel at Deer Valley, and a viewing of the film "Sing Your Song."

The one I am most excited about is Miss Representation a film written and directed by Jennifer Siebel Newson. "Miss Representation" uncovers a glaring reality we live with every day but fail to see. It's clear that mainstream media objectifies women, but what most people don't realize is the magnitude of that phenomenon and the way objectification gets internalized - a symbolic annihilation of self-worth - and impedes girls and women from realizing their full potential." This documentary features interviews with politicians, journalists, academics and activists. The guest list to the event and panel discussion to follow included the most fabulous Gloria Steinem (pictured with me up above), Geena Davis, and more with Pat Mitchell to moderate. "The purpose of the film is to re-energize the movement!!!" love it. I am excited to be able to continue the discussion the following day with a party at my home. This will be the first gathering in our new home and what a way to start!

Here are a few of the movies that we are hoping to attend. (in order of viewing):

The Ledge-A thriller. Atop a high-rise building, Gavin, a young hotel manager, is about to end his life. Hollis, a detective whose own world has just been turned upside down, is dispatched to the scene. As Hollis tries to persuade Gavin not to jump, each man begins to open up about his past, and we discover the neither of them is convinced that his life is worth living. Starring Charilie Hunnam, Liv Tyler, Patrick Wilson, Terrence Howard.

Like Crazy- A romance that is a film from and about the heart. Jacob, an American, and Anna, who is British, meet at college in L.A. and fall madly in love. Starring Anton Yelchin, Felicity Jones, Jennifer Lawrence.

My Idiot Brother-A comedy. Despite looking for the good in every situation and the best in every person, Ned always seems to find himself holding the short end of the stick-being conned into selling drugs to a uniformed cop, being dumped by his girlfriend. and worse yet, losing custody of his beloved dog, Willie Nelson. Starring Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel,

Higher Ground-Romantic/Drama charting one women's spiritual journey through life while exploring and embracing her own humanity, Higher Ground is that rare film that is rich in ideas but also charger with emotion.

Red State-A horror which follows three high school boys who come across an online ad from an older women looking for a ....... Hmm, not sure why I picked this one, perhaps because they confront a "holy" force.

Cedar Rapids-A comedy about a group of insurance salesmen who use the opportunity to attend an annual convention in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, as a way to escape their doleful Vegas but with corn. Starring Ed Helms, John C. Reilly, Anne Heche. This looks really funny!

Take Shelter-A psychological thriller about Curtis who lives in a small town in Ohio with his wife and daughter, a six-year-old deaf girl. When Curtis begins to have terrifying dreams, he keeps the visions to himself, channeling his anxiety into obsessively building a storm shelter in his backyard. Starring Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain.

Perfect Sense-A thriller/drama about a global pandemic which first attacks emotions, the senses. Starring Ewan McGregor, Eva Green, Ewen Bremner. Love Ewan!

The Convincer-A drama about an insurance agent that is looking for a way to jump-start his business, reunite with his estranged wife, and escape the dismal mid-western weather.

Margin Call- Set in the high-stakes world of the financial industry, Margin Call is a thriller entangling the key players at an investment firm during one perilous 24-hour period in the early stages of the 2008 financial crisis. Starring Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany, Demi Moore, Zachary Quinto.

Salvation Boulevard- A drama about Reverend Dan, a charismatic preacher who has a captivated a city with his charm. Starring Pierce Brosan, Jennifer Connelly, Ed Harris, Greg Kinnear, Marisa Tomei.

The Flaw-A documentary. The Flaw makes one thing clear from the outset-there was nothing simple about the U.S. financial collapse of 2007.

Incendies-A drama about twins from Montreal that must deal with their mothers dying wish: to locate their father, who they believed was dead, and the brother they never knew existed.

Tyrannosaur-A drama about Joseph, a tormented, self-destructive man plagued by violence, finds hope of redemption in Hannah, a Christian charity-shop worker he meets one day while fleeing an altercation. Starring Peter Mullan, Olivia Coleman, Eddie Marsan.

The Son of No One-Is a police thriller about a yound cop who is assigned to a precinct in the Queens neighborhood where he grew up. Starring Channing Tatum, Tracy Morgan, Katie Holmes, Al Pacino.

Will we make it through? I will report back.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Wonder Woman - The Missing Superhero

Regular readers know that I love Wonder Woman. I collect WW memorabilia, and I fantasize about writing the WMM screenplay. So I sent this article to Gloria Steinem, who is one of the world's experts on WW, as I have been saying to her "Gloria, it is time we got involved." She agreed. Sundance is next week and we will both be attending, so we are going to find someone to listen! They need some hard core feminists to get involved and we are ready!

Read the latest news on WW by clicking here. Bottom line they have not found a screenplay, the concept is in "development hell." CALL GLORIA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Are Women Leaving Men Behind?

A while back Hanna Rosin wrote an article for the Atlantic called "The End of Men." ( click here from FB) Needless to say it caught my attention. Sorry Hanna but although you made some great points in the article about the rising economic power of women, I truly hated the title. Hated it. The idea that when women rise men must fall is just plain wrong and truly damaging. It is not an either/or, but a both and.

Today this oped appeared on CNN and it links to Hanna's talk at TED Women, a conference I recently attended. Sorry again Hanna, but I really did not like your talk for the same reason I did not like the title of your article. It was too anti-men. Watch it for yourself and leave a comment.

Men need to be our partners in advancing gender equality. I truly believe that when women more equally share in all forms of power in our society, we will have a more just and equitable one, and a growing number of men believe that too. So please Hannah, no more putting men down and making them feel like the 'losers.' Last time I checked, despite all the facts you quote ( which I fully agree with), men still do run the world, and we need them to support us running in it with them.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Some Facts About the Deficit

Deficit reduction is likely to be the hottest, domestic, political topic this year so let me arm you with some facts according to the WSJ.
- The government is currently spending about $100 billion more a month then it is taking in, adding about $1.3 trillion to the federal debt per year.
- Right now the government only has $400 billion before it hits the $14.3 trillion ceiling. ( and there is really no way to avoid hitting it)
- I love this quote - "Today's deficits are political problem, tomorrow's economic threat."
- Federal borrowing grew by $3.9 trillion between the end of 2007 and the third quarter of 2010. ( Why? to cushion the blow of the economic downturn)
- Every additional $100 billion borrowed this year adds $43 billion in interest over the next 10 years.

My comments to this - Scary. The numbers are extraordinary. When we raise the debt ceiling the federal debt will exceed our national GDP. This does not include state and local debt. You have likely been reading that there are HUGE issues in the muni area right now as bond holders are worried about the ability of many issuers to repay. This does not include mortgage debt, credit card debt, corporate debt, high yield debt...... We are an indebted nation and to a large extent that has been good, it has fueled growth, but at the end of the day it comes down to this. can the debt payments be made? No, for the subprime mortgage market and that is what contributed greatly to the financial crisis. Partial no for commercial real estate which has also caused big issues. So far yes for government, but at what cost to our future? The federal government can print money which is a good thing if you need to pay people. Printing does risk credibility and the credibility is reflected in both interest rates and exchange rates. Again so far ok because many other developed countries are in the same position and hey, we are the US, the world's largest economy.

So where does that leave me? Worried, as i have been for some time. Worried for the economic future of our collective children. I teach my children to be financially responsible. I teach them to spend within their means and our nation's capital is not exactly setting a good example.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Helen Mirren on Hollywood

This video is a must watch. You go Girl. Thank you for the courage to speak from the heart about what you know to be TRUE. ( click here)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

My FAV TED talks from TEDWOMEN 2010

I am so sorry this is so late in posting. ( click here from FB ) I have been waiting for more talks to be posted before sharing and they are still not all up but here it goes! Below are my FAVs in no particular order.

I have to give a huge shout out to Pat Mitchell, The President of the Paley Center for Media, who was instrumental in making this event happen, and a co-host of the whole thing. I have both the honor and pleasure of working with Pat and she is truly one of the most brilliant, warm and committed women I have ever known.

New Yorker cartoonist Liza Donnelly (TED talks) tackles global issues with humor, intelligence and wit. Her latest project supports the United Nations initiative cartooning for peace. Her talk was absolutely hilarious and a must watch when it comes available. I had the opportunity to talk with her a little and she is a lovely person.

Documentary filmmakers Beverly and Dereck Joubert (TED talks) have worked to conserve wildlife for more than 25 years. As National Geographic explorers in residence, the couple influences public policy and perceptions. Their video showed a herd of lions taking down an elephant. It was breathtaking.

Stephen Lewis (TED talks) advocates for the victims of Africa's HIV/AIDS pandemic, and believes that gender lies at the heart of the problem-and the solution. Oh my gosh this guy was amazing. To here a MAN talk about Why Women and Girls is so powerful. A quote " Gender Equality Now or Never!" Check back to find the video....

Courtney E. Martin (TED talks) chronicles-and encourages-the current generation of young activists and feminists. Courtney is a friend and i completely adore her! She's an editor at and author of Do It Anyway: The New Generation Of Activists. ( pictured above) Again, check back for the talk.

Jacqueline Novogratz (TED talks) founded and leads Acumen Fund, a nonprofit that takes a businesslike approach to improving the lives of the poor. I am a proud supporter of the Acumen Fund and Jacqueline is an amazing woman and leader.

Tony Porter (TED talks) is an educator and activist who is internationally recognized for his effort to end violence against women. Tony shared his personal experience and you could here a pen drop. Violence against women is a men's issue!!!!!! You must watch and learn about the 'man box."

In Hans Rosling's (TED talks) hands, data sings . Global trends in health and economics come to vivid life. And the big picture of global development-with some surprisingly good news-snaps into sharp focus. This guy is a gifted presenter, no wonder he ranks amongst TED's top talks.

As the COO at the helm of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg (TED talks) juggles the tasks of monetizing the world's largest social networking site while keeping its users happy and engaged. A GREAT talk for all aspiring professionals. I had the opportunity to meet her at dinner and she seems truly lovely.

Halla Tomasdottir (TED talks), co-founder if Audur Capital, has been instrumental in rebuilding Iceland's economy since the nation nearly went bankrupt in 2008. Her approach: applying female values to financial advice. I have written about Halla before as we were sisters in a former life. We met last year at the Global Forum for Women and the Economy and we have been connected every since. She rocks!

I truly hope this becomes an annual event. It was great.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Women's ENews - 21 Leaders

Happy New Year! What a great first blog for 2011, acknowledging the 21 Women Leaders chosen by Women's ENews to be this years honorees. ( click here from FB) I have the pleasure of knowing and working with a number of these fantastic women.

First, Linda Basch. Linda is the President of the National Council for Research on Women where I continue to serve as Board Member Emeritae. Linda is passionate, articulate, and deeply committed to leveraging the power of research to create positive change. Congratulations Linda!

Second, Kayrita Anderson. This women is a force of nature. Kayrita and her husband Harold are from Atlanta. Having supported an organization that provided a safe house for young girls escaping a life of prostitution they asked themselves, why are there so many girls in this situation? They decided to do something about it and created a program called "A Future, Not a Past," taking a holistic approach to ending the prostitution of young girls in this country. Kayrita is a fellow Women Moving Millions donor and a board member with me of the Women's Funding Network. Congrats Kayrita!

Third, Pamela Shifmin the Director of Initiatives for Women and Girls at the Novo Foundation. Novo is a foundation that gets it! They believe that "empowering girls and women with emphasis on increasing educational and economic opportunities in the developing world" is key to a more just and equitable world." YES!! Thank you Pamela and my buddy Jennifer Buffet for doing what you do in the world. Congrats!

Fourth, Lauren Embrey! Lauren is another remarkable woman philanthropist and change maker. I have had the pleasure of serving with her as Co-Chairs of Women Moving Millions. She is authentic and passionate, caring deeply about the empowerment of women and girls in multiple realms. Congrats Lauren!

To the many other fantastic women nominated congratulations to all of you. I had the honor of being an awardee in 2009 it was a tremendous honor. A shout out goes out to Women's ENews. If you are not currently a subscriber to their daily news briefs click here to become one. In addition please consider becoming a supporter of their work.