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KC nonprofit spotlights women in media

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The 2014-2015 season of Community Cinema kicks off this Saturday with “MAKERS: Women in Hollywood.”

As part of the MAKERS series, which celebrates trailblazing women, “Women in Hollywood” spotlights the roles ladies have played in front of and behind the camera.

Kansas City Women in Film and Television is co-sponsoring the screening, and some its members will speak after the documentary.

As an actress, producer and member of KCWIFT, Monica Espinosa knows firsthand many of the challenges women face in the filmmaking and media landscape.

In preparation for Saturday’s screening she shared how KCWIFT is working to get more women and diversity to the screen. Espinosa’s responses have been edited for length and clarity.

What is KCWIFT?

Our main role is to help make sure that we are including women not only in filmmaking, but also in television and media in general. A lot of the stuff we do is in networking and partnering with other nonprofits so that we can support any local or regional filmmakers — both women filmmakers and male filmmakers that have strong, female-led documentary or narrative.

We want to make sure that there are women getting their stories across and that we’re connecting with each other to support and really amplify women’s voices.

What are some of the main challenges women in film and television face?

In 2013, just 16 percent of all directors, producers, cinematographers and editors were women. … It’s [about] gender equality in filmmaking and in TV.

We had a panel that I organized last year and we got female film professors from UMKC, Avila, KU and Kansas City Art Institute to give stats about their female students, and they were still less than half of the students in technical programs like editing.

I think the biggest challenge is getting over that male-dominated field. Some of the technical things can be somewhat intimidating, but just like with [fields related to] coding, science and math we’ve got get more women in there and start younger.

We’re trying to do more mentoring and things as well. We had a big documentary project with the Girls Leading Our World nonprofit in Kansas City, Missouri, where young girls were getting mentored by some of our members. They were also learning some of the basics of shooting with a digital camera and the documentary was then used to help promote (Girls Leading Our World).

When you sit down to watch TV or a movie, what gender stereotype is your biggest pet peeve?

Women tend to be more oversexualized in both movies and TV. You also tend to see younger women playing the role of wife or girlfriend to a man that is much older, which is annoying.

There’s still such a long way to come, and there are so many stereotypes of women as well as people of color on TV. I think that more independent producers are doing a lot better. I’ve heard great things about both “Orange is the New Black” and “House of Cards.”

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