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Breaking Down Walls: Cinema Femme Short Film Festival Seeks Gender Equality through Mentorship | Festivals and awards

Each edition of Cinema Woman Magazine was centered around a woman-made film, with interviews with filmmakers and film reviews written by women from around the world. “After the first few tracks, I started hearing from tons of women on social media and thanked myself for posting the interviews out there, grateful for the opportunity to learn from female filmmakers,” says Martin.

The positive response reflected a need for community and educational resources, which inspired Martin to launch the Cinema Femme short film festival to further support new women and non-binary filmmakers. Now in its third year, the festival is offering the Breaking Down Walls Mentorship Program as the grand prize awarded to participating filmmakers.

At the culmination of the four-day festival, a group of established filmmakers select their personal mentees from the festival’s showcase. “Giving mentors the opportunity to individually choose their mentee based on common thematic interests provides a richer experience on both sides,” says Martin.

Mentoring is a six-month commitment that mentors and mentees navigate on their own terms, with the requirement that they meet for one hour each month to establish a collaboration. “All of the selected mentors have a passion for supporting new artists,” Martin says. “Mentors are chosen based on their demonstrated passion for elevating women, non-binary or under-represented voices in the industry, either by their work on screen or how they work with their sets,” she explains.

Mentors help their mentee develop a current project, build skills and expand their network; in 2020, filmmaker Laura Moss supervised writer-director Gabriela Ortega while working on her short “Huella,” which premiered at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival and is now being developed into a feature film.

This year’s Cinema Femme Short Film Festival will feature 23 short films covering a variety of topics, including a story of two stone witches seeking revenge, a rogue AI virtual assistant and a father who has to give up his daughter for care, just to name a few. Each block of shorts will be followed by a live Q&A with a celebrity or non-binary filmmaker.

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