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J.J. Abrams Headlines Archer’s Film Festival in Culver City

By Mike Perkins

Culver City was home to a film festival Wednesday night, to empower young women to get more involved in the film industry. The Fifth Annual Archer Film Festival, held at the Arclight Cinema, featured fifteen short films submitted from around the globe.

Photo: Mike Perkins
Photo: Mike Perkins

The festival was put on by students from Brentwood’s The Archer School for Girls.
The fifteen films shown at the festival varied in length, style and tone. They covered topics familiar to teens like friendship, divorce, breakups and being a foreign exchange student. There were also several comedy shorts and a few PSA’s thrown in. “I’m always surprised by the stories kids feel they need to tell,” said Reed Farley, the art director and head of the film program at Archer. “This festival gives them the chance to do this, and that’s huge.”
“We looked at over 2,000 submissions,” said Lulu Cerone, 17, and a student at Archer. Cerone, along with other students comprised the board for the festival. “The students completely run the show for the festival,” said Farley. “They selected the films, reached out to sponsors and booked the venue.
Sponsors for the event included The Kennedy Marshall Company, CBS, the Mark Gordon Company, Mandeville Films, Arclight Culver City, and JJ Abrams production company Bad Robot.
Abrams, whose daughter attends the Archer school, provided a buzz by attending the event and giving a keynote speech before the films were shown. “There’s a lot of talk about women both in front and behind the camera taking center stage,” Abrams said, “When you see the young women at Archer and see the work they’re doing, it’s already happening.”
The festival comes at a time when studies show a dearth of women working in large production roles in the film industry. Recent reports from the USC Institute for Diversity and Empowerment at Annenberg shows female characters only represent 28.7% of all speaking roles in films. The numbers are worse for directors where 85 percent are male, and only 20 percent of movie executives are female.
The festival continues tonight at the Archer school with a moderated panel. The topics for the panel will cover women in film, what it’s like to break into the business and the state of TV. Speakers include Executive Director of Women in Film, Kirsten Shaffer, actor Ed O’Neill, producer Rena Ronson, writer/director Jason Reitman, and President of Tri-Star Pictures, Hannah Minghella. The speakers will relate firsthand experience in the film world, and take questions from Archer students.
Last night’s pink carpet event provided a taste of the celebrity world for the budding filmmakers and may have given these girls more inspiration to try a career in Hollywood. Said Abrams, “It’s only a matter of time before the conversation of “where are the female voices and writers/directors”, that won’t be the case anymore, and these Archer girls are the proof of that.”
The Archer School for Girls. The school, located in Brentwood, is in its twentieth year of providing a strong education for girls from sixth to twelfth grade.

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