Documentary seeks to empower women in Irish theatre and film

By Barry Lord @Bazneto

A new documentary on gender inequality in the Irish arts is being made to progress women’s place in theatre and film.

Sarah Barr, 25, is the producer of Them’s the Breaks, a film which she believes will shine a spotlight on inequality by educating and inspiring an audience.

“What we’re hoping the documentary will do is raise awareness of a problem a lot of people don’t realise exists,” Sarah said.

The Irish theatre scene – and the film industry to a large degree, is still a very male dominated environment and what we hope projects like this will do is create a landscape change. Women are not afraid to create art, and women are creating art, but the opportunities to prove their worth are not available.

As well as devoting time to this current project, Sarah has also watched with interest #WakingTheFeminists, a movement created after The Abbey Theatre’s inclusion of only one female playwright out of ten in their 2016 centenary.

Hollywood A-lister Meryl Streep and Irish actress Saoirse Ronan are supporters.

Hollywood A lister: Meryl Streep is supporting the feminist movement in the arts
Hollywood A lister: Meryl Streep is supporting the feminist movement in the arts

“I believe there is a movement happening,” Sarah said. “Things are changing.”

But, Sarah believes a lack of opportunities has meant there has been no clear pathway for women to realise their ambitions.

“It’s not helping and it’s hard to find inspiration when there are so few female writers you can look up to,” said Sarah.

When you don’t have someone to point to and say ‘she’s leading the way,’ it can be discouraging. You’re putting the work in, only to fail at the end of it. That obviously can lead to a lack of confidence.

The young film graduate believes professional bodies like the Irish Film Board could also do more to guarantee a level playing field.

“Structures should be put in place to ensure there is an acceptable quota of female artists given their chance.

“We’re in a world where only 7 per cent of the 250 films made in America last year had a female director.  The stats are there for all to see.”

But she is not disheartened and is continuing to create her labour of love.

Sarah and her team turned to Ireland based crowdfunding website to finance the production.

A target of €10,000 has been set and over €4,000 has been raised already.  

“The money will keep the production going through the next few months,” Sarah said.

“Should we need extra equipment or lighting, we know we have the money to help us continue. But we must raise €10,000. Without it, the project won’t be realised.”

With nine days to go, Sarah is confident they will reach their target.

“We’ve got this far, with amazing support,” Sarah said.

“I think we’ll get there.”

Sarah is working on the documentary with co-producer, Aoife Kelly, director Sarah Corcoran and writer Stephen Elliott.

Support the project here

Follow the documentary’s progress on Facebook here

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