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Women in film share their wisdom at Chapman University's Dodge School of Film and Media Arts

April 3, 2011 |  1:22 pm

Women filmmakers 
Before sharing words of wisdom, plus a few cautionary tales, at Friday's "Women in Focus," some of today's most accomplished female filmmakers joined VIP guests for lunch on a state-of-the-art soundstage at Chapman University's Dodge School of Film and Media Arts.

Dean Bob Bassett welcomed the group, which included Kristina and Larry Dodge, for whom the college is named; university president Jim Doti; and the day's panelists -- the women who "knocked on the doors of the boy's club." The panelists were Dawn Hudson, executive director of Film Independent; Susan Cartsonis, producer of "Beastly" and "What Women Want"; Shana Feste, writer/director of "Country Strong" and "The Greatest"; Mary Lambert, director of "Pet Sematary" and some of Madonna's early music videos; Cathy Schulman, "Crash" producer and president of Mandalay Pictures; Nancy Utley, president of Fox Searchlight Pictures ("127 Hours" and "Black Swan"); and Rebecca Yeldham, producer of "The Kite Runner" and "The Motorcycle Diaries."

That such women opted to spend a day at the film school speaks to their sense of responsibility toward the next generation, said Alex Rose, producer of "Norma Rae" and the Chapman University professor who organized the panel. "They know how hard it was for them and they are very respectful and admiring of young filmmakers," she said.

"It's all about women getting ahead, about women not having limits," said Bonny Schumacher, who sponsored the luncheon, along with Twyla Martin and Harriet Sandhu.

During the talks, many women had tales to tell about obstacles they faced as women in the film business. But not Lambert, who declared that that had not been her experience. As the crowd went silent, she added: "April Fools."

-- Ellen Olivier

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Photo: Women in film Nancy Utley, from left, Mary Lambert, Shana Feste, Rebecca Yeldham, Susan Cartsonis, Cathy Schulman, Dawn Hudson and Alex Rose. Credit: Michael Munson