The Women in Film panel was held yesterday, and there was the usual interesting mix of women to mingle and network with. The first hour or so is networking time, as the panelists arrive at staggered times to allow press access for quick interviews and photo sessions. This year's panel, which was moderated by Lucy Webb of Women in Film Los Angeles, included Patricia Clarkson (Blind Date and Phoebe in Wonderland), Pamela Cuming (co-screenwriter, Downloading Nancy), Lauren Greenfield (Director Kids + Money) Ellen Kuras (DP/Director/writer Nerakhoon (The Betrayal)), Sharon McGuire (Director/Screenwriter, Incinderary) Amy Redford (Director-The Guitar Premiere), and Marina Zenovich (Director Roman Polanski: "Wanted and Desired").

During the networking time, I chatted a bit with Amy Redford, Ellen Kuras and Women in Film director Jane Fleming. I asked Fleming about the need to have panels focused on women in film, and whether we might ever reach the point where there's enough parity in Hollywood that we don't need them anymore. I was reminded of Tamara Jenkins, director of The Savages, and actress Laura Linney, going off on this very subject at Telluride. Fleming's take was that even when true equality for women in Hollywood is achieved, it's still beneficial to have women gathering together to network and share ideas. We talked a bit about what WIF does; beyond networking opportunities and panels such as this one, they also provide grants for completing film projects. I had a nice chat with Amy Redford about her film, The Guitar, and about the challenges of being the daughter of a famous actor and director when you want to follow that career path as well. I also talked briefly with Ellen Kuras, who I'll be interviewing later this week about her directorial debut, Nerakhoon (The Betrayal). Kuras is a well-respected DP (among other things, she shot Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Be Kind, Rewind for Michel Gondry) and her film is highly anticipated here at the fest.

The panel itself was fairly interesting. Asked about how the advancements in technology (in particular digital video) are impacting filmmaking, Kuras spoke about how having access to HD cameras has made it far easier for new filmmakers to jump right in and start making movies, and how the smaller handhelds really allow a filmmaker to get back out of the way -- just stand in a corner and shoot unobtrusively (she noted that she herself shoots primarily with 35mm, though).

Marina Zenovich was asked about her film, Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired. She said she got interested in Polanski's case a couple years ago, when there was a swirl of media coverage around whether Polanski would (or could) enter the United States for the Oscars when he won Best Director for The Pianist. Zenovich said of Polanski, "Most people think he fled the country because he was afraid of going to jail, which is not true." Also an interesting side note: the film had an all-female crew.

Patricia Clarkson talked about one of the two films she has at the fest, Blind Date, in which she stars opposite Stanley Tucci. She told the crowd about she was originally slated to star opposite Tony Shalhoub, but they lost the film's financing. By the time they got financing together, Shalhoub was busy with Monk. The film, Clarkson said, is the second of three remakes of Theo Van Gogh films being shot by his crew in the deceased filmmaker's honor. Clarkson noted that the film was shot on video in only seven days, using three cameras. "I don't know all the technical stuff like these guys do," she said, referring to Kuras and Greenfield, both of whom know a lot about cameras, "But all this talk about technical things is very sexy!"

I had to bow out a bit early to make it to an interview on time, but as always, it was lovely to attend this panel and meet so many interesting women in the film business. I left at the same time as Clarkson, by the way, and I just have to note here that although she was trying to get to the premiere of one of her films, she very graciously stopped for autographs and photos with everyone who asked, and she's perfectly charming.