Last September, it was announced that a new film fund would be launching with the goal of financing narrative feature films directed or co-directed by women. The fund was called Gamechanger Films, and it is very aptly titled, because if successful, this fund could truly be a game changer in increasing the number of women directors of feature studio films. I am a proud investor in this fund, serve on their advisory board, and I was thrilled when it was announced that the first film to be financed by Gamechanger Films, Land Ho!, would be premiering at the Sundance Film Festival. (I am also a Board Member of The Sundance Institute but we have no involvement with film selections)
Co-directed by Martha Stephens and Aaron Katz, Land Ho! is a rowdy road trip film that follows two retirees on a trip through Iceland, during which they reflect on their lives, past loves, and what the future has in store. The setting for the film was particularly meaningful for me as I had just travelled to Iceland and thus understood how the location could really contribute to the narrative of the film. And it is very unusual! Have you ever seen a film set in Iceland before? Starring Paul Eenhoorn, a working actor whose face you will immediately recognize but you can’t quite place him, and Earl Lynn Nelson, an unknown who stole the show, Land Ho! is the first completed film to emerge from the Gamechanger initiative, so needless to say, we all had high hopes for its Sundance debut.
Thankfully, those hopes were realized with the announcement that Land Ho! had been picked up for distribution by Sony Pictures Classics. When you see the film you will understand why this was likely an easy decision for them. I attended a screening during the later half of the festival, and not only was the theater totally sold out, but people were laughing hysterically. To me, Land Ho! represents the best of independent film by being very character driven, using relatively unknown actors, emerging directors, and being a perfect film for an audience that gets little attention – old folks!
For the first film out of the Gamechanger gate to find such success at Sundance gives me hope that we are moving in the right direction and getting there quickly, and I couldn’t be happier to be a part of this ride. This fund was created to bring capital to talented women filmmakers, and make money for the investors in the process. To me this in an outstanding example of Gender Lens Investing, and there will be many more examples to come.
Gamechanger Films’ goal is to finance a slate of films over the next three years in a variety of genres . For more information please check out their website.
Photo from Sundance 2014 – part of the Land Ho! team including Director Martha Stephens on my right and Mynette Louie of Gamechanger on my left.