Netflix celebrates women-led stories this International Women’s Month
‘Reflections Of Me’ brought together representation in Southeast Asia’s TV and cinema
To celebrate International Women's Month, Netflix recently held an event titled ‘Reflections Of Me’ in Jakarta, Indonesia. The event saw creators and talent from Netflix’s Southeast Asia titles coming together to engage in an important conversation about representation on screen, as well as the impact that women have on the creative industry in this region.
The key highlight of the event was a panel discussion on ‘Reflections of Me — Representation in Southeast Asia TV and Cinema’, moderated by Indonesian actress, journalist and presenter Marissa Anita and featured a line-up of speakers, including Indian film critic Anupama Chopra, Vietnamese-Irish screenwriter Eirene Tran Donohue, Indonesian filmmaker Kamila Andini, Thai actress, director, producer and writer Manatsanun ‘Donut’ Phanlerdwongsakul, as well as Filipino director Marla Archeta. The panelists shared their experiences as women in the industry and their journeys in reflecting strong, authentic female characters on screen, as well as the impact of having more women both in front of and behind the camera.
Thai actress, director, producer and writer Manatsanun ‘Donut’ Phanlerdwongsakul.
Vietnamese-Irish screenwriter Eirene Tran Donohue.
Filipino director Marla Archeta.
Indonesian filmmaker Kamila Andini.
Indian film critic Anupama Chopra.
"In some small way, the conversation around representation and storytelling does eventually impact what you see on screen. The discussion we are having today will also help,” said Chopra. In addition, they also reflected on the challenges in bringing to life authentic female characters. “Women are expected to be something all the time, being the perfect mum, or the perfect wife, to live our lives for the sake of others, to be who others want us to be. But I understand how difficult it is to try to be brave enough to make choices for ourselves. That’s why my characters are never black and white - they have weaknesses but also great qualities,” said Andini. Donohue agreed, “Embrace and give voice to the complexity that exists within women to be all versions of ourselves at the same time.”
When asked about the impact of more Asian female creators and talent being recognised for their work, Donut shared that she felt “it has opened more doors for Asian female characters. For example, when I watch films or series with an Asian woman, you always see a conservative mother or daughter who rebels against her family. It is up to the film producer and writer to introduce us, and decide that we can play more roles, not just stereotypes.”
Ancheta pointed out that while women seem to enjoy greater recognition and success in mainstream media, this will bring a different set of challenges for female creators. “They will expect more from us, especially from content creators. We need to make better content, be more conscious of the biases people have of us so we can better represent our culture.”
Apart from the panel discussion, a highly emotive spoken word performance by Sakdiyah Ma’ruf, Indonesian poet, comedian and performer, opened the event as she shared her take on the significance of representation on screen.
Both the spoken word performance and panel discussion are available on-demand on Netflix Asia’s YouTube channel. Attendees were also invited to reflect on the power of representation, were able to share their thoughts and reflections through interactive, social-worthy experiential installations. Visit netflix.com/iwd for women-led titles.