Looking for Grace’s Sue Brooks on Gender Matters

Sue Brooks.

Looking for Grace, the new Sue Brooks film opening on Australia Day, is the story of a young girl written and directed by a woman. 

The film's score was composed by a woman. It's produced by women; the film's cinematographer, casting agent and costume designer were women. You get the idea.

Asked about the steps being taken by Screen Australia and others to guarantee gender equality behind the camera, Brooks is cautious but optimistic.

"I think it's great that people are talking about it. It's a complex set of questions. I've been aware of gender issues for a long time. I suppose most women are." 

"When you're trying to get your film financed, you just battle away like anybody. You don't think about doing it because you're a woman. But then afterwards you look back at the statistics and get really conscious of the fact that you're up against the odds, same as indigenous filmmakers or non-Anglo filmmakers. They're not good stats."

Brooks noticed the groundswell when premiering her film at festivals last year.

"When we were overseas in Venice there was a lot of talk, and in England and Toronto, about [gender equality]. A lot of the Hollywood women are saying we've had enough of this."

Brooks points out the "extraordinary" achievements of the Indigenous Unit, but is noncommittal on whether Gender Matters will have the same impact.

Brooks' leading man, Richard Roxburgh, told IF, "there's a part of me that is sceptical of initiatives like that, just because I'm sceptical of having to create a situation where we have to have affirmative action. Hopefully it'll be a good thing".

His director is equally circumspect.

"I suppose I'm old enough that I've seen it once before, and seen it disappear. And now seeing it again, I absolutely welcome it, I welcome the changes, but nothing's going to take away from the fact that we don't make enough films." 

Looking for Grace opens on Australia Day, January 26.