Mandy Walker, Diane English honored by WIF


Women in Film is honoring Mandy Walker with the Kodak Vision Award for her achievements not as a woman but as a cinematographer on features such as director Baz Luhrmann's upcoming Fox adventure "Australia" and 2003's "Shattered Glass," which earned her an Independent Spirit Award nomination. But it couldn't have escaped WIF that she is a woman working in the top tier of a film trade that is still almost exclusively a boy's club. For Walker, however, it is a complete non-issue.

"Until people talk about it, I forget that there aren't many women doing my job," she says.

Born in Australia, Walker inherited her appreciation for the visual arts from her mother, who began taking her to art galleries when she was just a toddler. "I had an interest in art, painting, photography and cinema, and by the time I got to about 12 or 13, I sort of put all that together and said, '(Cinematography) would be the job that I would love to do,'" she recalls.

She landed gigs on documentaries, music videos and independent features, working her way up from runner to director of photography, with stints as clapper loader, focus puller and camera operator in between. At the age of 25, she shot her first feature, 1990's "Return Home," and in the years since, she's compiled a list of credits that includes 1996's "Parklands," 2001's "Lantana" and the Australian TV series "Raw FM." She's also filmed commercials for Nike and a spot for Chanel No. 5 directed by Luhrmann and featuring "Australia" star Nicole Kidman.

"Every film I look at as a new challenge and a new story, so I never get bored," she says.       

Diane English and "The Women" receive the WIF Crystal Award for excellence in film
By Trisha Tucker

Lots of people complain about the dearth of quality roles for women in Hollywood.

Writer-director-producer Diane English, creator of TV's indomitable "Murphy Brown," has dedicated her career to doing something about it.

English's latest project, a remake of George Cukor's 1939 classic "The Women" from

Picturehouse, has taken more than a decade to reach fruition. "I was advised by people I have the utmost respect for to walk away," English says of the film. "Ironically, in 1939, (the all-female cast) was not an issue. The movie was made, and it was a smash. But in the year 2008, it is a huge issue."

Filling out that cast was one of English's biggest challenges. The first-time director attached a seemingly never-ending stream of actresses as preproduction stretched for 13 years. A few, like Eva Mendes, Annette Bening, Jada Pinkett Smith and Carrie Fisher, have been on board for multiple years. Some, like Meg Ryan, since the beginning of the project.

Debra Messing, who plays the film's "supermom," Edie Cohen, found English's approach to the film refreshing. No matter their career or relationship choices, Messing says, "all of the women in the film are shown as legitimate. No one is judged in the writing."

Now, English and company hope that female filmgoers who feel underserved by traditional Hollywood fare will support the film when it's released later this year. "Women need to reach into their purses and vote with their wallets," she says. "Money talks, and Hollywood listens. That's the only way things will change."