Vice Launches Broadly Films to Finance Female Filmmakers (Exclusive)

Ariel Wengroff - H Publicity 2017
Courtesy of Vice Media

The multimillion-dollar initiative will place an emphasis on providing financing and distribution for projects from Middle Eastern filmmakers.

Vice Media is planning to invest in female filmmakers through a new multiyear initiative to finance and distribute projects from women around the world. 

Called Broadly Films, the three-year program will see Vice help 36 filmmakers develop and create short films focused on innovation, technology, youth and women's issues. AE Ventures is backing Broadly Films with a multimillion-dollar annual commitment. 

All films created through the program, which will launch by the end of this year, will be distributed on Broadly, Vice's female-centric channel, and other Vice platforms.

While Broadly Films will seek projects from female filmmakers in a number of countries, it has committed to selecting a third of its films from the Middle East or from women of Middle Eastern descent. The media company is currently in the process of opening offices in Abu Dhabi and plans to launch a local website in the region in the coming months. 

"If we're going to have boots on the ground in this region, we want to make sure that we're covering stories about women there," Broadly publisher Ariel Wengroff, who developed the idea for Broadly Films and will oversee it for Vice, tells The Hollywood Reporter.

Vice has tapped a group of mentors to join Broadly Films, including feminist activist Gloria Steinem, filmmaker and Vice creative director Spike Jonze, activist Malala Yousafzai, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night director Ana Lily Amirpour, Iranian visual artist Shirin Neshat and Pakistani documentary filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy. They will help Vice identify filmmakers for the program and will also provide guidance and notes throughout production on the projects. 

"We need to empower the next generation of filmmakers. Often they have fantastic ideas but they don't know how to execute them or they don't have access to funding," says Obaid-Chinoy, who has won two Academy Awards in the documentary short category for her films Saving Face and A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness. "The only way to have an impact is to tell your own stories, in your own words, in your own communities. That's when you'll start to see an impact."

Wengroff says that she would like to make some of the projects available theatrically and also notes that an important piece of the initiative will be screening the films in the countries from which the filmmakers originate. She adds: "There are a lot of young female creators making content who don't have the opportunity for people to see their stories."