The major points of difference of the festival, MacManus explains, is that entries must meet the criteria of the Bechdel Test – which states eligible films must feature at least two women, who talk to each other about something besides a man, as well as three of the five key creatives (Writer, Director, Producer, DOP and Editor) must be female.
“I didn’t just want (to celebrate) films spearheaded by female directors; I wanted female editors, female cinematographers and writers,” the 33-year-old says.
MacManus, who acting credits include roles in X-Men Origins: Wolverine and TV shows as such as SCI and Blue Water High, says the feelings of having no control over her own destiny in Hollywood in her twenties was behind her passion for championing women in film.
“In the age of the #metoo movement it felt right to finally take control,” she says. “It took me to getting into my thirties to get there, but I’m glad I went through that in my twenties because it’s made me really champion women and be a voice for younger actresses or women behind the camera who feel they’re not enough.”
There’s a strong chance that after the festival takes place on March 15, the mother-of-two will fall in an exhausted heap.
As well as juggling two little ones, the filmmaker is preparing to release a documentary - Misunderstandings of Miscarriage – in which she shares her own experiences the challenges and grief associated with miscarriage and stillbirth.
“It’s been ‘round the clock,” she admits. “I think I bit off a little more than I could chew.”
“There were many times when I would be sitting in a corner with my hands over my ears saying ‘I can’t do it, I’m so exhausted’,” she says. “But what kept me going was when I started to see the submissions cfor the festival oming through and the support from the team.
“It’s time for something like this, and there’s a need for something like this, so that’s what kept me going.”
The Australian Women’s Film Festival takes place on March 15 at AACTA Bar, Event Cinemas – Bondi Junction, Sydney. For more info and tickets visit https://awff.com.au/