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The WIFV Women of Vision Awards Gala 2012
Mayflower Renaissance Hotel in Washington, DC
Thursday, November 29, 6:30 p.m.

Writer: Vicki Warren, Women in Film & Video DC Member, Producer/Journalist

Ginny Durrin, former WIFV president, holds up the first ever WIFV tee-shirt--printed when WIFV was founded in 1979.  Durable AND fashionable apparel?  Just one of the many wonderful things WIFV has to offer.
Ginny Durrin, former WIFV president, holds up the first ever WIFV tee-shirt–printed when WIFV was founded in 1979. Durable AND fashionable apparel? Just one of the many wonderful things WIFV has to offer.

It was a shared love of filmmaking and an opportunity to celebrate four remarkable women that brought guests to the 19th Annual Women of Vision Awards Gala. The honorees included Shirin Ghareeb, Deputy Director of Filmfest DC and founder of the Arabian Sights Film Festival; Agnieszka Holland, acclaimed writer and director; Peggy Parsons, Curator of the Department of Film Programs at the National Gallery of Art and Chris Weber, Vice President of Production for Specials at the Discovery Channel. The four women visionaries were recognized for creating their own body of work and for serving as trailblazers and mentors to others. And those whose lives they touched were there at the Gala in full force sharing stories and laughter and a great deal of joy at just being together. Many had worked on the video vignettes celebrating the honorees. Tony Gittens, director of Filmfest DC, had a starring role in two of the video tributes–one celebrating Shirin Ghareeb and one portraying the work of Peggy Parsons. In that vignette, Gittens got a chance to serenade Parsons with his rendition of Peggy Sue. “In spite of the fact,” he said, “Her middle name isn’t Sue and I’m not Buddy Holly.” Each of the video tributes captured the essence of the person being celebrated. The one honoring Parsons, produced by Sandy Cannon-Brown, Immediate Past President of WIFV DC, was in black and white with subtitles exhibiting a great deal of humor. Part of Parsons’ job is bringing visitors to the National Gallery of Art to see newly restored films and in her speech she voiced her appreciation that the video about her was in black and white. It was fitting that the video vignette honoring Chris Weber, whose able hand has guided so many filmmakers, was produced by an almost brand-new producer, Elizabeth Ventura. Weber said in her remarks that when she started out as a filmmaker she lacked a clear vision, but that now she has one. That vision, she said, “Is that the film community can make films that change the world. “ And to her, the vision is clearer and the product better when everyone involved with the project treats each other with respect. Her words brought cheers from the audience, many of whom had worked with Weber over the years. The video tribute to Shirin Ghareeb, produced by Randi Cohen Coblenz and Catherine Wyler, showed the diversity Ghareeb has brought to the film landscape in Washington over the years, both as the Director of the Arabian Sights Film Festival and Deputy Director of Filmfest DC. Ghareeb told the crowd she came to work at Filmfest DC in 1990 for a job she was told would last three months and 23 years later she is still there and still finding a way to bring new work to the city. Oscar-nominated director, Agnieszka Holland, has had work featured on both the big screen and network television. She credited her success to being named Agnes. Her hero growing up was the French director Agnes Varda. “So,” she said, “The best thing to do to be a great director is to have the first name Agnes.” Not having the name Agnes has not stopped WIFV member Aviva Kempner, who produced the tribute to Holland. The video brought to life the scope and the variety of projects Holland has worked on. Among those featured in the vignette was the creator of The Wire, David Simon who said about Holland, “I know she has a vision because she sees right through me.” While most of the evening was devoted to honoring Ghareeb, Parsons, Weber and Holland, WIFV founder Ginny Durrin was also celebrated and received the WIFV President’s Award for her outstanding service to the organization. Regina Reese’s passion for creating art and her moving way of describing her own vision as a young filmmaker earned her a scholarship from Carolyn’s First Decade Fund in honor of WIFV member and filmmaker Carolyn Projansky. WIFV presented Kimberly Merritt with a scholarship from the Randy Goldman Fund. The evening was emceed by WTTG FOX 5 Emmy-award-winning broadcaster, Gwen Tolbart, and brought home for the 19th year in a row how vital WIFV is to the Washington DC area film community. WIFV Advisory Committee member, Michal Carr, said it best when she remarked, “WIFV has defined the film industry in Washington.” Defined it, supported it, embraced it and provided an opportunity for all who have a passion for creativity and filmmaking to share that passion.

About the Writer: Vicki Warren, Women in Film & Video DC Member

Vicki Warren is an award-winning Producer and Journalist. She is most proud of her work as a part of the Here is New York: Voices of 911 project, an audiovisual archive of the stories of 9/11.

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