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Zazie Beetz and Stephanie Hsu Support Women at Chanel Through Her Lens – The Hollywood Reporter

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“Trump was indicted yesterday — and again — as Paula likes to remind me,” said Jane Rosenthal as she kicked off her speech Friday afternoon at the ninth annual Chanel Through Her Lens luncheon. The remark drew a roomful of boisterous cheers at New York’s The Odeon restaurant. “So, this seems like a good day for women.”

Paula is Paula Weinstein, and this pair of powerful women and best friends are the venerated one-two punch of the Tribeca Film Festival. Rosenthal, whose producing work includes The Irishman and The Good House, is one of the festival’s co-founders, while Weinstein — the producer behind The Perfect Storm, Grace and Frankie and other hits — has been the executive vice president at Tribeca Enterprises since 2013. For anyone wondering if Rosenthal’s Trump comment went over well, consider that this annual festival luncheon, to celebrate the Chanel-sponsored Through Her Lens program, is rooted in a philosophy of empowering women, hence the appreciation in the room for a dig against the twice-indicted former POTUS who was found liable for sexual abuse and defamation against E. Jean Carroll on May 9.

Janet Yang, Stephanie Hsu, Misty Copeland and Lily Rabe

Janet Yang, Stephanie Hsu, Misty Copeland and Lily Rabe at Chanel’s Through Her Lens luncheon.

Jamie McCarthy/WireImage (4)

Of course, there are plenty of organic reasons to cheer at this event, which invites every woman who’s had her work accepted at the festival for an afternoon of networking with a variety of filmmakers at all stages of their careers. This year’s list includes 2023 Through Her Lens co-chairs A.V. Rockwell and Greta Lee. Rockwell is a writer-director and former Through Her Lens participant, who captured the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance in April for her film A Thousand and One, while Lee stars in the just-opened Past Lives, directed by Celine Song. Directors Patty Jenkins and Kathryn Bigelow were also in attendance alongside Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences president Janet Yang, Katie Holmes, Oscar nominee Stephanie Hsu and Yellowstone’s Kelsey Asbille and Piper Perabo.

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This event is always a crush, but if The Odeon was especially crowded this year, there was good reason: 68 percent of the films in this year’s competition were directed by women, reported Cara Cusumano, the festival’s director and vice president of programming. While the festival has long strived for and achieved gender parity, this year’s number was a delightful surprise for everyone involved. “It was late in the process when I started thinking, ‘Wow, we’re seeing a lot of great films by women,’” Cusumano told The Hollywood Reporter. “I didn’t want to think about it too much, though. I compared it to pitching a no-hitter — you don’t want to jinx anything. Once we locked the program and crunched the numbers in early May, we realized that women accounted for 68 percent. It’s an amazing year.”

As Weinstein expounded to THR on the red carpet, “We’re always conscious of reaching out to all communities to ensure we’re inclusive. But when it comes down to the crunch, there’s only one question: Is the movie good enough? We’re thrilled with the number of women represented this year, but even better, the competition is extraordinary.”

Lily Rabe is among the women debuting her first directorial feature at this year’s festival. Her film, Downtown Owl, in which she also co-stars with Ed Harris, Henry Golding, Vanessa Hudgens and Finn Wittrock, is based on the 2009 Chuck Klosterman novel and premiered Thursday evening, June 8. “I feel like it’s a night I’ll never forget,” Rabe said on the red carpet. “I’ve never seen it with that many people, so it was incredible to spend time after and hear everyone’s unique and personal experience with it.”

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Rabe also loved the timing of the Through Her Lens luncheon, because having attended past iterations of this event confirmed she’d be in warm, welcoming company. “I can’t think of a better room to be in the day after our premiere,” she added.

Zazie Beetz, wearing CHANEL, attends the CHANEL Tribeca Festival Women's Lunch to celebrate the "Through Her Lens" Program at Odeon on June 09, 2023 in New York City.

Zazie Beetz at Chanel’s Through Her Lens luncheon at The Odeon.

Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage

Through Her Lens: The Tribeca Chanel Women’s Filmmaker Program takes place across three days each fall, though organizers noted this year’s event could be delayed as a sign of solidarity if the WGA strike continues. Five teams of women — a writer-director paired with a producer — participate in a series of Through Her Lens workshops, mentoring sessions and peer networking to pitch and refine their short-film projects. A total of $100,000 is awarded across the five teams, with one team in the juried program receiving full funding to complete their project. Friday’s event is an opportunity to both celebrate the program and offer additional networking for Tribeca Film Festival participants. “It’s so great to have a group of powerful women all in a room together supporting each other,” said Zazie Beetz. “I really believe one person’s success isn’t your lack and to show up for people is just a wonderful thing.”

Hsu, a best supporting actress nominee this year for Everything Everywhere All at Once, agreed. “It’s no secret that we need spaces like this to celebrate each other and empower each other,” she said. “It’s wonderful for everyone that we’re seeing so much movement in the right direction.”

Rosenthal and Weinstein have witnessed that forward progress via front-row seats. Perabo, a member of the festival’s jury set to present the Nora Ephron Award for women filmmakers, recalled on the red carpet that she met Rosenthal when she was making her first independent feature at Universal. “And you,” she said, pointing at Rosenthal, who has two now-adult daughters, “had a playpen next to your desk. I remember thinking, this is how you have it all.”

Piper Perabo, wearing CHANEL, attends the CHANEL Tribeca Festival Women's Lunch to celebrate the "Through Her Lens" Program at Odeon on June 09, 2023 in New York City.

Piper Perabo

Jamie McCarthy/WireImage

“My second daughter was about a year old,” Rosenthal said of Perabo’s memory. “Today, you’re seeing more and more women filmmakers, and not just directors, but DPs and in all other areas behind the camera. And we see an event like Through Her Lens as a place of discovery for new talent. We believe wholeheartedly in support for every woman, and you do it by looking both to the person on your right and the person on your left. It’s not going to get done any other way.”

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