Geek Girls sounds like a film that would be right up our street doesn’t it? Well quelle surprise, it is! Director Gina Hara spent the past few years investigating the secret world of lady gamers, scientists and comic-fanatics, piecing her findings together in an insightful documentary that highlights the many barriers feminism still needs to do battle with. A self-confessed “geek girl”, Gina chats to Hannah Clugston about her heroes and how it’s a good idea to break the rules.
Plus, Gina would like to invite you – yes YOU – to the world premiere of Geek Girls this Sunday at Sheffield Doc/Fest, where Girl Gang Sheffield will be hosting the Q+A following the screening.
HC: How did Geek Girls come about?
GH: I studied film production and I did a lot of research on geek culture through anime and Japanese cinema, and I decided to make a film since I am not an academic. The film was supposed to be about geek culture in general but I started running into all these obstacles. I noticed I had very little access – a lot of men just didn’t want to show me this side of themselves. However, I had a very easy time with women and the feminist inside me said “oh my God, I have this amazing access to talk about all these wonderful women” – so I decided to make a point and make a film about how women are treated in this culture and how they experience being a geek.
HC: Would you call yourself a geek girl?
GH: Yeah I think so… No! The answer is “yes”.
HC: Why do you think the female side of the geek world is so hidden?
GH: I think, traditionally geek culture is something that belongs to men and women often don’t feel welcomed in this space because they are used to just representing the object of desire or some kind of object to motivate the player within the story. And that’s not necessarily a welcoming environment, so I feel like women were very quiet about being geeks. But, now that women are proudly saying “yes I am geek, I love comics, I love games” there has been a backlash – and we are speaking in very recent years. 2014 was a really awful year for women in games; there were lots of terrible threats and violence. Men and people against diversity within the gaming industry really spoke up against welcoming women. Now women are coming out of this geek closet, the problems are very apparent, even though that problem has been there the whole time.
HC: Do you think the tech world is a bit behind when it comes to feminism?
GH: I do think tech is behind, but it’s not alone. There’s lots more for feminism to do and lots more room for improvement in a lot of traditionally male-dominated fields. I think this includes games and science, and even film. There are a lot of feminist filmmakers that have been speaking up about the issues within the film industry as well.
HC: If there’s one thing you think could really break down these barriers, what would it be?
GH: I think it’s important to know that you can break the rules, because the system is not set up for women or people of colour so you can’t win a game that was not made for you. You can’t play the game of life – you can’t win – if the game was not set up for you.
HC: What do you hope audiences will take from this film?
GH: First of all, I really hope that they learn a bit about geek culture, and understand that it’s not some weird, creepy thing. The premise of the film is about the fact we all seek something, and everyone finds it in different things, so we need to understand our differences and celebrate them instead of seeing them as something to frown upon. I just want us to learn about each other and accept each other – I don’t think it’s just about “geeks”.
HC: Who is your geek girl hero?
GH: I have to say, I have been immensely inspired by the women I met through making this film – so all of them. And there are so many other women out there who we couldn’t include because the film is just an hour and a half long. But, if I had to pick one right now, I’d say Dr. Anita Sengupta – I found her story really uplifting and I really hope she becomes an astronaut one day because that would just be amazing.
HC: How do you feel ahead of the world premiere of your first feature film at Sheffield Doc/Fest this weekend?
GH: I am really excited and honoured, and I hope that we are going to have a lot of people come and see the film. I have received a lot of messages from like geeky and feminist groups from England, so I hope they are going to come and let other people know about it.
Geek Girls screens as part of Sheffield Doc/Fest, World Premiere + Girl Gang Q+A: Sunday 11 June 12pm, The Light Cinema 6, Second Screening: Monday 12 June 9am, Curzon Screen 1. Tickets here: https://sheffdocfest.com/events/5622