Presented as part of the Big West Festival, filmmaker and photojournalist, Melissa Davis has two short documentaries screening, Dumpster To Dinner Plate and End Sexism Now. The latter delves into ‘ordinary sexism’ and institutionalised misogyny that is so prevalent in our society. Dumpster to Dinner Plate on other hand, looks at one household’s approach to shared meals and "dumpster diving." While dealing with two different social issues, they are equally passionate issues that Davis has.
"End Sexism Now is from a much larger documentary I intend to make. The grabs you hear from speakers come from quite meaty, longer interviews, which cover a range of subjects from Tony Abbott, to men's rights, to the importance of language, to the right for a woman leader to be just average instead of exceptional," she says.
Davis' opinion on the prevalence of misogyny has been met with the all too well-known reaction of messages of abuse and hateful comments for a woman daring to seemingly speak out of place. "The internet in a thriving hub of unrestricted hatred and often misogyny. The comments that hurt me the most though are from young women and teenage girls who believe that there is no longer any need for feminism in this day and age. These are the women that I made this video for."
"Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Liz Broderick, describes misogyny as being like asbestos in the walls; we absorb it without realising it. That is why sexism is not just some thing men do to women; it is also something women do to one another and, most damagingly of all, to themselves. The result is that we unconsciously assume that men – particularly white, middle-class men – have merit until they prove other wise," Davis explains. "What's worse is, just as men assumed to have merit will be given the benefit of the doubt long past deserving it, so women will have to prove their merit over and over and over again. Exceptional women can and do get promoted, but any mistake or lackluster performance will be taken as evidence that not only are they hopeless but, just as we thought, so are all other women.”
In Dumpster to Dinner Plate, the issue of food and consumption is quite literally closer to home for Davis. "The sharehouse in the documentary was my own sharehouse in North Melbourne. We, as a community of housemates experimented with alternate ways of living which included hosting dozens of couchsurfers, upcycling, dumpster diving and communal meals," Davis explains. "The experiments didn't always work, but we all learned a great deal in that time. And the memories are going to be great fodder for a book later down the track."
Davis, who has received an award from Heartfelt for significant contribution to issues of social justice through photography, hopes to similarly drive an awareness of the issues around these two documentaries. "I believe that the biggest responsibility we have to ourselves and to each other is to learn, about everything. Tolerance and ignorance are inversely proportional. So the best I could ask for is that people who come to see my videos walk away thinking "Well, you learn something new everyday!" or "Gee, I never thought of it like that..."
Venue: VU at Metro West, 138 Nicholson Street, Footscray
Season: 21 - 28 November | Mon - Fri 9am-5pm, Sat 10am - 3pm
Info: Dumpster to Dinner Plate and End Sexism Now