Tahyna MacManus Is Striving to Rebrand the Term “Strong Woman” In Filmmaking

Tahyna MacManus
Instagram @Tahyna MacManus

Tahyna MacManus started her film and TV career as a teen in the popular TV Series, Blue Water High. Since then, the filmmaker, producer and model has not only starred in front of the camera but behind-the-scenes as well.

Her most recent project was the very personal Misunderstandings of Miscarriage (released on Stan), alongside producer Kelly Tomasich. In the feature documentary, MacManus shared her four-year experience of pregnancy and loss, a story that was not only incredibly moving but relatable for many women.

“I’m always looking for something that I feel I can relate to, that excites me, that I know other women can relate to,” MacManus told POPSUGAR Australia about her creative journey.

In honour of this type of storytelling, MacManus and Tomasich have birthed a new project — the Australian Women’s Film Festival (AWFF) —which is set to launch on Sunday, March 14, 2021.

“We were talking one day, and we were trying to kind of understand where the industry was going and that’s where the AWFF was born,” she said. “We wanted to create something that not only showcased female stories on screen that were interesting and compelling, but we also wanted to celebrate filmmakers behind the lens.”

Submissions have to have three of five key creatives (writer, director, producer, DOP and editor) that are female-identifying, while another part of the criteria for the festival is that the film must pass the Bechdel Test — which measures the representation of women in fiction and asks whether a work features at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man.

“We just really wanted to strive for a very female-centric story,” she said.

Tahyna and Kelly. Supplied.

In terms of film making in general, MacManus thinks there’s a “huge shift coming” in relation to the “male-dominated” industry.

“I’ve really seen that shift start to happen over the last few years,” the mother-of-two said. “There’s really been more of a focus on what women bring to the table and I only see that growing. Certainly, from my experience very early on, it was a very male-dominated industry.”

While going through submissions for the festival, MacManus was taken aback by the undeniably powerful stories that she was seeing.

“I found that as an actress as well, the term ‘strong woman’ is sort of thrown around a lot. i.e. she’s a cop — she’s a strong woman. And I’m like, ‘What does that mean?’ That a mum at home isn’t a strong woman? What’s her story? What has she got to say?'”

“Everyone’s got an incredible story to tell and I just feel like that’s what we’re all about. We’re about celebrating all those interesting stories, and in whatever way that is.”

For more information and award categories please head to AWFF.

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