Film & TV

Adelaide Film Festival: The Leadership

In 2016 the first cohort of female scientists took off to Antarctica under the guidance of leadership expert Fabian Dattner.

Fabian Dattner is a force of nature. A renowned expert on corporate leadership, she is a particular and inspiring presence, consulting to government, private enterprise and not-for-profits. With apparently not enough to do (!) she decided about five years ago to develop Homeward Bound, a program for the development of leadership skills in women, particularly in STEMM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics, medicine). Dattner’s vision was women taking the lead in combating climate change, and other environmental threats. The program’s catch-phrase is “mother nature needs her daughters.”

Fabian Dattner

In 2016 the first cohort participated in online learning, before boarding MV Ushuaia, in Ushuaia Argentina, and heading to Antarctica. On board was filmmaker Ili Baré. This film is the result.

The Leadership is the kind of wonderful documentary that starts in one place, then meanders along several back-roads, before ending up on a major highway. Baré has clearly gone into this hefty project with few preconceived notions of what she is trying to say. She has allowed the story to tell itself, mostly through the words of the women on the program. And, of course, through Antarctica herself.

Dattner approached the first trip as a learning exercise, not just for the participants, but also for herself and her faculty. One of the most gripping aspects of the film is seeing Dattner’s self-examination when she receives negative feedback from some of the women. In teaching leadership, she sees her own style reflected in a none-too-flattering way.

Interviews with various participants give a fascinating insight into the world of science, and its incredibly broad reach. Forget white coats and bubbling beakers: here are women who crawl around collecting soil samples, or spend days observing albatross, or make sense of complicated data. Horrifying too, are the stories of sexual harassment and assault, as well as good-old, everyday sexism.

And Antarctica is, of course, a gift to any film-maker. Baré eschews the visually obvious, whilst still giving us the overwhelming beauty of the last continent, and its truly sublime nature.

Intense, engaging, surprising, and unpredictable, The Leadership is a faultless piece of documentary making, and will surely see Baré forge a brilliant career in film.

The Leadership is currently screening as part of the Adelaide Film Festival.

For screening times, and to book tickets, click here.

Click here for further information.

To read more about Homeward Bound, click here.


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