November Meeting Recap: From Buffy to the Bloodsucking 2016 Election: The Path to Female Empowerment

Archive blog post header image with old card catalog in background

By Lisa Matsumoto, Public Relations & Communications Intern

In the wake of the 2016 American presidential election, we welcomed Fran Rubel Kuzui, a movie director and producer, to our meeting on November 10th to discuss female empowerment. From Tokyo Pop to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Ms. Kuzui has paved the way for not just fictional strong female characters, but also for women in the film industry.

The meeting started off with a small activity. Ms. Kuzui got up and drew a line on the whiteboard and asked how to make the line shorter without erasing it. As many of us pondered on the question, a member of the audience stood up and drew a longer line above the line. We can’t change what’s already happened, but there are ways to overcome it with doing bigger, greater things.

Fran Rubel Kuzui’s life has been far from ordinary. She found herself working as an “ass. prod.”, getting fired from PBS for being “too liberal” and falling in love at first sight with her husband. She grew up at a time when fax machines were magical devices that provided non-confrontational confrontations, when interracial marriage was still a great deal and when women were still taking the back seat. Although she didn’t have any prior knowledge when it came to selling movies, Ms. Kuzui decided to distribute films; American films into Japan and Japanese films into the U.S. After she brought a Japanese film to the Cannes Film Festival where it won first prize, the path was set for her and her husband to found Kuzui Enterprises, a film distribution company.

Ms. Kuzui changed the initially “stupid girl” that was supposed to be Buffy into an empowered young woman who would have to take on many responsibilities and brought her to life by making many sacrifices. That is her key to everything: to let go. “The process of letting go and not holding onto what you want” is how Fran Rubel Kuzui empowers herself.

Although the shock of the election loomed, the audience seemed to be empowered by Ms. Kuzui’s words. Women have become so much stronger in society. Buffy is now used as an important text to understand the waves of feminism as Kristie Collins, a professor from the University of Tsukuba, mentioned.

We are eager to see more of Ms. Kuzui’s work and anxious to see where the future takes us. Fran Rubel Kuzui said how she had always been helped and supported by other women to survive in her industry. The fight for women has just begun. We are stronger together.