It should only make sense that the women behind Dish would want to meet at a busy sushi restaurant. Like their film, partners Maya Gallus and Justine Pimlott are colourful, lively and exciting. They are just as interested in asking probing questions about me as I am in them.
Dish is a highlight of the festival. Beautifully shot with a clear line of sight to point and purpose, fast-paced with impressive attention to detail, it feels like prime-time TV. The film is about women servers.
“Waitressing was my first job, and I waitressed for many years,” says director Gallus. “I was interested in looking at the idea of service from a female perspective…. I wanted to look at why this is a female-dominated industry, but only at the low level of the profession: truck stops, cafés, diners. At the higher end of the spectrum, it suddenly becomes a male vocation, a respectable, well-salaried profession.
“I came away with this enormous sense of respect for the lifers, which made me rethink some of my own perceptions,” she continues. “For me, it was a rite of passage, as it is for many women. It was a means to an end. It wasn’t something I would be doing all my life.”
Dish superimposes fancy French waiters who sneer about the things women can’t handle with images of waitresses expertly doing it all. Ungrateful customers roll their eyes with annoyance as we peek at the sheer volume of work undertaken by waitresses to make them happy.
“Sometimes you hear excuses of why women are kept out of the profession at certain levels, but then you see the reality versus the mythology,” says Pimlott. “You see that women can do the job, that there’s no question that women can do the job, there’s just these preconceived notions to live down.”