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Showing posts from May, 2009

New Zealand women playwrights

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The latest issue of the Playmarket magazine has an article by playwright Branwen Millar. There she is in the pic. (She also wrote one of the Short Film Fund films I wrote about the other day, and we both did the scriptwriting MA with the wonderful Ken Duncum at Victoria University's Institute of Modern Letters, but in different years, so I don't know her.)
In her article, Branwen starts: "As an emerging playwright, I'm excited by the huge talent and diversity of our writers. As a woman, I'm disheartened".
She acknowledges that she has "a massive amount of support for my writing" but is "at a loss when I look at the landscape I'm entering". She provides some grim statistics about women playwrights' representation in productions and awards and writes:Where are the female voices in our theatres? Is it that men are better writers? Do men write faster and therefore have more plays? Receive more support? Are women one-hit wonders? Why do …

Women @ Cannes

A great roundup article here, by Sophie Ivan. Tx Little White Lies; Truth & Movies.
She also wrote about a Birds Eye View panel of women filmmakers. Tx Birds Eye View.

And there's another article here, by Abigail Tartellin. Tx Women & Hollywood.
And finally, a couple of articles about a party given by documentary director Angela Ismailos. She has just made Great Directors, and included two women among the nine directors she interviewed: Agnes Varda and Catherine Breillat.
I liked these articles because both writers talk with/about Catherine Breillat. I have a very beautiful poster for her Sex is Comedy in my hall, right opposite one for Agnes Varda's The Gleaners & I. I've read and been told that women writers and directors are represented much more strongly in France than elsewhere, and I can't remember reading anything a French woman has said about sexism in their industry. So I heard Catherine Breillat's voice like a tiny exciting whisper, and look for…

Women artists in public museums

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Tonight, elles@centrepompidou will open at the Pompidou Centre in Paris. It includes over 500 works from its collection, by 200 women artists. elles@centrepompidou will last for a year, with periodic additions and rotations of artworks. A fine addition to any woman traveller's itinerary, along with the European women's film festivals. I've often wondered if somewhere there's travel agent who specialises in women's culture tours. Anyway, you can read about elles@centrepompidou in a great article from the Los Angeles Times by Suzanne Muchnic, & buy a ticket online.
I so wish I could be there, after a week spent writing far too much about We are unsuitable for framing at Te Papa Tongarewa , our national museum and art gallery (until July 27). We are unsuitable for framing, like elles@centrepompidou, includes only works by women, but is presented as an exhibition about identity rather than a women's, or feminist, exhibition.
And, in Suzanne Muchnic's article…

Out Takes 2009: A Reel Queer Film Festival

Out Takes 2009 has started in Auckland and will run there till 1 June. It starts in Wellywood—at my favorite movie place, the Paramount—28 May, and ends 7 June.
I'm looking forward to writer/director Shamim Sarif's The World Unseen (2007) and I Can't Think Straight (2008), both based on her own novels. How amazing that we can see them both in the same week. And how does any filmmaker manage two features in a year or so?
Shamim Sarif explains how she did it in a Women & Hollywood interview with Melissa Silverstein. And it probably helps that she and Hanan Kattan own their own multi-media entertainment company Enlightenment Productions, based in London and Los Angeles, a kind of autonomy that I hope hope hope will become more common.
Here's the I Can't Think Straight trailer:

Auckland Tuesday 26 May, 8.35pm. Wellington Tuesday 2 June 8.35pm.
And here's a "Making of" about The World Unseen.




The Armstrong and Arthur Charitable Trust For Lesbians will h…

Short Film Fund decisions: NZ Film Commission opts to fund men and women equally?

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It's that logo again! And more great news for women filmmakers.

Every year, the New Zealand Film Commission appoints three executive producer groups to select and  manage a total of nine projects funded through the Short Film Fund. Over the last few years, this programme has invested much less in projects written and directed by women than in projects written and directed by men (see 28 April post).

In this year's short list, of twenty-seven films, twenty-four had only male or only female storytellers (writers and directors). But just seven of these single gender projects (29%) had only women as the storytellers. Seventeen single gender projects had only men. So I sighed, and thought, oh, nothing's changed. 

But the Film Commission has now announced eight of the nine greenlit projects—the ninth due shortly—in its latest newsletter. And YAY women wrote and directed four (57%) of the single gender projects selected and a woman will direct a fifth project, that she co-wrote wi…

Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls (cont'd)

After four weeks in New Zealand cinemas, Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls has taken $1 million. That's a big audience for a country with a total population of around 4 million and takes it almost into the dozen all-time top grossing New Zealand films (domestically).

In comparison, last year's big hit Secondhand Wedding reached $1million after seven weeks. And back in 2003, after four weeks, Whale Rider had grossedaround $1.5million. I'm fascinated bywhat will happen next, especially as I've got lots of mates who haven't yet seen Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls and really want to go. Will it sell into the United States and other countries at Cannes? I hope so.

And now the Topps have a YouTube channel. Lots of great clips.

Tweet tweet tweet, or as an NZer might say Tui tui tui

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OK, I'm sold. Twitter's got my big gold star, because it's giving me more than enough useful info to make it worthwhile.
A little while ago I met Grietje Keller through Twitter, and admired the visual images in her blog but couldn't read it because the words are written in Dutch. Grietje referred me on to a Netherlands International Women's Centre and Archive with a site in English, a wonderful place. Then Grietje sent out a tweet about a US exhibition, of new feminist videos, called Reflections on the Electric Mirror: New Feminist Video, at the Brooklyn Museum in New York(May 1, 2009–January 10, 2010—Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, 4th Floor— with an 'interesting' New York Times review and a New York Magazine article about one of the artists, Kate Gilmore.)

Jen DeNike (American, b. 1971). Still from Happy Endings, 2006. Video, color, sound, 1 min. 5 sec. Courtesy of the artist and Smith-Stewart, New York
This is the image that appealed to me mos…

A short master class... & women as producers and decision makers

Love this Clare O'LearyScreenTalk interview with the versatile Vanessa Alexander (producer, writer, director, academic, one of two women on the eight-person NZFC Board). Writer/director of the female buddy film Magik & Rose. Producer of the multi-award-winning Being Eve, nominated for an Emmy. And so on.The interview's like a short master class about what's worked for her as a filmmaker. She talks about:· Being persistent;· Taking risks; and·  How men helped her early on.The help from men especially interests me at the moment. One of my research findings (to be written up for mid-September) is that women producers, and other women decision-makers, are often not interested in films written and directed by women, or in helping develop women’s scripts with women as strong central characters. It’s the same in other parts of the world.I learned a little bit about how this happens last year. I was concentrating hard on a challenging left-brain task. And someone in …

Simone Horrocks' After the Waterfall; & A special day

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A lovely day!

A new feature with a woman writer/director starts production! Have put a little button on the sidebar and will add more links when they're available.

After the Waterfall is Simone Horrocks' adaptation of Stephen Blanchard's The Paraffin Child.
And there's an historic moment to celebrate. The NZFC site lists fourteen recent features —including docos—it has funded, either in production or released. Six have women directors (a seventh is in pre-production). This is a long way from a comment I heard from a woman filmmaker almost three years ago: " 'They' can only cope with one of us at a time." 
Another filmmaker said then: "If the NZFC knows there is a gender problem, the decision-makers will fix it." Has this happened? Has it made any difference, measuring and writing about the NZFC gender statistics? I may never know. When I started, probably all of these films were already in development. But now, as I write up my thesis, I have a …

Interview with Agnès Varda - Les Plages d'Agnès

Yes, the interview's in French & I struggle to understand some of it, but Agnes Varda's eighty year old joie de vivre inspires me and reminds me that filmmaking is fun. And —what a treat—her latest film, The Beaches of Agnes,is coming to the New Zealand International Film Festivals, traveling the country from July 10-November 26, here in Wellywood from July 18-August 3. NZFF director Bill Gosden writes:Agnès Varda was the lone female amongst the New Wave directors who shook up French cinema and helped set the agenda for the cultural revolution in the 60s. At almost 80 she has created a playfully idiosyncratic memoir of her sentimental education and life as an artist. Responding eagerly to the possibilities offered by digital technology, she sets up tableaux that recall her earlier work and places herself within her old photographs and extracts from her films (Vagabond, The Gleaners and I and many more). She revisits old haunts to reminisce fondly with collaborators she'…