Sunday, April 29, 2012

Spanish women directors provide an exciting model

Because I speak only English fluently I often miss significant contributions from women in film who work primarily in another language: their films, their analysis, their activism. I'm aware there are amazing things happening at women's film festivals in Asia, for instance, and lots in Europe, too. But it's often a challenge to find details from the other side of the world. In Spain however, CIMA (Asociacion de mujeres cineastas y de medios audiovisuales) —based in Madrid— has initiated a unique and exciting project, the European Network of Women in the Audiovisual World (EWA), and they welcome our participation even if we don't live in Europe. Spread the word?!

Spanish women directors established CIMA (now with hundreds of members) because they observed the very low participation of women in key positions in the Spanish audiovisual industry, the difficulties young women had when they wanted to join the profession and the difficulties women had to maintain a stable career. They were also concerned that as creators women are often ignored or excluded and that most movies and television series include biased and manipulative content that presents unrealistic and sexist stereotypes of women, men, gender relations and how to face the world. None of this is new. But the way CIMA's addressing the issues seems different to me than what's happening in other countries. It's visionary, especially in its global orientation, and its work inspires me.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Deborah Jones & her Glamour & Grind research (podcast)

Associate Professor Deborah Jones of the Victoria Management School was my supervisor before it became possible to do a Creative Writing PhD and I transferred to the International Institute of Modern Letters. She was great, and I've been longing to know more about her Glamour & Grind: New Creative Workers research (with Professor Judith Pringle, and with Ella Henry and Dr Rachel Wolfgramm. Funded by the prestigious Marsden Fund, Glamour & Grind is a just-completed three-year case study which researched the life histories of crews in the New Zealand film industry, in order to develop theories about the identities and careers of 'new' creative workers I wish I'd asked Deborah about who she perceived as 'old' creative workers, and speculate—after editing the recording—that she may mean those who in the past were employees, rather than contract workers, at an organisation like the National Film Unit.  I loved hearing what Deborah had to say in this podcast: about the similarities and differences between work in the film industry and other kinds of work, about networks, gender, family responsibilities, the role of the homosocial in work environments and non-unionised labour. 
Download podcast

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Kirstin Marcon & 'The Most Fun You Can Have Dying'

Kirstin Marcon’s The Most Fun You Can Have Dying, adapted from Steven Gannaway’s novel Seraphim Blues, opens in New Zealand cinemas on 26 April. It’s a special film for me, because it was one of the few women-written features in development at the New Zealand Film Commission (NZFC) when, long ago, I started to analyse the NZFC's investment record. Kirstin’s already written and directed two short films. She’s Racing (2000) screened in competition at Edinburgh Film Festival, Torino Film Festival, and Chicago International Film Festival (where it won a Silver Plaque). It also screened at Telluride Film Festival, with Australian indie hit Chopper. Picnic Stops (2004) was selected for competition and as an official Selection at festivals including the Hof International Film Festival, Germany, Expression en Corto International Film Festival, Mexico, and the Creteil Festival de Femmes.

Kirstin with focus puller Jason White
How did you get into filmmaking?

In the late 70s my dad made an 8mm horror film with the older kids in our country primary school. The whole school trooped into the screening room, and we sat cross-legged on the carpet and watched this mysterious silent film. The children were walking through the forest, and one by one the last child at the back of the line would disappear. I thought it was magic.

The next film I remember is an old British farm safety film called Apache, also a horror, screened a couple of years later on a 16mm projector in the same primary school screening room. In that some children are playing a game on a farm, and one by one they die in gruesome and horrible ways. It gave me nightmares for years. But that’s definitely where it must have begun for me, seeing the power of images on screen.

I wish I could say that as young girl I sat in the dark and realised making films was something a person could do, but the truth is of course I didn’t. I went to film school by accident (starting with a media studies gap year), but somewhere in my first year - in that heady time when you’re 18 and every film you watch makes you rethink everything you know - I fell in love with the idea of making films myself.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

V48 Hours Women (podcast)

I've written about about New Zealand's 48 Hours competition several times (see links below). So few teams have women writers and directors and I believe that this low representation contributes to our minimal participation in feature filmmaking.

This year, I interviewed three 48 Hours women directors, to find out what attracts them to the competition and how they experience it. So here are Francesca Jago, Laurie Wright, Ruth Korver, each inspired by and enthusiastic about 48 Hours (more about them at the links below and in the podcast). And after they have their say, Gaylene Preston, who created the 48 Hours Gaylene Preston Productions/ Women in Film & Television Best Woman Director award. She talks about the award and women's roles in the competition, why she supports the competition and the kinds of things people can do to prepare for it; among other things, she suggests that we watch The Five Obstructions, about a challenge Lars von Trier created for fellow filmmaker Jørgen Leth, his friend and mentor.

Download podcast

Monday, April 2, 2012

Kate Clere McIntyre & 'Yogawoman'

Saraswati Clere, Kate Clere McIntyre and Michael McIntyre  
Kate Clere McIntyre is a New Zealand producer and director who lives in Australia. She will tour New Zealand—Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin—from April 12-19, with Yogawoman ('Never underestimate the power of inner peace') which has had rave reviews and sell out screenings in New York, London, Munich and Melbourne. This from just one review of a New York screening, in Bust:
The most joyful documentary I’ve ever seen...beautiful cinematography, which reveals women who are different ages, sizes, and nationalities, all sharing yoga...The film radiates such positive energy, you can’t help but be moved... 
Yogawoman features Academy Award nominee Annette Bening as narrator. Ever curious about New Zealand women filmmakers, I sent Kate some questions. And was delighted to be offered two double tickets and two DVDs for readers (see below)!

Q: You and Michael McIntyre founded Second Nature Films in 1997, ‘to celebrate the wonders of the natural environment and tell stories of people who are using their lives to make a difference’. What was your filmmaking background before then?

I left New Zealand in 1985 to study theatre in Australia and spent 12 years working as an actor and theatre director across Australia and the Pacific. When I met Michael, who had been working in the film industry for 15 years, we were both using the arts to highlight environmental and social issues. We joined forces and founded Second Nature Films. Our first documentary we co-directed What to do about Whales? filmed in 4 diverse communities across the world including Kaikoura in New Zealand. Since then we have created A Year on the Wing, Gaining Ground, A Hard Place and The Heart of Transformation. A Year on the Wing highlighted the flight of the Eastern Curlew and we began filming with the community of South Auckland living beside the wetlands up through to Russia.

Q: Why Yogawoman?

We were inspired to make Yogawoman, as we recognized that yoga had become a mainstream activity— a multi billion-dollar international industry with 85% of classes filled with women. BUT yoga itself had been originally designed for men and women were definitely not included. How had this happened? How had women reshaped this practice and changed the face of yoga forever? We wanted to tell the story of what women were doing with yoga across the globe to change lives.