Tuesday, May 29, 2012

OUT TAKES 2012 & Jill Livestre

Still from Mosquita Y Mari
Each year I receive great emails from Jill Livestre, about the films I might enjoy at Out Takes, New Zealand's Reel Queer Film Festival, on in Auckland right now and opening tomorrow in Wellington. Many of the films in the festival will otherwise never reach a big screen here. (And because we're such a small country any 'niche' festival is challenging to organise sustainably. So I imagine that there are gaps because some films are unaffordable.) I treasure Out Takes, partly because it's the closest New Zealand has to a women's film festival: our last women's festival was Mahi Ata Mahi Atua: Women's Work in Film in 2003.

Last year I was disappointed that Out Takes included few films directed by women and that the directors and actors were overwhelmingly white. But the gender mix this year is amazing and wonderful. Here are the stats, with last year's in brackets. Narrative films (long): twelve (22). Woman-directed: five, 41% (8%). Half of all the features have women as protagonists compared with 22% last year. There are eighteen docos. Women direct seven, or 39%, and co-direct two more, so are engaged with half. And I've interviewed Jill Livestre. We discuss the festival's context, and a selection of the features and docos. Some details below.

Download podcast here
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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Leonie Reynolds & Jo Randerson: 'Disappear in Light'


Leonie Reynolds

Leonie Reynolds is a scriptwriter and documentary filmmaker. Her documentaries and a short comedy have played on New Zealand television and in festivals both in New Zealand and overseas and her first documentary, Hard Words, won the Rangatahi Award at the New Zealand Media Peace Awards.

Leonie’s worked as a storyliner and dialogue scriptwriter for South Pacific Pictures’ Shortland Street and as a journalist, Leonie has written on theatre and film for many publications.

Leonie’s Disappear in Light has just had its premiere at New Zealand’s Documentary Edge Festival. It’s an observational documentary about writer, performer and producer Jo Randerson and her largest scale theatre work to date:  Good Night - The End,  a black comedy about death, and about what it means to engage with life. A woman filmmaker’s film about a woman writer is a rare event and I’ve been celebrating.

Why did you want to make a film about Jo?
I’ve been an admirer of Jo’s writing ever since I read her short fiction collection The Spit Children. I felt like I was in the presence of a really unique and compelling voice, a wonderful strangeness. And she’s just as compelling onstage, as a performer. I hoped other people would be just as intrigued as I was to go on the journey of getting to know Jo and her creative process a bit better.

No blood, little sleep, & a new Bechdel Test film


We get Crime at 48 Hours. (Whew. We could have got Inspirational...) Deep gratitude for protagonist and other preparation, generous gift of remarkable poem. *And* we don't need to make blood.

Input from three others on core team, in person and on Skype. First draft to them around 10.30 pm. Rewrite done by 2.20 am, via email, phone, and in person with core team neighbour. Sleep interrupted by new lines of dialogue and small structural change.

All to Radio Access Wellington in the morning. The delights of a familiar, warm, and well-serviced indoor single location, fantastic crew, wonderful cast. Hang purple-painted canvas.

Steady schedule to around 1.45 am. Final image: a sterling crew member vaccuuming the studio.

Core team home. Listen to music files from fourth core team member, who's been working hard at home up the coast. Import, watch and annotate two hours and eight minutes of tapes. Regrets that we have too much footage to be sure that we'll always select best options.

Inhale stew etc around 5 am. Neighbour off home 6-ish for nap. I have a bath-and-sleep (from hot to lukewarm water). Dogged editor–who had gruelling day in other roles–continues.

I walk around waterfront to outdoor Sunday market, to get supplies. Cook omlets and have discussion. A low point. We may not get it done. Dogged editor calculates that his current functionality fluctuates between 5 and 50% of normal. Energising return third core team member.

Noon, family visit for editor. Lift in energy. Arrival core team music-maker. More lift in energy. Reduce edit from nine to seven minutes. Heart-breaking losses of various much-loved elements. Gratitude for improvements.

Addition music. Listen-and-watch. Hair rises on heads. Add and amend. Lock-off. Export. Watch. Tears in eyes. Applause-handshakes-and-hugs.

Delivery time: 6.20pm. A new Bechdel Test film reaches the world. Quiet joy. Much love for everyone who contributed.

Now. Find out who owns the beautiful bag in the kitchen. Finish cleaning the kitchen. (Big thank you to whoever did the dishes!) Dismantle the blood-making tray.

PS A week later. Very happy to have had the opportunity to experiment with lovely people who know what they're doing. To have written my first short script. To have written a script that others contributed to. To have finished a script that I'd never have begun if left to myself at my worktable. To have helped make a wee film in a location that I'm using for another script. To have learned more about sound. To have seen the outcome on the big screen. *And* to know for sure that a page of script does not necessarily equate to a minute of screen-time. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Will There Be Blood?



In thirty-six hours, I'll write a 48 Hours script. A short. Scary. I was an assistant writer for five minutes last year, but I've never written a short before, though I've practised a bit over the last few weeks, working with the team to create a protagonist who can move across genres. And usually I write in the morning, edit in the arvo, so my body clock isn't oriented to Friday night writing!

This morning I'm preoccupied with BLOOD. Just in case we get a bloody genre (twelve genres, assigned at random). I have a recipe with corn syrup. A recipe with golden syrup. Another one with chocolate syrup. But I need blue and red dye. Or blue and red paint. I have only alizarin crimson oil paint. Will have to go out. Sigh.

Also want to paint the old canvas that Bridie Lonie made into a beautiful painting after we performed on it. Purple on its back, to cut out the white in one location. Just in case.

Here we are performing. And GULP, I may be performing again (but will probably keep my clothes on)--

Bridie & I perform: canvas behind us.
Otherwise, things are coming together. Team: yes, yes, yes, am so lucky to be part of it–know that I'll learn a lot and laugh a lot. Choice of locations: yes. Special (versatile) prop: yes. Food: yes. Equipment: yes. Warm clothes: yes. (Many thanks, A., for your annual delivery, including this year a felt flower with personality.) And have just realised we might even make a Bechdel Test film--


PS Just found out! A 48 Hours Wellington blog. One of the bloggers is Ruth Korvet, who was a participant in Women-directors-in-the-48-Hours podcast a while back!

PPS And this is what happened: No Blood, Little Sleep, & A New Bechdel Test Film!

Cannes & Women Directors


The art work for the card that Destri Martino is taking to Cannes
It's the first day of the Cannes Film Festival 2012 and I'm thrilled that New Zealand film reviewer Sarah Watt is there and blogging. So is Destri Martino, whose short film The Director is screening in the Emerging Directors programme at the American pavilion and in the Short Film Corner. Destri's UNGLAM CANNES blog is wonderful, totally endearing for any woman who makes films and would like to go to Cannes, a real insiders guide.

There are no women in competition for the Palme d'Or this year again, after a better year last year, and the protests are rising. From French women, for the first time that I'm aware of, and two of the authors, Virginie Despentes and Coline Serreau are directors, another lovely example of European women directors' activism to add to what I know of the Spanish women directors at CIMA. (The third author, Fanny Cottençon, is a comedienne).* As in Spain, these courageous directors can also depend on support from feminists who aren't filmmakers: we can sign a petition here, organised by the French feminist group La Barbe (The Beard). Melissa Silverstein from Women & Hollywood has also organised a petition, continuing the good work initiated by Ruth Torjussen's You CANNES Not Be Serious campaign in 2010. I've signed both petitions with enthusiasm.

In a response to the French article, Thierry Fremaux, the Cannes Festival CEO, stated that it isn't just Cannes in May that's the problem, the problem exists all year. I'd add to his statement, that the problem exists everywhere all year: it's not just Cannes and France. (But this doesn't let Cannes off the hook. Nor Thierry Fremaux.) This week too, Ms magazine has a new article about Hollywood's 'war on women', following the latest research from the indefatigable Martha Lauzen. And because the problems are global, systemic and year round, is it possible that Cannes-oriented protests won't be effective? What other strategies might work? Here are some suggestions.


Sunday, May 6, 2012

'Women: An Exhibition'; & 'All Woman: A Modern Portrait of New Zealand Women'

     


No podcast this week. Probably no post next week. Taking a break.

If you're in Wellington, or planning a trip, you might like to visit Women: An Exhibition. As well as work from the guest artists and recent work from others, there's a small selection of work made during New Zealand's women's art movement of the 1970s and 1980s: Joanna Margaret Paul's Nappies film (1977) and her No 1 painting from 1979, some Allie Eagle work, a Heather McPherson poem. I made a little book which includes a brief gender analysis of Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand's contribution to Google Art (not good news).

And there's a rare opportunity to see Maria MacKay's Schema (2001) and to buy one of only five prints made. This isn't a great reproduction below as the colours are off; it will reward a close look in the gallery. More Maria paintings here.


Meanwhile, just along the road at the New Zealand Portrait Gallery, Bev Short's 'All Woman: A Modern Portrait of New Zealand Women' photography exhibition. Looks terrific and has an accompanying programme of talks. Bev Short blogs about the opening here.



LINK
New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts site.