Sunday, July 13, 2014

#DirectedByWomen - A Global Celebration

As you know, globally, women make far fewer films than men do. And those that we do make often have inadequate marketing budgets and are not well distributed, so often our potential audiences don’t hear about them. This means – as you also know – that it’s very very easy for women directors to be isolated from one another and for traditions of women’s filmmaking to remain partial and fragmented. This is how renowned British director Andrea Arnold described her experience, a few years back–
I always notice how few [films by women] there are at film festivals. I went to Créteil International Women’s Film Festival in France with Wasp [for which she won an Academy Award] in 2004, stayed on for a few days and watched all these films by women. I spent the whole time crying because there were so many films that had so much resonance for me, being female. It actually made me realise how male-dominated the film industry is in terms of perspective. If you think about a film being a very popular and expressive way of showing a mirror on life, we’re getting a mainly male perspective. It’s a shame. I saw a lot of fantastic films at Créteil that I never heard about again. 
Among multiple strategies to bring ‘lost’ films and their women directors into public consciousness, some women create lists of women directors and their work.

Destri Martino is the first director I know of to create this kind of list and I love her current Pinterest board. Beti Ellerson has developed a huge database at African Women in Cinema which includes directors, often represented in video interviews and blog posts. Yvonne Welbon has a list of African American women film directors on Sisters in Cinema. Nordic Women in Film is launching its major site about Nordic women film workers, including directors, in 2015. I have a New Zealand list here.

There are also Wikipedia lists. One has links to individual entries. One lists Indian women directors. There are probably more lists there that I haven’t seen.

Some film sites have lists of women-directed films, too. On those I can access easily here in New Zealand, Ally the Manic List Maker has made a list of films directed by women on MUBI, over 1400 films. And there’s a list of women-directed films on Indiereign.

And now there’s Barbara Ann O’Leary’s work. She’s created Women Film Directors: Active in the Past Decade, on the Internet Movie Database (IMDb). It currently runs at 5,326.

Barbara’s next step is Directed by Women, a worldwide celebration of women directors, September 1-15, 2015, a global viewing party. It's a visionary idea, I reckon.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Anoushka Klaus, from 'Jake'

Anoushka Klaus (photo: Sacha Stejko)

I'm fascinated by actors and how they shift into other roles in filmmaking, especially writing. Anoushka Klaus is a recent find. She's appeared in Shortland Street and Nothing Trivial, in lots of theatre (including Girl In Tan Boots, F*ck Love, Golden Boys and The Sex Show) and in three features, including Bloodlines, written by Donna Malane and Paula Boock (Best Script NZWG awards 2010) and directed by Peter Burger.

Anoushka produced her latest feature, Jake, a sci-fi movie just out in New Zealand. Jake will be playing at the Paramount in Wellington from 11 July, when there'll be a Q & A session hosted by Jonathan King. It's had great reviews–
'Imaginative and endlessly witty.' – Sarah Watt Sunday Star Times
'The smartest bit of low-fi high-IQ science fiction New Zealand has produced.' – David Larsen Listener
'An entertaining and insightful slice of Twilight Zone-ish fun.' Dominic Corry

Tell me a little bit about your pathways, as an actor, and from acting to producing.

I came to acting via a somewhat different route than most, so my journey is actually in the reverse – producing to acting. I always wanted to be an actor but while I was at university I had put on weight and lost the confidence I needed to pursue acting properly. I had an agent and I was creating and performing in plays, singing and dancing publicly but for some reason pursuing acting professionally just became too scary so I turned to directing and producing my own short films for a few years as it seemed the closest I could get to acting without 'acting'.

Then, as fate would have it, I decided to do Meisner as a means of becoming a 'better director' and by the end of the first class I knew I was kidding myself. This was around the time I met Alastair. Al and I were both working at Images & Sound and he was doing the titles for a short film I'd made when he invited me to join Hybrid for their weekend 'filmmaking practices'.

When Jake first came up, I was going to be a much smaller role but we entered the 48hour film competition right before we went into casting and on the strength of my performance Doug offered me the role of Violet.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Gaylene Preston on Her Earthquake Experiences

In an hour the first of three ninety-minute episodes of Gaylene Preston's Hope and Wire will debut on New Zealand television. 

When I saw half of tonight's episode, a while back, I liked how it seemed to bring ALL of Gaylene's skills and experience together in one space in an interesting example of media convergence. Gaylene as a veteran writer/director/producer. Gaylene as doco maker and oral historian. Gaylene as creator of screen fiction. (And Gaylene as enthusiastic community member. As highly politicised community member.)

If you're not familiar with her work, think of Gaylene as a kind of New Zealand Charles Dickens (Oliver Twist, Bleak House, Hard Times). Or Alison Bechdel (Dykes To Watch Out For, Fun Home, Are You My Mother?). Or our very own Callie Khouri (Thelma & Louise, Nashville). I think Hope and Wire may be the work she will be most remembered for.

The run-up to the screening has been quite a trip for Gaylene; she's needed her hard hat. I've been collecting the press articles here and am delighted to reprint one of them, Gaylene's personal earthquakes story. And I think my mate will like it too. The one who used to live in Christchurch. The one who just texted me about wanting and not wanting to watch Hope and Wire. Thanks, GP!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

From The Lighthouse – the Swedish Film Institute's Anna Serner

Anna Serner

I love Le Deuxième Regard, the French network for cinema professionals that aims to challenge ideas about about the place of women in cinema. It's the group (remember?) that made history with the Charte Pour l’Égalité Entre Les Femmes et Les Hommes Dans Le Secteur Du Cinéma, the Charte de l’Égalité for short. This year, it continued its good work within a strong collaborative publishing programme programme from Cannes.

Le Deuxième Regard also produces an excellent monthly newsletter. This month's newsletter features an interview with Anna Serner, director of the Swedish Film Institute, that legendary state funding body where where gender equity policies are more developed than anywhere else in the world – it's a lighthouse for every woman filmmaker in a country which has a state film fund (it also keeps track of gender statistics in some other countries) and maybe a lighthouse for all the other film funds, too. And the results of its policies are beginning to show, as in this year's list of nominations for the Guldbagge Awards.