Saturday, August 30, 2014

Ally Acker's 'Reel Herstory'



I fell over Ally Acker’s work via this tweet. Not Ally’s tweet, you’ll notice, because she doesn’t engage with social media, which may be why I missed her before.


I was immediately curious about Ally's extraordinary magnum opus, Reel Women, the two-volume revised and expanded book and the 10 discs (see below) and the forthcoming Reel Herstory: The REAL Story of Reel Women. Introduced by Jodie Foster, Reel Herstory is a feature-length documentary that runs two and a half hours. It's in two parts. The first covers The Silent Era and the second Talkies Through Today (first ten minutes below).

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Kano Life

Kano – outside Gidan Almajirai, the House of Scholars

I love quest movies. Why don't we have more movies about women's quests, beyond romance-quests? I love road movies, too. There aren't enough of them with women protagonists. That's one reason I'm so excited by Afia Nathaniel's Dukhtar, debuting at Toronto, released in Pakistan soon and here on Facebook.

When Fiona Lovatt and I re-met on Facebook, after thirty years of no contact, she sent me an image for my
Keeping An Eye On The Washing board. Then she arrived at my place and I asked her probably too many questions. And when I heard her stories, their quest elements and their road elements enthralled me. 

Before Fiona left for Nigeria, for a third period living in Kano, an ancient northern city with a population of over 4 million, I asked her a few more questions. I'm delighted that she transcends them and that her Facebook page contributes fragments of dialogue with others – persevere with the small print, it's worth it. Please introduce yourself to Fiona on Facebook if you'd like to friend her and join the conversation.  A 'Fiona Lovatt & Kano' Pinterest board provides more images and commentary, here.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Safety in Paradise?

Eleven photo: Jimena Murray
Children play in safety on the beach beyond my window. Some aren't safe at home, but they do not die in rocket attacks. Along our promenade, this year’s most sustained sirens wailed from motorbike cavalcades, as they escorted royalty to and from the airport. At school, our children may arrive hungry. But they're safe from abduction. The closest I’ve ever been to a war is my parents' silence about 'their' war, refuge women's stories about men returned from wars and Bruce Cunningham’s stories, after I met him selling Anzac poppies. (He was a Lancaster pilot in World War II and then a prisoner-of-war and I’m making a short doco about him.)

Yes, in many ways Wellington, New Zealand is paradise and I’m blessed to live here and to benefit from love and generosity from women and men, my beautiful sons now among those men. But in an interview with Matthew Hammett Knott earlier this year, I found myself saying–
We have to deal with serial violation, direct and subtle, on a daily basis. We may have learned the truth that golden boys usually win. So we have to apportion our energies and manage risk with great care. 
I met a friend in the street recently, who’d been active in a campaign around violence against women. You’ve been busy, I said. Yes, he said, I’ll be glad to get back to normal. And I realised that for women, there is often no ‘normal’ like his to get back to. Certainly not for me. I don’t see myself as a victim – I’m too committed to problem solving. But because ‘normal’ is living among actual and attempted violation of women, like many women I’m very careful to expose myself to more risk only when I have appropriate support in place.
This post is a continuation of that conversation with Matthew. It also attempts to understand the mechanisms that institutions use to compromise the well-being of women and girls, even when those women and girls know how to care for themselves. This is a #longread. It moves from Air New Zealand to the New Zealand International Film Festival to conditions around the insertion and removal of vaginal mesh. It's also a tiny tribute to Jacqui Scott and the Mesh Warriors and Mesh Angels around the world who continue to support her quest for survival and health.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Jennifer Kent & 'The Babadook'

Jennifer Kent
Another wonderful interview from Le Deuxième Regard's newsletter, with many thanks to them. Australian Jennifer Kent's The Babadook is touring New Zealand in the New Zealand International Film Festival – other international release dates below.

The Babadook goes very deep into the themes of insanity and motherhood. How did this story come to you?

I've always felt passionately about the need to face the difficulties of life. Facing the darkness, I feel, actually allows us to more fully embrace the joys as well. I think in some cases, suppressing difficulties can also be the catalyst for mental illness. Keeping all this in mind, I was fascinated to explore a character who was suppressing her difficulties, and in particular, one very traumatic event. I wanted to see where this denial and suppression would take her. This is how the story began for me.

Having said that, I never felt judgemental towards Amelia for suppressing. She had suffered enormously and it made sense she wanted to run as far as she could from her pain. No human being wants to feel pain and Amelia is no different. But my point with her story is that you can only run for so long before what is plaguing you must be faced. You can keep denying, but you'll have to face the consequences of that denial.

Re: Motherhood, I wasn't consciously focused on including that to be honest. It just sort of grew out of my core idea. My inclusion of the young child fit this very strong feeling I have that if we suppress darkness, we don't just hurt ourselves; we can also do enormous damage to those around us. And what worse damage can be done than by a mother to her child?