Shattering the glass ceiling (on Danish television)

 

“Borgen” is a Danish television series that is currently being broadcast on LinkTV in the United States (found on DirecTV channel 375 and Dish Network channel 9410). It had its east coast premiere on Saturday, October 29 and west coast premiere the following day.  The series is about a woman politician who through a series of scandals (of other politicans) as well as through her own tenacity and clarity of vision she displays at a huge debate a couple of days before the election, becomes Prime Minister of Denmark!  The character is “Birgitte Nyborg Christensen” and is played by Danish actress Sidse Babett Knudsen.  “Borgen” runs for 10 episodes in season one, four of which were directed by Annette K. Olesen and two by Louise Friedberg.

Its intrigue is certainly as high as the smash hit “West Wing” which ran on NBC in the States for several years, and gives you a good insight into the behind the scenes dealings within Danish politics. It’s also the first series I’ve heard of with a woman leader of the government since Geena Davis’ “Commander in Chief” series in which she played “President MacKenzie Allen.”  It ran on ABC during the 2005-2006 television season.  “Borgen” (“Castle” in Danish) also sold at MIPCOM in Cannes recently to South America (including Brazil, specifically), Europe, Asia and Australia, plus, the show is being turned into a board game!

Check out LinkTV (the best channel in existence, if you ask me, and I’m a six+ year faithful viewer!) to catch the next episodes of “Borgen” which will air on Saturdays at 9:30pm (Eastern) and Sundays at 9:30pm (Pacific), or you can watch online at www.linktv.com/borgen.  I tweeted about the show a few times last week in the run-up to its Saturday premiere since I’ve seen it advertised on LinkTV since September and couldn’t wait to watch.  The American media seems to not be paying much attention to the show — yet, and I hope this changes, but there are a handful of reviews out there if you’re the kind of person who wants to read about it before seeing it!

TV Review: Borgen – “Decency in the Middle” (Blogcritics Video)

Politics at Play in ‘Borgen’ (Community Voices blog of Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Borgen Premieres Saturday Night on LinkTV (Women and Hollywood)

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Women’s stories this week

“Peace Unveiled,” the third in the five-part Women, War and Peace series aired Tuesday on PBS in the U.S.  This film focused on the work of three particular Afghan women to reestablish their rights and participate in the peace process to have a voice and a place at the table.  The details about the realities of life as a woman in Afghanistan were sobering indeed, many absolutely shocking, and there was a lot that I think most women (at least in the U.S.) would have no idea had happened or was still happening:  women risking their lives to run for political office, death threats against women teachers, routine death threats against women’s children — women who refused to become slaves of the Taliban (“cut off your children’s heads and burn your daughter” types of threats).

The role of the U.S. government in the peace talks was fascinating to hear about, especially as the reality is not something that mainstream media in the U.S. shares with the populace.  The media is called the Fourth Estate for a reason, and is supposed to support democracy and the free flow of information, not suppress it.  Watch Democracy Now! on LinkTV hosted by Amy Goodman if you want to hear more accurate information and hear and see women who are involved in peace movements and political and direct action. Abigail Disney, the Executive Producer of the Women, War and Peace series, was interviewed by Amy Goodman on Tuesday.  Watch the interview here (9m 50s).

Many quotes from the film were shared through the #wwplive tag as we live tweeted during the broadcast.  Prolific tweets abounded, with some of the most active people being Women, War and Peace @womenwarpeace (with the director of the episode, Gini Reticker, leaving her comments labeled with “- GR, ” so we could tell it was her), The White House Project @TWHP, The Opinioness @OpinionessWorld, Katherine Mullen @MullenKat, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon @gaylelemmon, Peace Is Loud @peaceisloud (I LOVE this handle!), all of whom are very much worth following if you don’t already.

Next week will be “The War We Are Living,” the fourth film in the series.  If you are in the U.S., please check here for local listings to see what time the film airs your PBS affiliate.  Come live tweet with us, too, if you can!  Just tag your posts with #wwplive.

If you have missed the other episodes, you can watch the first two online, and each episode is made available for viewing online several days after the original air date.


The 24th Tokyo International Women’s Film Festival ran from October 23-26.  The official selections and directors are:

Angeles Gonzales-Sinde (One Word from You), Leena Manimekalai (Sengadal, The Dead Sea), Yim Soon-rye (Rolling Home with a Bull), Akane Yamada (All to the Sea), Michal Aviad (Invisible), Celine Sciamma (Tomboy), Yen Lan-Chuan (Hand In Hand), Yui Miyatake (Jazz Jii Men), Juana Macias (Plans for Tomorrow), Sumiko Haneda (Nuclear Power Generation Now and The Life of Hiratsuka Raicho)*, Kyoko Gasha (3.11 We Live Here), Carin Black (100!) 

*The film’s subject, Raicho Hiratsuka, was a pioneer Japanese feminist and the film’s director, Sumiko Haneda, is one of Japan’s leading women documentary filmmakers.


Women In Film and Television has launched a chapter in the United Arab Emirates (WIFT UAE), to focus on women in the Middle East and North Africa.  This is very exciting news and I will be following WIFT UAE’s developments!  They’ve partnered with Final Draft for a short script competition.  Read the article here: “Women in Film and Television, UAE joins global film community.”  The organization states, “We endeavor to become a vibrant, productive force in the UAE and to support, educate, mentor and inspire our members.”  Visit the website to read about the mission and much more.  (They launched in August of this year, but I just found out about it this week and couldn’t be happier to know it’s happened.  Where were you in August, google alerts?!)


The 2011 Film Independent Producers Lab Fellows were announced early Monday on indieWIRE and good news: five of the eleven fellows are women.  This is darn near gender parity we’re witnessing, people!  With nine projects in total, two of them had two-person producing teams and four of them had women as sole producers.  The list of women recipients and their projects are:

  • A Day with Dandekar (Megha Kadakia)
  • Lee (Angela C. Lee)
  • Pit (Rikki Jarrett)
  • Raw (Stacy Haskin w/Gil Kofman)
  • Three (Anna Kerrigan)

The Association of Black Women Historians has issued a critique of The Help, giving us an alternative and more historically correct view and understanding of the context of the story.  The newly released The Help is based on Kathryn Stockett’s book of the same name.  The ABWH states that: “Despite efforts to market the book and the film as a progressive story of triumph over racial injustice, The Help distorts, ignores, and trivializes the experiences of black domestic workers. We are specifically concerned about the representations of black life and the lack of attention given to sexual harassment and civil rights activism.”  The statement goes on to say: “Portraying the most dangerous racists in 1960s Mississippi as a group of attractive, well dressed, society women, while ignoring the reign of terror perpetuated by the Ku Klux Klan and the White Citizens Council, limits racial injustice to individual acts of meanness,” and ends with “The Association of Black Women Historians finds it unacceptable for either this book or this film to strip black women’s lives of historical accuracy for the sake of entertainment.” (Source: An Open Statement to Fans of The Help. ABWH.)

Read the ABWH’s Open Statement and the story in the Kansas City Star.

I say hear, hear.  While I wanted to see the film based on hearing about the book, I’m bothered by this concern over the historical inaccuracies and distortions present in both the book and film according to this statement.  We all know that Hollywood misrepresents history and the lives of racial and ethnic minority groups and women, and often disinforms us (not just misinforms us — see Black Hawk Down as an egregious example of this.)  Have any of you seen the film or read the book — or better, both?

I really appreciate the criticisms of the ABWH.  To add to the critique, I find the poster in itself embraces regressive thinking, i.e. the “Black women as conspirators and gossips”  stereotype, the young “White girl as the go-between” stereotype, and more, but I think I’ll leave that for another day.  I can’t be the only person who thinks this is a terrible poster (from a socially conscious point of view.)


Last week, Monika Bartyzel of Girls On Film wrote a too-true piece attacking the use of the insidiously disempowering “for women” phrase in movie marketing.  She states, “It’s not about catering to women. It’s about setting up a stereotypical dichotomy between the sexes and catering to the most reductive common denominators.”  Read Bartyzel’s article “The ‘For Women’ Fallacy.”

This started me wondering if there is a positive way to spin the “for women” phrase.  Can it be positive instead of negative, meaning that the issues dealt with, or themes presented, in a film relate to women and help to cast women in a non-objectified light?  Can “for women” only be understood as a reductive, essentialist phrase? What do you think?  I’d love to hear people’s thoughts on this, especially as if something’s “for women,” shouldn’t that mean it’s for everyone?  Doesn’t everyone need to see positive images of women and hear positive dialogue about and between women as well as between men and women?  Do you find yourself affected by “for women” marketing?  Do you use it or reject it when it comes to your own projects?  Check out the Bechdel Test if you haven’t yet heard of it.


Veteran director Brian DePalma is quoted in a story in the McClatchy News that about how he “has also been blasted for constantly placing women in danger. ‘I’ve been asked that question for many years and my stock answer is that when you make a thriller I think it’s more interesting to me to photograph women rather than men. But nobody ever accepted that. That’s one of those things like smoking — it went out (of fashion). You can’t do that anymore. Forget about it. Basically you cannot put women in jeopardy anymore. But I think it’s more interesting to put a woman in jeopardy or certainly a child.”

Uh, what?  I’m a bit disturbed by this because it seems as if  he feels it’s inherently more interesting to put a woman or child in danger.  I think that DePalma’s position is completely transparent, and that the vulnerability — or perceived vulnerability — of a woman or child character in a film somehow adds to the entertainment factor.  Is that what we want from movies, though, if we’re being honest with ourselves as (hopefully) discerning viewers?  Do we really want to see some of the most vulnerable members of our society being portrayed as potential victims, targets of danger or even “collateral damage” of violence?  I can’t imagine another argument wherein the vulnerability of a woman or child isn’t the main reason why DePalma — or anyone else — feels that the thrill is heightened.  Is there one?  What do you think?  Read the story “Best horror stories tap into universal dreams and fears, filmmakers say” in the Calgary Herald yesterday.


Christy Jones of the AAUW Dialog Blog cross-posted a great piece by Melissa Wardy of Pigtail Pals (“dedicated to changing the way we think about girls”) about the repugnant treatment of women by ChapStick which has chosen wrongly to use the backside of a woman to advertise lip balm.  What?  That’s right.  Read Wardy’s open letter to the company, “Dear ChapStick, We’re Through.”  This isn’t exclusive to ChapStick, as we all know, and is an issue that is discussed in Miss Representation, a documentary by Jennifer Siebel Newsom which premiered on OWN last week. Read my post on the film and the Miss Representation pledge.

BUBBLES: Guest post by director Leyla Pope

BIOGRAPHY

Raised in Tehran, Dubai and Saudi Arabia, Leyla Pope moved to London at the age of ten. She has lived in France, Switzerland and the US and is currently settled in Wales. Leyla holds a BA from Cambridge University in French/Persian literature, a Scriptwriting MA from the University of Glamorgan and a Film MA from the University of Wales.

Selected from 400 applicants, Leyla joined 16 screenwriters at “SOS”, run by The Bureau. Her first film “To Shine” was screened at the IFSW festival last year and she recently directed a 9min drama ‘Love Struck’ for broadcast on BBC in November.

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Bubbles is a film about a family on the brink of change. It is set the day after a funeral when a forgotten photograph unearths deep buried feelings, past loves become present and emotions refuse to be suppressed any longer. The central character is a woman in her forties whose journey is placed within the context of the three generations in her family. We shot a pilot for the feature film, which introduces the characters but also gives you a sense of the lyrical mood of the film. It’s a film about relationships and suppressed emotions, where silences speak far louder than any dialogue.

From the outset, I knew that the film was going to be a difficult one to sell in the UK because its protagonist is a middle class woman, over thirty, living in a large house. British cinema has had a long love affair with gritty working class dramas or gangster films, and there are hardly any films set in large country houses, which are not period dramas. I was warned by many in the industry from undertaking such a departure form the norm.  But I always replied that we would first shoot the pilot and determine our next steps on how the audience reacts. Thankfully having now begun screening the film, the feedback has been wonderful. We had a screening in Soho last month to press and industry, and the very elements that make Bubbles different, having a complex central character and interweaving storylines between the family members, is what draws people to it. I think the comment from the screening that I value most, was a journalist coming up to me and saying, “at last I see a real woman on screen – I wish I could see that more often”.

I wrote the pilot for Bubbles on a writers’ retreat in North Wales over two years ago. We were a handful of writers staying in a house overlooking the sea, and our only aim was to produce a piece of writing by the end of the retreat.

Having a young toddler at the time, the retreat was a complete luxury for me. I could allow thoughts to unravel without any interruption, I did not need to feed a baby or juggle work and home. I walked around the grounds and just observed life around me, noticing a magnolia flower gently beginning to rot, a discarded bicycle in a field. I was almost giddy with lightness, realising that over the past few months I had barely stopped for a second to live “in the moment”. The previous year had been a particularly difficult one for me as my parents had recently split up after thirty seven years together.

I reflected on how stressed I had become, how I was becoming an obsessive tidier just like my mother and grandmother were. I had always despaired at their attempt to control everything around them by giving it a sense of order and had sworn I would never behave like that. And as I began to realise how the stress of the past year had changed me, I began to think how different my mother must have been before she had  four children. I wondered who she had been then, what had her dreams been? I started to think about writing a character who has been so overwhelmed by her everyday life that she has lost herself. But I then wanted there to be a moment that brought her back to who she had once been, before being a wife and mother.

Out of these musings came the storyline of a woman in her forties who returns to the village she grew up in, to arrange her own mother’s funeral. Exhausted and preoccupied with needing to find her father a care home and clearing her mother’s belongings, she is completely emotionally detached form her grief. In the midst of this, a carpenter arrives at the door about an engraving for a bench but the sight of the carpenter is profoundly upsetting as he is her childhood love who she has not seen in over twenty years. This moment brings our protagonist sharply back to herself, she becomes acutely aware of her feelings again.

As I toyed with these story threads, questions about love and duty were at the forefront of my mind. I was thinking particularly about my parents’ marriage, which had finally broken down after my father had fallen in love with someone else.  I found myself very torn by what had happened and was unsure what to think. Should my father have suppressed his desire and stayed in his marriage for my mother’s sake? But my father was clearly happier now with his new wife than he had been with my mother. Which is more important, our emotional integrity or our moral one? But if you sacrifice your emotional integrity, what are you left with? And yet here was my mother left alone after thirty seven years of marriage…

Determined to explore these ambiguities, I thought it would be far more insightful to set these across several generations in a family. I am fascinated by how we are influenced by our families and how there can be subconscious patterns in our behaviour. With this in mind I thought about having a grandfather figure that had been in love with two women. He had married one but held feelings for the other throughout his life. I wondered how he would feel the day after his wife’s funeral when by chance he discovers a photo of both women from his teens. Did he feel guilt or desire?

I also wanted to explore the very sensitive subject of sexual awakening. There is a teenage daughter in the film who catches her stepbrother looking up her skirt. It is the first time that she realises she is seen in a sexual light. She feels both revulsion and anger, but also has a moment where she tentatively explores her newfound awareness.

To bring these storylines together I needed to have a focal point, which is why I centered everything around a large family house. I felt that a house of this size defines a family’s identity and influences their decisions. By raising the issue of selling the house it also raises questions about the family and their future. It was important for me that the house had a sense of stasis and claustrophobia about it which would then contrast with the movement and escape that characterises the end of the film.

I read the first draft of the pilot to the other writers on the retreat and even in its rough form I could sense that I had written a story that people were moved by. I was urged to not let it fester in a drawer but to pursue getting it made but I was aware that I had written it from a deeply personal space and was wary of directing anything that I was so close to. I showed the script to two directors who I thought could direct it. They both loved the film but urged me to direct it myself as I had such a clear vision for it. I was terrified by the prospect, I knew what I wanted to achieve but was not sure if, as a director, I could get there. It is a film that is so subtle and requires such understatement, I did not want to put a foot wrong.

I had a few boosts to my confidence though, the script gained me entry to a prestigious EU funded writers lab, Save Our Scripts, then a script editor also worked closely with me on the script. Through a Meisner directing actors course, run by Stephen Bayly, I met a wonderful producer Geoffrey Morgan who offered to come on board. Having really explored my characters and seen how positively people were responding to the story, I finally decided that I would direct the pilot.

We accessed a small grant in Wales for the four-day shoot but soon realised that we would need to work on a shoestring budget. The challenge, as ever, would be not to compromise the production values of the film so I needed the cast, locations and cinematography to be superb and yet we had to secure this for pennies. I wanted to work with an award winning Welsh cinematographer Huw Walters. He has trained as a photographer, has a wonderful eye and is in great demand. Huw read the script and came on board even despite the lack of budget. We really wanted to shoot the film on 16mm as Bubbles is so much about visual storytelling and Huw has his own 16mm kit. Luckily Kodak was very supportive and as my last film shot on 16mm had done well, they offered us an incredible 70% discount on stock. A major lighting company again waived almost all charges because they wanted to support the film. We managed to secure our dream location, a beautiful manor house, which had never been used as a film set and slowly pieces fell into place.

 

Casting the film was a journey in itself. The idea was to make the film as Welsh as possible so we could access Welsh Film funds for the feature. We aimed very high and were again amazed at how the pilot script opened doors for us. Howell Evans, who plays the grandfather, is an immensely experienced and in demand actor, but he cleared his diary for the shoot. I really struggled to find the right person to play the protagonist Lily and her son, so for these roles we ran auditions in London. I had an immediate connection with Vanessa Bailey who plays Lily, the mother, as we improvised around the character together in the audition. I had instinctively selected Laurence Patrick, a responsive, experienced actor, but due to time constraints we didn’t get a chance to do a read-through with Vanessa. Reassuringly, they both had a real spark and the chemistry on-screen was exactly what I was looking for.

One of the most difficult people to cast was the young teenage girl. I did the round of drama schools and casting workshops in Wales but I could not see any girls that had the integrity I was looking for. I finally approached a friend of mine’s daughter who I had in fact had in mind when I wrote the part. She had never acted before and was very shy. I knew the film was going to take her completely out of her comfort zone but amazingly she agreed to it. We spent a good month rehearsing the character and the back-story so that when it came to the shoot she would have lots to draw from.

A key element of pre-production, which was unusual, was working with the composer Jack Westmore. I had collaborated with Jack on my previous film and was immediately struck by his talent. As one of the central characters in Bubbles is a composer and cellist, we needed to write the music he was going to play before the shoot. I also wanted this music to tie into the film’s score and reflect the mood shift from a sense of suppression to one of release, so all this needed to be worked through in pre-production. We also managed to secure one of the UK’s most talented cellists, Rosie Biss, lead cello in the Welsh National Opera, which really helped to bring Jack’s music alive.

The shoot itself in Llandinam, Mid Wales, was incredibly intense but enjoyable. All the cast and crew ate their meals in the beautiful dining hall in the manor we filmed in. The very first day of filming was fraught because we were shooting on a train, something that had taken literally two months to organise as it is very difficult to obtain permission for that in the UK. As we were half way through filming the scene, the driver announced that the train was going to have to stop and we would all need to change to a different train all together. I thought that there was no way we could recreate the same interior and get the same seats in the new train and we were still mid scene. Luckily the next train was identical and we managed to get exactly the same seats!

The post-production journey was a complex one but I was eternally grateful to have the guidance of our executive producer, John Richards who comes from an accomplished background as an international film editor. With films to his name such as “Band of Brothers,” Girls’ Night and Little Black Book, John was able to open doors for us and help supervise the post-production work flow. An up and coming editor, Sara Parry Jones, did the off-line edit and brought a very light touch to the piece, adding much further meaning by her choice of edits. She was working on a BBC drama during the daytime and we were often editing late at night to get the film done. The sound mix was long and we ended up doing it twice but at last the film was ready to go out to the world. I was exhausted by this stage but also terrified of how people would react to a film that came from such a personal space for me.

I took it to show a producer in London who was impressed and agreed to help screen it in one of the top preview cinemas in London, the Soho Screening Rooms. Very soon a PR and marketing team came on board and we are now in the process of promoting Bubbles to potential audiences, film festivals, executive producers, brands, press and investors to help take the film to the next level and begin production of the feature. We have been very fortunate so far to have interest from some well-known brands and industry connections, who are offering support, mentoring and advice. I never thought that we could attract so many industry professionals nor that they would be so genuinely moved by the film. I was taken aback by how many people urged me to keep going with the plans for making a feature length film. I have of course doubted myself many times over but feedback has been very encouraging and shown me that the story I care so much about has also moved its viewers and that is the greatest incentive to move forward with the feature.

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To connect with the filmmaker or to learn more about Bubbles, please check out the following:

Website: www.shortfilmbubbles.com

Facebook:www.facebook.com/pages/Bubbles-Short-Film/173451646048497

Twitter: @bubblesfilm


Tumblr: http://bubblesshortfilm.tumblr.com/

What to see

– NEW YORK –

(This is an add-on to this list, passed on to me by Marian Evans of Wellywoodwoman and @devt.)

MAITE RUIZ DE AUSTRI: ANIMATION RETROSPECTIVE

Spain’s only woman director “who usually leads animated feature films…

Where: Kid Cinema Fest, 511 W. 182nd Street, New York

When:  Until October 30, and Ruiz’s films to screen include:

  • Animal Channel / Oct. 27 – 5:00PM
  • El Tesoro del Rey Midas (The Treasure of King Midas) / Oct. 27 – 11:00AM & Oct. 28 – 1:00PM
  • El Regreso del Viento del Norte (The Return of the North Wind) / Oct. 27 – 3:00PM & Oct. 28 – 11:00AM)
  • La Leyenda del Unicornio (The Legend of the Unicorn) / Oct. 30 – 1:00PM

See the Kid Cinema Fest website for more information.


– CHICAGO –

Chicago premiere of Wendy Jo Carlton’s JAMIE AND JESSIE ARE NOT TOGETHER

Plays through November 3

Director Wendy Jo Carlton follows her 2009 runaway hit HANNAH FREE with a complete change of pace: a sexy romp of a queer musical about loving the wrong girl at the wrong time. Oblivious to the clues that her roommate Jessie is in love with her, Jamie is moving to New York to try her luck on Broadway, leading Jessie to pine, pout, and act out with a hilarious clutch of mismatched dates, including Jamie’s own girlfriend. Steamy love scenes, sweet romance, and cool music by Tegan and Sara, God-des and She, and more, add up to a smart new look at the adventure of scoring a soul mate.

Read Wendy Jo Carlton’s interview with Her Film, “A Film of Her Own,” from this February.

For screening times and to buy tickets, please click here.


– NEW YORK CITY –

The Film Society of Lincoln Center will premiere the newly restored prints of three landmark 16 mm films from 1970 – Make Out, Growing Up Female, and Janie’s Janie – each preserved with a grant from The Women’s Film Preservation Fund, a project of New York Women in Film & Television. These films, emerging at the onset of feminism’s second wave, were a strong part of that movement’s politically driven cinema.

Women’s Film Preservation Fund Screening: Feminist Films of the 70’s

Date/Time: Monday, Oct. 24, 2011 6:30 PM

Pricing: $12 nonmembers / $10 for NYWIFT members / $9 students / $8 seniors

RSVP online

Location: Walter Reade Theater, 165 West 65th Street, Mezzanine level http://www.filmlinc.com

REGISTER online.

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Museum of Modern Art

Gabriel

1976. USA. Agnes Martin. 78 min.

Friday, October 28, 2011, 7:00 p.m.

Theater 2 (The Roy and Niuta Titus Theater 2), T2

Directed by Agnes Martin. The Museum of Modern Art, in cooperation with The Pace Gallery, has undertaken a preservation of Agnes Martin’s only completed film, Gabriel, a historically unique work that both illuminates and complicates our understanding of the artist and her paintings. “My movie is about happiness, innocence, and beauty,” Martin observed, “It’s about this little boy who climbs a mountain and all the beautiful things he sees.”

For more information, please click here.

Women’s Film Preservation Fund, Program 2

Wednesday, November 2, 2011, 7:00 p.m.

Theater 2 (The Roy and Niuta Titus Theater 2), T2

All Women Are Equal (1974. USA. Directed by Marguerite Paris.)

Henrietta Szold (1946. USA. Directed by Hazel Greenwald. Screenplay by Mildred Barish Vermont.)

Dodge House 1916 (1965. USA. Directed by Esther McCoy.)

For more information, please click here.


  – DOHA, QATAR –

SHE is film

Panel, DURATION: 90min — Doha Talks

Schedule:  Thursday, October 27, 4:00 PM, KOH-1

Buy tickets

In 2010, Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman in Academy Award ® history to win the award for Best Director for the Iraq war film, “The Hurt Locker”.

Did this win reflect a new era for women in film globally? Are there signs the male dominated culture of the film business is changing? Leading women in world cinema debate on why there are so few women at the top and how a new generation of female filmmakers is taking on the boys club. Join the discussion with acclaimed Lebanese director and actress Nadine Labaki (“Caramel”, “Where Do We Go Now”), producer Dora Bouchoucha (“Red Satin”), Turkish-German director Yasmin Samdereli of “Almanya” and Golden Bear Winner, director of “Grbavica” and “On the Path”, and DTFF 2011 juror, Jasmila Zbanic.


– LOS ANGELES –

Sneak Preview! PERFECTION – Cast & Crew In Person

Time:  Wednesday, November 2  (7:30pm – 10:00pm)

Location: Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles CA

About the film:

PERFECTION, 2011, 85 min. Christina Beck’s debut feature follows Kristabelle (played by Beck), a 30-something woman struggling with a cutting addiction and living in quietly miserable submission with her overbearing mother in the heart of the San Fernando Valley. Meanwhile, her mother Sally (Robyn Peterson), a once-aspiring actress tormented by the fame she never had, is addicted to a different kind of cutting – plastic surgery. Following a particularly distressing hook-up, Kristabelle goes on a self-mutilating rampage so bad that she winds up in a rehabilitation clinic for 30 days. There, with the help of a pot-smoking potential love interest, a newly sober British stand-up comic and the mysteries of Chinese medicine, Kristabelle struggles to find the self-acceptance she once had but lost. Discussion following with actress- director Christina Beck and cast and crew. Buy Tickets: http://www.fandango.com/egyptiantheatre_aaofx/theaterpage RSVP through Facebook here.

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Women In Film Independent Film Series

Special Feature TBA

Wednesday, November 16

This event is FREE to members and non-members!

Mount St. Mary’s College, 12001 Chalon Road, Los Angeles CA 90049

Check in: 6:30pm Screening: 7:00pm sharp

RSVP: Candace Bowen, Chair 310-457-8664 / candace@malibuonline.com

Directions and Parking: CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO

The WIF Independent Film Series is held every third Wednesday of the month at the above location.


– LONDON, ENGLAND –

SAMBIZANGA

Sambizanga
Categories: Fiction
Rating: 15

Screening: Sat, 12 November 2011, 3:00pm

Venue: The Ritzy

(Gold Palm, Carthage Film Festival 1972)

The liberation war in Angola is underway. Domingo, an activist in the liberation movement, is seized and arrested by the Portuguese authorities. His courageous wife Maria journeys to find him, engaging in her own, brave resistance. This is a powerful story of the moments of the revolution, of the deaths that serve to unify a movement, and of the true meaning of political struggle that touches all spheres of life. The first feature film to be made in Africa by a woman, Sambizanga has lost none of the power with which it captured global audiences forty years ago.

Dir. Sarah Maldoror, starring Domingos de Oliveira, Elisa Andrade, Jean M’Vondo
Angola, 1972, 103 mins
Print Source: filmmaker

+ Q&A with director Sarah Maldoror

£7.50 / £6.50 conc / £5.50 memb / £5.50 child

For more information, please click here.


– BERKELEY, CALIFORNIA –

3rd Annual Women’s Film Institute Shorts Tour:

Films directed by Women that Entertain, Inspire and Motivate

Gender Equity Resource Center
Date: November 18, 2011
Time: 6:30 – 9:00 PM

Admission: FREE
Location: 2040 Valley Life Sciences Building, Berkeley

Additonal dates and locations to be announced.

For more information, please click here.

DVD Releases

Below is a list of recent DVD releases and releases coming up in the U.S. of films directed by women or about women, and also starring women. Updates on other releases will be posted when they’re discovered.

August:  THE BEAVER (directed by Jodie Foster, starring Cherry Jones & Jodie Foster)

September:  HANNA (directed by Joe Wright, starring Saoirse Ronan & Cate Blanchett); THE ARBOR (directed by Clio Barnard, starring Manjinder Virk, Christine Bottomley & Natalie Gavin);  MEEK’S CUTOFF (directed by Kelly Reichardt, starring Michelle Williams); JIG (produced & directed by Sue Bourne); ED HARDY: TATTOO THE WORLD (directed by Emiko Omori); GO FOR IT! (written & directed by Carmen Marron, starring Aimee Rodriguez & Jossara Jinaro)

October:  BUCK (directed by Cindy Meehl)

November 1: SNOW FLOWER AND THE SECRET FAN (directed by Wayne Wang, co-written by Angela Workman, based on novel by Lisa See); TABLOID (directed by Errol Morris) – read the New York Times article about Joyce McKinney, the subject of the film; AN INVISIBLE SIGN (directed by Marilyn Agrelo, co-written by Pamela Falk, starring Jessica Alba & Bailee Madison, based on a novel by Aimee Bender)

November 8: ATLAS SHRUGGED, part I (directed by Paul Johansson, starring Taylor Schilling, based on the novel by Ayn Rand)

November 22: SARAH’S KEY (directed by Gilles Paquet-Brenner, starring Kristin Scott Thomas & Melusine Mayance, based on the novel by Tatiana De Rosnay) 

November 29: ONE DAY (directed by Lone Scherfig, starring Anne Hathaway); ANOTHER EARTH (directed by Mike Cahill, co-written by and starring Brit Marling)

December 6: THE HELP (directed by Tate Taylor, based on the novel by Kathryn Stockett, starring Emma Stone, Viola Davis & Octavia Spencer); THE DEBT (directed by John Madden, co-written by Jane Goldman, starring Helen Mirren); LIFE, ABOVE ALL (directed by Oliver Schmitz, starring Khomotso Manyaka, Keaobaka Makanyane & Lerato Mvelase) 

December 13:  KUNG FU PANDA 2 (directed by Jennifer Yuh); CIRCUMSTANCE (written & directed by Maryam Keshavarz, starring Sarah Kazemy, Nikohl Boosheri & Reza Sixo Safai) 

January 3:  I DON’T KNOW HOW SHE DOES IT (directed by Douglas McGrath, written by Aline Brosh McKenna, starring Sarah Jessica Parker, based on novel by Allison Pearson)

January 31: JANIE JONES (directed by David M. Rosenthal, starring Abigail Breslin and Elisabeth Shue)

Take the Miss Representation Pledge

As evidenced on twitter, discussion (#missrep) about Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s new film MISS REPRESENTATION is trending.  The film premiered last night on OWN (Oprah Winfrey’s new television network).

HAVE YOU TAKEN THE PLEDGE? 

“I pledge to use my voice to spread the message of Miss Representation and challenge the media’s limiting portrayal of women and girls”

Please take the pledge and embrace this mission to counterract the extraordinary imbalance in gender representation in the media, politics and other arenas.  Whether you’re a man or a woman, a girl or a boy, we all have the power to make a positive change, even if it means just turning off the television when something offensive is being aired.  The discussion following the film, hosted by Rosie O’Donnell, showed that there is also a need for discourse around issues of race and gender — an interested audience member brought this up — and also a need to recognize the positive and cultural-shifting work being done by groups trying to change the way the media portrays gender — brought up by another interested audience member.  It’s not only girls and women, but boys and men who also experience the unrealistic and violent expectations placed upon them — Cory Booker (mayor of Newark, New Jersey) talked in the film about how a woman called his attention to this issue.

Inspiring, horrifying, encouraging all at the same time, I appreciate and value the exposure this serious issue of misrepresentation and underrepresentation of girls and women in the media and positions of influence and power is receiving.  Oprah says on one of her network’s ads that she wants to “do for documentaries what the book club has done for books.”  She’s well on her way to doing that, showing women’s lives and facilitating discussion, and we need that now more than ever!

 

When you pledge, you are sent these suggestions, which you can start putting into action now even without taking the pledge — but please, do TAKE THE PLEDGE.  Participating makes a huge difference.  There is power in numbers.  Let’s stand up and represent!

 
1. Tell 5 people about the film and share one thing you learned from watching it.

2. Parents- watch TV and films with your children.  Raise questions like “What if that character had been a girl instead?”

3. Remember your actions influence others. Mothers, aunts and loved ones- don’t downgrade or judge yourself by your looks. Fathers, uncles and loved ones—treat women around you with respect.  Remember children in your life are watching and learning from you.

4. Use your consumer power. Stop buying tabloid magazines and watching shows that degrade women. Go see movies that are written and directed by women (especially on opening weekend to boost the box office ratings). Avoid products that resort to sexism in their advertising.

5. Mentor others! It’s as easy as taking a young woman to lunch. Start by having open and honest conversations with a young person in your life.

Watch filmmaker Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s TED talk at TEDx Event earlier this year.

 

(The importance of being active participants in the media was also briefly brought up in the discussion following the film last night.  Inspired by Occupy Wall Street, I want to start a movement of women & girls to OCCUPY THE MEDIA.)

Guest Post: Mary Ratliff on her film “Good Game”

BIOGRAPHY

Mary Ratliff has won awards for both filmmaking and screenwriting. She has also worked on several features, a webseries, and numerous short films as a member of the art department and a script supervisor.

As a screenwriter, Mary was a finalist in last year’s DC Shorts Screenwriting Competition and the recipient of the Will Interactive Dramatic Short Screenplay award for her script, “Catching Up.”  The film also received the Panavision New Filmmaker Grant.  The completed short won the Visions Award for Outstanding Thesis Project in 2011.

Ratliff recently earned a Masters of Fine Arts at American University in Washington D.C.

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I’ve always been interested in fighting stereotypes.  As a female filmmaker, I face them almost every day.  There are assumptions about the kinds of things I would write, what genres of films I’m best suited to direct, and just general thoughts about what I’m capable of.

I also happen to be a very big nerd.  I’ve been a fan of science-fiction and fantasy since I was first able to read and understand stories.  I attended anime conventions for years.  I also love playing video games.  We had an Atari when I was growing up, and we got our first computer when I was four.  I’ve been playing video games ever since.

As a girl gamer, I’m told frequently what I must think, what I must like, and I’m even told on occasion that I don’t exist.  Recently a well-meaning comment on reddit lamented that “girls don’t like real time strategy games.”  The only reason I saw the comment was because I was there to read about one of my favorite real time strategy games, Starcraft 2.

I love Starcraft 2 so much that it is the focus of my latest film, Good Game (http://www.goodgamemovie.com).  I’ve devoted the last year of my life to following a team of professional gamers that compete around the world.  This project has been responsible for the biggest ups and downs I’ve experienced in years.  After months of pre-production we started filming earlier this year.  Since then I have been following a specific team called Evil Geniuses as they compete throughout the year.

Greg "IdrA" Fields (Photo courtesy of the filmmaker)

What attracted me to the project in the first place was the chance to challenge the idea everyone had of gamers.  I wanted to take the stereotype of gamers and turn it on its head.  Everyone believes they are lazy, that they can’t get dates, they don’t have jobs, don’t leave their parent’s basements, and that they’re all men.

None of these things are true.  Each of the members of Evil Geniuses was drawn to e-sports because of their own competitive drive.  Most of them participated in sports when they were younger.  Several of them work out regularly.  Geoff “iNcontroL” Robinson, the captain of the team, was also captain of his football team.

I’ve also been lucky enough to meet Anna Prosser, who is dating Robinson and works with Evil Geniuses.  She is also the reigning Miss Oregon USA.  When I started a film about gaming, I never expected to find myself at the Miss USA pageant in Las Vegas, but there I was last June.  I’ve loved watching as Anna’s role in the esports community has grown.

Geoff "iNcontroL" Robinson (Photo courtesy of the filmmaker)

She creates video content for the team, interviews players at tournaments, and does her best to promote competitive gaming at every opportunity.  As a woman director, it’s been nice for me to have this opportunity to find the women of gaming and showcase them in my work.

For these players, Starcraft is their job.  The top players earn a salary along with taking home their tournament winnings.  The IGN Pro League recently gave their winner $30,000.  The upcoming season of the North American Star League will give out $140,000 amongst the top competitors.  If you rise to the top, you will start finding sponsors.  The members of Evil Geniuses appear in commercials and print advertisement for the brands that sponsor the team.

But even other gamers will insult their work.  Posts on major gaming websites are full of comments by gamers who say that these pros need to “get a real job” and that it’s insulting that they make a living at this.

That was part of drew me into the world of professional gaming.  I see many parallels between what they have chosen to do with their lives and the career I’m striving so hard at.  Frequently in my life I’ve had to deal with people who think that my life on film sets sounds fun and glamorous.

Film work is exotic to most people, so they don’t think of it as work.  They think it’s all the things we’ve seen in the “making of” featurettes on DVDs.  They’ve also heard a lot about how we all “hurry up and wait,” and assume we spend plenty of time sitting around chatting up our fellow crew members.

The crowd at a Major League Gaming event in Anaheim, California (Photo courtesy of the filmmaker)

I’ve tried to explain to people that a standard day on set is twelve hours long.  While shooting in Orlando last weekend, my crew and I were on site and filming for sixteen hours at a stretch, running on very little food and even less sleep.  Because of the timing, I was also on my third shoot and my eleventh straight day on set.  By the time I caught a flight back on Monday, I hadn’t had a full eight hours of sleep in weeks.  As a director and a script supervisor, I’m not physically running around but the work is still difficult in ways that most people can’t understand.

These professional gamers face the same situations.  One of them commented to me that people ask him how he could be tired from playing a game.  What these people don’t understand is that they practice their game for ten to twelve hours a day.  At a tournament, they play almost constantly for three days straight.  At Major League Gaming tournaments, they frequently don’t finish the first day until 1a.m. or later, and the matches start again at 10 a.m. the next day.

Anna Prosser interviews Chris "HuK" Loranger (Photo courtesy of the filmmaker)

This practice isn’t like sitting in front of your Xbox and playing games with your friends.  They are strategizing different ways to challenge their opponent, calculating the math involved to be successful at the game.  When they aren’t playing, they are sitting together and talking about the game.  In order to be at the top, they must live and breathe what they do.  While all of the players I am following are contracted and have sponsors, many are struggling to be able to play enough to stay competitive and make enough money to afford the travel and tournament fees.

That to me sounds exactly like filmmaking.  I quit my full time job two years ago so that I could concentrate on filmmaking.  My first job was completely unpaid. I spent an entire month as an intern and set costumer on a feature film.  From there I slowly made connections and getting the experience I needed.  In the current economic climate, there are a lot of people telling me that I should go out and get a “real job” instead of pursuing this crazy dream.  They sometimes will say that it’s irresponsible for me to be doing this right now.

It’s not an easy time to be pursuing a dream, and I know that better than most of them.  Months after I quit my full time job, my husband’s company folded and he was unemployed.  We suddenly were a household without any income, and I was also a full time grad student.  That was a do or die moment for us.  I had to sit back and decide if I was going to give up or even step back and put my dream on hold.  I could either keep trying to get jobs on sets for income and finish school or I could take a job in an office and wait for a better time.

But I had faced that choice before, when I first graduated from film school.  I worked as a journalist for a while but when that job ended, I decided to take a step back and I started making decisions based on being safe and on making money.  For several years I felt unhappy and unfulfilled.  The money was there but it wasn’t a lot, and I was miserable.

Cong "StrifeCro" Shu (Photo courtesy of the filmmaker)

After my first year of grad school, I was driving home one day and I realized that if I looked at the decisions I had regretted over recent years, it was because I chose safety over my dreams.  I chose to be careful, instead of confident.  Each time I made that decision, it put me further from my path.

Quitting my job was anything but safe.  I see my bank account balance; I know how many days I’m on a job and how many days I’m spending on my documentary.  I also am completely aware of how much of my money I’ve been putting into this documentary (hint: it’s everything I’ve made this year).  We’ve got a Kickstarter campaign to earn some funding for the film, and we reached our goal in the first week.  But I also know that the goal for that campaign won’t cover the rest of our production costs, and I know how much I need for post.  It’s a struggle.

But every time I wonder what I’m doing, I look at the footage I’ve been bringing back from these gaming competitions.  I see these interviews where the players say that they came to this point in their careers because of their own hard work and sacrifice.  I see my story coming together, and I see how amazing everything looks.  I know that this film will be fantastic. I know that it will be compelling.  The struggles that I have gone through to make it, both financial and personal, feel worth it every time I look at the story developing.

I came into the film wanting to challenge stereotypes, to push against people’s perceptions, and to delve into a little known world where these men are taking a chance to pursue a dream that reminds me of my own.  I’ve seen all of those goals be met time and time again, and I can’t wait to share that with the world.

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Learn more about Good Game and Mary Ratliff’s other work by visiting her website at:

www.ninehourfilms.com