Review: “One Day” (2011)

“One Day” (2011)

A Film by Lone Scherfig

Ah, the month of love.  Chocolate candies, roses, and of course, love stories.  Last week, with Valentine’s Day around the corner, I thought it fitting to review a film that features a love story.  “One Day” is based on the best-selling book by David Nicholls.

Can a woman’s love make a man a better person?  This age old question envelops the film and follows Emma (Anne Hathaway) and Dexter (Jim Sturgess).  Their love story starts out on the day of their college graduation on July 15, 1988.   The film follows their relationship by checking in with them every year on the anniversary of their graduation.  They are not always together but manage to keep some type of connection throughout the years.

Emma is determined to become a writer but ends up working at a Mexican restaurant after her move to London.  She takes a few detours in her professional life and eventually finds her way back to writing.  Dex, on the other hand, is all about living it up and squeezing every last bit of fun out of life.  He starts a career in television production and quickly starts partying too hard and becomes a drug addict.  His life seems glamorous when compared with Emma’s steady progression, but Dexter’s party boy life puts him on the fast track to self-destruction.

They stay a constant in each other’s lives even after Dexter gets married and Emma starts dating Ian (Rafe Spall).  They keep getting brought back together, sometimes by chance and sometimes by choice.  I know some would say that Emma should just give up on Dex because he should take care of himself, but I can’t help but think that they bring out the best in each other.  Although, yes—there were times when Dex got a bit whiny and just needed to grow up and stop calling Emma every time he was in a jam.

While some love stories can be predictable and cliché, I appreciated that “One Day” wasn’t all unicorns and rainbows.  Some critics have said that Lone Scherfig’s films have light humor, though a pervasive sense of tragic prevails.  I believe this to be right on point with “One Day.”  She dives deeper into the characters and keeps the story flowing with twists and turns.  She brings the ordinary to life and makes you want to invest in the characters and their fates.  This might not be a typical love story, but it is definitely one worth watching.

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Lotus Wollschlager is the official Her Film movie reviewer.  Find her bio on the Her Film Reviews page.

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Maria P. Williams: First African American Woman Film Producer

Maria P. Williams is a name that few film buffs and even film historians would know, but she is the earliest known African American woman film producer.  She has one film to her name, The Flames of Wrath (1923). Currently, only one frame of the film is known to exist, and it is housed in the George P. Johnson Negro Film Collection, 1916-1977 in the Young Research Library at the University of California Los Angeles.

Maria P. Williams pictured at left                             with her husband, Jesse L. Williams

How would I know this?  Well, back in 2006 I took a U.S. film history course at Indiana University (South Bend) which helped to pique my interest in women filmmakers.  I ended up doing a presentation on Lois Weber (another fascinating and prolific filmmaker about whom much more is known), but through it all I was mostly interested in the names of women filmmakers which few people outside of academe might know.  Maria Priscilla Williams is one of those filmmakers.

She was based in Kansas City, Missouri, and worked with her husband, Jesse, in their film production company, the Western Film Producing Company and Booking Exchange.  Jesse was President and General Manager while Maria was Assistant Manager, Secretary and Treasurer.  I have spent several years researching Maria P. Williams.  I’ve utilized every electronic resource I can find; accessed (and purchased copies of) physical records through the Kansas City Public Library; communicated with film scholars such as Charles Musser at Yale, Jane Gaines who was at Duke at the time (and now at Columbia), Black women filmmaker expert Yvonne Welbon, and Charlene Regester at the University of North Carolina; bought a membership to Ancestry.com to access census forms and marriage and death records; even secured a reader’s card to the Bodleian Library of Oxford University (with some help from an Oxford contact).  I couldn’t find much, though.  Williams has haunted me for years, and she still remains a mystery.  Jane Gaines invited me to write a piece for the Women Film Pioneers Sourcebook back in 2006 (originally a physical book schedule to be published by the University of Illinois Press but now an exclusively online project at the Center for Digital Research and Scholarship at Columbia University).  The piece included four other Black women filmmakers from the silent and early sound era of American cinema, but Maria P. Williams stood out as someone I have always wanted to research more.

Dr. Yvonne Welbon dedicated her doctoral studies to researching and revealing African American women filmmakers from the earliest days of cinema up through the present day (this was back in the 1990’s).  She set up the Sisters In Cinema website as a resource and wrote not only her doctoral dissertation on this topic, but also made a documentary film called Sisters In Cinema in which she interviews a number of Black women filmmakers. (If you’re interested in reading her dissertation, you can find it through university interlibrary loan, and you can purchase her documentary through her website.)

I look forward to the day when I’m able to dedicate more time to furthering my research on Williams.  Until then, I remain a devoted admirer.  If you research silent era women filmmakers, or Black women filmmakers of the early cinema, (or are simply interested in this topic), please get in contact with me!

Come back next week to read my piece on Eslanda Cardozo Goode Robeson, activist, scholar, wife of Paul Robeson, and filmmaker in her own right.

Writing for women, seeking women filmmakers for collaboration

Persephone Vandegrift is a writer who is looking to collaborate with women directors, producers, etc., to make movies about women.  Read on to find out more about Persephone and her work.

Would you like to collaborate with her?  Check out her contact information below and take action, and follow her on twitter @PersephWrites and @AllThngsHidden.

 

Who are you?

Persephone Vandegrift.

What do you do?

I write stage-plays, film scripts, short stories and odes.  Not always in that order.

What compels you to write what you do?

The Arts has always been a beacon for me. They are the best way I know to express who I am and the journey I am on in this lifetime. Writing is my way of understanding that journey and the journeys of others around me – whether it’s their past, present or future. It is a innate need, like being thirsty and knowing water will quench it – writing satiates my curiosity for everything – people, objects, history, the unexplainable, psychological, the forgotten, and the infamous. Once I get a germ of an idea, I won’t rest until my head has figured how to explain it through writing.

Someone asked me recently what it was like to be inside my head while I was writing or developing an idea and the only way I could describe it was that it was like languishing on a warm tropical beach, but at the same time being dangled over the edge of the Grand Canyon by my heels.  Writing, for me, is also like being an archaeologist – what will I uncover if I dig – right – here.  I write to understand things I don’t know, and to put those things I do know to the test.

What types of stories do you pursue?

Usually they pursue me. Seriously, they find me, pin me down, smack me in the face, pull my hair, tie my shoes together, make me walk into poles, pick up the wrong book, smile at the wrong person, talk to the right person, make me leave in the middle of social functions, really this list would never end. The stories that come out are stories that need to be told when and how they want it. It could be one from thousands of years ago or it could be from this morning.

I have learned (the hard way, see list above for more info) to stop telling them when it’s ‘a good time’ for them to show themselves, and ceased dictating to them ‘how’ they are going to be written.

The stories that draw me in first are ones that have been lost, ignored or are uncomfortable to talk about. Mythology and history play key roles, but there are plenty of heroines and heroes being created every day whose stories go unheard.

But more to the point, as a woman, I write ‘for’ women.  That is and has always been my goal – to write more roles for women in the theatre and film industry. But above all, the story will dictate the gender of the characters.  I just like the majority of them to be women because I am one, and it makes it easier for me to understand my gender, and if I don’t, it gives me a great opportunity to try.

What are you working on now?

I just finished two feature scripts, the first, Death of a Mortal Woman, is a historical biopic about a Roman widow trying to secure a legacy for her family in the face of empirical machinations, political corruption, and eventually her own death. The second, The Curse of Mercy Wood, is a supernatural chiller with a little historical thrown in (because I can’t help it) about a young girl who, while visiting her grandparents, inadvertently becomes a participant in a centuries-old ghost story in order to solve the mystery behind it.

I would love a woman director for either. I have several short scripts and plays. I also like to write for specific people or if someone has a particular character in mind, to build a script around it. I just did that with a recent project and I loved the challenge of it. My other short script, All Things Hidden, won a Certificate of Excellence in 2011 and is set to shoot this spring in Seattle. All Things Hidden was inspired by my experience growing up around domestic violence and the ramifications that experience can have on one’s life.  It also explores the process of how we overcome those experiences, or ‘morph’ out of them, and what does it take to do that? What do we have to put ourselves through in order to transcend our past?

I am working on a children’s fairy series (books), developing a TV pilot, and outlining two feature scripts, a rom/com/dram & a fantasy, which means there’s a lot of post-it notes and pieces of paper to sort through…tomorrow.

What are you looking for?

I am looking for women directors, producers, etc. who are interested in scripts written by women, like myself.  I am always open to writing for people or with people, short scripts or features.  I honestly do spend my waking hours writing,  researching new writing outlets, and networking to try to find women directors/producers. Nowadays a woman in this industry has to pretty much do everything; direct, produce, shoot, market, act, write. It makes it a bit more difficult to get noticed when one really only wants to write. But, I know they are out there, and hopefully looking for me too. I’m not giving up.

 

Contact details:

Persephone Vandegrift

vandepk77 at hotmail.com

www.persephonevandegrift.webs.com