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Hot Docs 2018 Women Directors: Meet Yasemin Samdereli— “Night of All Nights”

“Night of All Nights”

While at the University of Television of Film in Munich, Yasemin Samdereli worked as Assistant Director on two of Jackie Chan’s features. She has also directed “Kismet” and “Almanya: Welcome to Germany,” which premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2011 and went on to receive numerous prizes including German Film Awards for Best Script and Best Film.

“Night of All Nights” will premiere at the 2018 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Film Festival on April 28.

W&H: Describe the film for us in your own words.

Ys: Our film is about four couples from different corners of the world who are celebrating more than 50 years together. It’s about not knowing much, or anything, really, about each other on an intimate level before jumping into marriage.

It’s about how that intimacy takes shape over time and how it’s kept alive. It’s about
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Gate Cinema co-founder Barbara Stone dies aged 83

Stone worked as a producer, director, distributor and exhibitor in London and the Us.

Producer, director, distributor and exhibitor Barbara Stone, who worked in London and the Us, has died aged 83.

Stone was perhaps best known for founding the Gate Cinemas and Cinegate Film Distribution with her husband David Stone, who died in 2011.

The Gate Cinemas was one of the UK’s best-known independent cinema chains in the 1970s and 1980s. It started with the acquisition of the former Classic cinema at Notting Hill Gate in 1974, which was renamed the Gate, followed by the Gate 2 in Brunswick Square in 1978 and
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Charlotte Bruus Christensen Named Inaugural Recipient of Sue Gibson Bsc, Cinematography Award

Charlotte Bruus Christensen: The Hollywood Reporter/YouTube

The National Film and Television School (Nfts) has announced that the inaugural winner of The Sue Gibson Bsc, Cinematography Award. According to Women in Film and Television UK, Charlotte Bruus Christensen, whose credits include “Fences” and “The Girl on the Train,” has been chosen to receive the honor. The prize celebrates an Nfts Cinematography alum “who has advanced the profession of Cinematography in a significant way.” Christensen will accept her award at a special event and deliver a master class to current Nfts students as well as alumni and staff.

“Over 100 Nfts Cinematography alumni submitted votes for the five nominees who, in addition to Charlotte, included Natasha Braier, Ula Pontikos, Tom Townen, and Vanessa Whyte,” Wftv writes.

Christensen commented, “I am absolutely delighted and honored to have won The Sue Gibson Award, and I want to thank everyone who voted for me. The Nfts has always been — and will continue to be — a very special place for me so to win this award named in memory of Sue Gibson is something that means a great deal, maybe even more so because I had the privilege to be taught by Sue during my time at Nfts. I truly look forward to collecting it later in the year and thanking everyone personally.”

Throughout her 30-plus year career, Gibson worked on projects like “The Forsythe Saga,” Marleen Gorris’ “Mrs. Dalloway,” and Nancy Meyers’ “The Holiday.” She served as the first female president of the British Society of Cinematographers (Bsc) and was herself an alumna of Nfts Cinematography. In 2010 she received the The Cinematographer Award from the Women’s International Film & Television Showcase. She died in 2016.

Women represented just five percent of cinematographers working on the top grossing 250 films of 2016. Recently launched groups supporting and promoting female cinematographers include illuminatrix and Cinematographers Xx.

Charlotte Bruus Christensen Named Inaugural Recipient of Sue Gibson Bsc, Cinematography Award was originally published in Women and Hollywood on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
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New Award Launched in Honor of Veteran Cinematographer Sue Gibson

Sue Gibson: Nfts

A new award has been organized in honor of veteran cinematographer Sue Gibson. The National Film and Television School (Nfts) has introduced the Sue Gibson Bsc Cinematography Award, a prize celebrating an Nfts Cinematography alum “who has advanced the profession of Cinematography in a significant way.” Nfts has also announced the award’s inaugural nominees, selected by its Cinematography Alumni members.

The female nominees for the Sue Gibson Award are Natasha Braier for “Neon Demon,” Charlotte Bruus Christensen for “Fences” and “Girl on the Train,” Ula Pontikos for “Marcella,” and Vanessa Whyte for her work at illuminatrix, the UK’s first all-female collective of cinematographers which she co-founded.

The winner of the Sue Gibson Award will be announced in September and receive the prize at an event later in 2017. The award ceremony will also see the recipient present a masterclass in cinematography.

“We are delighted that the Nfts has chosen to honor Sue’s memory in this way,” stated Gibson’s partner, Mike Roberts. “She was passionate about passing her skills on to a younger generation of cinematographers and this is truly a fitting tribute.”

Throughout her 30-plus year career, Gibson worked on projects like “The Forsythe Saga,” Marleen Gorris’ “Mrs. Dalloway,” and Nancy Meyers’ “The Holiday.” She most recently shot four episodes of mystery drama “Death in Paradise.” Gibson served as the first female president of the British Society of Cinematographers (Bsc) and was herself an alumna of Nfts Cinematography. In 2010 she received the The Cinematographer Award from the Women’s International Film & Television Showcase.

Gibson passed away in July 2016.

New Award Launched in Honor of Veteran Cinematographer Sue Gibson was originally published in Women and Hollywood on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
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Pelle the Conqueror

Bille August’s 1987 award winner is yet another full cinema meal, a deeply satisfying drama about working conditions among Scandinavian immigrants back when being poor was a life sentence. Max von Sydow’s performance is stunning, as an aging stock tender forced to begin again as a veritable serf. He and his good son Pelle are surrounded by little dramas dealing with injustices among the workers and servants, as well as between the landholders in the big farmhouse.

Pelle the Conqueror

Blu-ray

Film Movement Classics

1987 / Color / 1:85 widescreen / 150 min. / Pelle erobreren / Street Date May 30, 2017 / 39.95

Starring: Pelle Hvenegaard, Max von Sydow, Erik Paaske, Bjorn Granath, Astrid Villaume, Axel Strobye, Troels Asmussen, Kristina Tornqvist, Karen Wegener, Sofie Grabol, Lars Simonsen, Buster Larsen, John Wittig, Troels Munk, Nis Bank-Mikkelsen.

Cinematography: Jörgen Persson

Film Editor: Janus Billeskov Jansen

Original Music: Stefan Nilsson

Written by Bille August, Per Olov Enquist, Max Lundgren, Bjarne Reuter

from
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What Happened to the Women Directors in Hollywood? Part 4: 1984–1999

Mississippi Masala

by Carrie Rickey

This five-part Truthdig series by Carrie Rickey is published in partnership with Women and Hollywood. The series considers the historic accomplishments of women behind the camera, how they got marginalized, and how they are fighting for equal employment. Specifically, this series asks, why do females make up between 33 and 50 percent of film-school graduates but account for only seven percent of working directors? What happened to the women directors in Hollywood?

While female filmmakers waited for Judge Pamela Rymer to hand down a decision in the 1983 Directors Guild class-action suit against Warner Brothers and Columbia Pictures, alleging discrimination for not hiring women and ethnic minorities represented by the guild, there were positive signs of change in Hollywood.

In 1984, for the first time that almost anyone could remember, one needed two hands to count the number of feature films by women released in the U.S. market. One was Diane Kurys’ “Entre Nous” (1983), nominated for best foreign film at the Academy Awards in April 1984, making Kurys the second female director whose film was so honored.

Between 1950 and 1980, the number of movies directed by women in the Directors Guild of America (DGA) totaled 14. From 1984 to 1985 there were 12.

In 1984 many women were making their second features. Among them were Gillian Armstrong’s period drama “Mrs. Soffel,” Amy Heckerling’s gangster comedy “Johnny Dangerously,” Penelope Spheeris’ teenage-runaway saga “Suburbia,” and Amy Holden Jones’ romantic drama “Love Letters.” Martha Coolidge, beloved for “Valley Girl,” her 1983 debut, was on her third feature, “National Lampoon’s Joy of Sex.” With more women behind the movie camera in the United States than any time since the ’teens, it seemed that Hollywood was reopening the studio gates to women. Their movies featured women in lead roles.

The wave of optimism crested in 1985. Argentine director Maria Luisa Bemberg’s historical romance “Camila” (1984) was in contention for best foreign film. Susan Seidelman, an Nyu film-school grad who made a splash in 1983 with the indie “Smithereens,” released “Desperately Seeking Susan,” starring “It Girl” Rosanna Arquette and Madonna, cast when the latter was a relative unknown. It was a runaway hit. Heckerling and Spheeris each released third features, respectively “National Lampoon’s European Vacation” and “The Boys Next Door.” Coolidge released her fourth: “Real Genius,” a genuinely funny nerd comedy with a fully developed female character — and special effects.

Then came the crash.

In August 1985 Judge Rymer handed down her decision. While the class-action case was important and viable, Rymer ruled, she had to disqualify the DGA from leading the class due to a conflict of interest. White male members also competing for directing jobs dominated the guild, she said. Thus the DGA was in no position to represent the interests of its women and ethnic minority members. Out of exhaustion and lack of money, the Original Six, the group of female filmmakers that had first spurred the DGA to initiate the suit, did not pursue it any further.

As the DGA suit played out during the early 1980s, Hollywood’s business model was in flux. Studios abandoned the one-size-fits-all strategy of advertising a movie in general-interest publications and embraced segmented marketing — that is, making and marketing movies to a specific demographic. Fewer dollars were spent advertising movies in mainstream newspapers and more were spent on ads that ran during TV shows young males were said to watch. More and more, movies starred predominantly men and boys. Because actors had higher-profile roles, they could command higher salaries than actresses.

By dividing the market into sectors, studios divided the audience and the culture. Boys see movies about boys. Older people see movies about older people. Women see movies about women. Those in different demographics no longer watch the same stories.

In 1980, four of the 10 top box office stars were women: Sally Field, Jane Fonda, Sissy Spacek, and Barbra Streisand. In 1990 there was only one: Julia Roberts. According to 1990 statistics from the Screen Actors Guild, not only were actresses underpaid, but they were also “undercast”: 14 percent of the leading roles, and only 29 percent of all roles, went to women.

The “Indiana Jones” trilogy made in the 1980s reflected the progressively diminishing role of females in film during a decade when male action/adventures dominated the multiplex. In “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981), the character Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen) plays Indy’s helpmate. In “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” (1984), the Willie Scott character (Kate Capshaw) is helpless. And in “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” archeologist Elsa Schneider (Alison Doody) is the enemy.

Despite such trends, the late 1980s and 1990s proved to be boom years for female directors in Hollywood and Indiewood, as independent film is known. In 1987, Kathryn Bigelow, a onetime sculptor and graduate of Columbia University’s film program, made her second feature, the “vampire Western” “Near Dark.” And though Elaine May’s studio film “Ishtar” was almost universally panned upon release, it earned belated respect. Richard Brody of The New Yorker correctly described it as “an unjustly derided masterwork.” In 1987, six percent of films were directed by women, higher than at any time since 1916.

The percentage dropped in 1988, but that was a watershed year for female filmmakers. “Big,” a comedy from Penny Marshall (co-written by Anne Spielberg), was universally acclaimed. It was the first movie directed by a woman that surpassed $100 million at the box office. With the romantic comedy “Crossing Delancey,” Joan Micklin Silver returned to making big-screen fare, and her modest hit was well received. Also in 1988, Silver’s daughter, Marisa, made her second feature, “Permanent Record,” about teen suicide. “Salaam, Bombay!”, the first feature from Mira Nair, the India-born, Harvard-educated documentarian, was a best foreign film Oscar nominee.

The following year, “Look Who’s Talking” from Amy Heckerling likewise surpassed the $100 million mark for box office sales in the U.S. and made nearly $300 million worldwide. For the most part, though, heads of studios regarded Marshall’s and Heckerling’s box-office smashes as flukes. Two heads of production told me in 1991 that “movies by women don’t make money.” Nevertheless, it turned out to be a exceptional year for the quality and range of releases from women. And it shaped up to be a year when movies by female filmmakers did make serious money.

Some of the highlights of 1991: Julie Dash’s “Daughters of the Dust,” an evocative portrait of generations of Gullah women off the South Carolina coast circa 1901; Jodie Foster’s “Little Man Tate,” about a child prodigy emotionally torn between his mother and a psychologist for gifted children; and Mira Nair’s “Mississippi Masala,” a sexy romance about a South Asian woman born in Uganda (played by then-newcomer Sarita Choudhry) in love with an African-American man (Denzel Washington). Both Kathryn Bigelow’s action film “Point Break” and Barbra Streisand’s psychological study “Prince of Tides” examined the emotional costs to men who struggle to prove their masculinity. Bigelow’s movie grossed $83 million and Streisand’s $110 million. (Adjusted for inflation, that’s $148 million and $196 million in today’s dollars.)

Not only can female filmmakers make movies that show a different side of men, but they also make movies that show different aspects of women. Penny Marshall’s “A League of Their Own” (1992), about the All-American Girls Baseball Leagues during World War II, celebrates the athleticism (rather than the sexuality) of the female body. Nora Ephron’s “This is My Life,” her 1992 directorial debut about a single mom whose choice of comedy career affects her daughters, shows that career and motherhood need not be in conflict. Like Ephron’s film, Allison Anders’ “Gas Food Lodging” (also 1992) explores what happens when the children of single moms reconnect with biological fathers. Male directors were, and are not, making movies like these.

During the 1990s, almost every year brought a new evergreen made by a female filmmaker. In 1993 there were two. One was Jane Campion’s “The Piano,” a haunting allegory about a mute woman that struck a chord internationally. It earned $62 million at the box office and multiple Oscar nominations, including one for best director, making Campion the third woman to be cited in this category. The other was Nora Ephron’s “Sleepless in Seattle,” the comedic romance between two people who don’t meet in person until the last scene, which scored a $227 million box office.

“Sleepless” additionally introduced the questionable concept of the “chick flick” to a broader audience. This is a non-genre that has come to be defined as any movie that, according to the term’s proponents, women want to see and that men think they don’t want to watch — or any movie directed by a woman. The division between “chick flick” and its corollary, the “dick flick,” is a perhaps unintended consequence of target marketing, implying that movies represent a gender-linked proposition.

Almost overnight, the perception was created that movies predominantly featuring women, or “women’s interests,” or directed by women would shrivel the manhood of the male moviegoer. In 1994 the head of a major studio told me, without irony or shame, that “Women on the screen means no men in the audience.” When I asked him for data to back up his claim, he said he had it, but it was proprietary.

Despite such signs of cultural and corporate sexism, the 1990s were a good time to be a female filmmaker. In 1994, Gillian Armstrong’s “Little Women” was immediately embraced as a classic. Newcomer Darnell Martin’s “I Like it Like That,” an urban comedy about a working mother juggling job, marriage, and parenthood, earned positive reviews. And Rose Troche’s “Go Fish,” the first indie comedy about girl-on-girl courtship, marked a milestone for the burgeoning genre.

The following year, 16 films by women were in U.S. release, setting another record for that era. Many of them were comedies. There was Amy Heckerling’s “Clueless,” a droll version of Jane Austen’s “Emma” set at a Beverly Hills high school. There is Betty Thomas’ “The Brady Bunch Movie,” in which the former actress sets the characters of the 1970s TV hit in the 1990s to great comic effect. Distinctly not a comedy was Kathryn Bigelow’s “Strange Days,” a science-fiction thriller about sex crimes, which lost money but became a cult favorite. At the 1996 Oscar ceremony, with “Antonia’s Line,” Dutch filmmaker Marleen Gorris became the first female filmmaker to direct the award-winning foreign film.

But apart from Bigelow and Mimi Leder, a director of episodic television who in 1997 directed “The Peacemaker” and in 1998 “Deep Impact,” female filmmakers were not making action films. For the most part women made comedies and human stories, movies with no explosions in the opening scene. Veteran filmmaker Martha Coolidge spoke for many women when she noted that the scripts the studios sent her were for comedies or family dramas. “About 90 percent of what comes my way are ten different kinds of breast cancer stories, ten kinds of divorce stories, and ten kinds of women-taking-care-of-their-fathers stories,” she said. “I do those. I care about those deeply. But one does want to do more.”

Female filmmakers were typecast in the way many actors and actresses have been, for the most part pigeonholed in family drama and comedy genres. For example, in 1997 actress Kasi Lemmons made her directorial debut with “Eve’s Bayou,” a haunting family drama, and Betty Thomas returned with the Howard Stern biopic “Private Parts.” In 1998, Ephron returned with the romantic comedy “You’ve Got Mail.” Nancy Meyers, a long-time screenwriter, made her directorial debut with the family-friendly comedy “The Parent Trap,” and Brenda Chapman, a Disney animator, was one of three directors on “Prince of Egypt,” the animated story of Moses.

In 1999, three female filmmakers made rookie features unlike anything in American movies. Two were romantic dramas about teenage sexuality, the other an imaginative Shakespeare adaptation. Sofia Coppola’s “The Virgin Suicides,” based on the novel by Jeffrey Eugenides, looked at how boys look at girls, subversively turning the female gaze on the male gaze. Kimberly Peirce’s “Boys Don’t Cry” dramatized the life story of Teena Brandon, who changed her name and gender to become Brandon Teena and fell victim to a hate crime.

Julie Taymor, the theater director who created “The Lion King” on stage, made her movie debut with “Titus,” an anachronistic version of the Shakespeare history play “Titus Andronicus,” underscoring its parallels to Italy under Mussolini.

At the end of the decade — and century — of the 11,000 filmmakers working both in television and film included in the Directors Guild of America, about 2,300 were women. While women made up 21 percent of the membership, they comprised only 9 percent of the filmmakers working in movies.

Most, including Martha Lauzen, a professor at San Diego State University and the head of the Center for the Study of Women in Film and Television, naturally assumed that in the new century the needle would move toward 50/50.

In addition to writing film reviews and essays for Truthdig, Carrie Rickey has been a film critic at The Philadelphia Inquirer and Village Voice, and an art critic at Artforum and Art in America. Rickey has taught at various institutions, including School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of Pennsylvania, and has appeared frequently on NPR’s “Talk of the Nation,” MSNBC, and CNN.

What Happened to the Women Directors in Hollywood? Part 4: 1984–1999 was originally published in Women and Hollywood on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
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Antonia’s Line

Marleen Gorris' sightly absurdist, slightly magic realist movie about a strong woman who takes charge in a rural Dutch community is a fable about a kind of matriarchal utopia -- where decisions are made with patience and understanding, the weak are protected and women aren't abused. It's an Oscar winner for Best Foreign film -- the first directed by a woman, Antonia's Line Blu-ray Film Movement 1995 / Color / 1:78 widescreen / 103 min. / Antonia / Street Date April 19, 2016 / 39.95 Starring Willeke van Ammelrooy, Els Dottermans, Dora van der Groen, Veerle van Overloop, Esther Vriesendorp, Carolien Spoor, Thyrza Ravesteijn, Mil Seghers, Jan Decleir, Elsie de Brauw, Reinout Bussemaker, Marina de Graaf, Jan Steen, Catherine ten Bruggencate, Paul Kooij, Fran Waller Zeper, Leo Hogenboom, Flip Filz, Wimie Wilhelm. Cinematography Willy Stassen Film Editors Wim Louwrier, Michiel Reichwein Original Music Ilona Sekacz Produced by Gerard Cornelisse, Hans de Weers, Hans de Wolf Written and Directed by Marleen Gorris
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Time Machine: Rare Woman Foreign Film Oscar Winner Bier on the Red Carpet Long Before Directing Cooper-Lawrence Duo

Susanne Bier Oscar winner 'In a Better World' director Susanne Bier Susanne Bier, whose In a Better World won the 2011 Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award, is seen above on the 83rd Academy Awards' Red Carpet, just outside the Kodak Theatre. The other 2011 Oscar nominees in the Best Foreign Language Film category were: Rachid Bouchareb's Outside the Law / Hors-la-loi (Algeria). Alejandro González Iñárritu's Biutiful (Mexico). Yorgos Lanthimos' Dogtooth (Greece). Denis Villeneuve's Incendies (Canada). As in previous years, several international favorites were left out of the 2011 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar competition. Among these were the following: Xavier Beauvois' French Academy César winner Of Gods and Men / Des hommes et des dieux (France). Semih Kaplanoglu's 2010 Berlin Film Festival winner Bal / Honey (Turkey). Apichatpong Weerasethakul's 2010 Cannes Film Festival winner Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives / Loong Boonmee raleuk chat (Thailand). Prior to In a Better World,
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Polak reveals Vita and Virginia details

  • ScreenDaily
Polak reveals Vita and Virginia details
Dutch director Sacha Polak has revealed further details of her first English-language project, Vita and Virginia.

The film, based on the play by Eileen Atkins, tells the story of the passionate love affair between writers Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West. Both women were members of the free thinking Bloomsbury set but their lesbian affair scandalised parts of British society. Sackville-West was married to the celebrated politician and diarist, Harold Nicholson.

Romola Garai has come on board to play Sackville-West.

“She (Garai) is so interesting and sexy. She will be the perfect Vita,” said Polak, who was at this year’s Berlinale with new film Zurich, sold by Beta.

The part of Woolf will be cast shortly. Polak insists that her film’s Woolf won’t be the “gloomy” and “depressing” figure with the prosthetic nose played by Nicole Kidman in The Hours.

“We are keen on showing another Virginia Woolf, a funny one
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Simon Perry joins Sweden's Film i Vast

  • ScreenDaily
UK veteran producer Simon Perry has been appointed head of production at Swedish regional film centre Film i Väst in Trollhättan, aka Sweden’s Trollywood.

Perry - former head of British Screen Finance and, more recently, the Irish Film Board from 2006-11 – has signed a two-year contract with the centre and started in his new job this week.

He replaces Swedish producer Jessica Ask, who left to join independent production company Anagram Film & TV.

“We are happy to welcoming Perry to Film i Väst, and look forward to a collaboration with one of the world’s most experienced co-producers on the international scene,” said CEO Tomas Eskildsson.

Film i Vast operates on an annual budget of $11.5m (Sek 93m).

Perry, a film journalist, independent filmmaker and producer with his own Umbrella Films, was head of state-financed development and production company British Screen Finance (later known as the UK Film Coucil) from 1991.

Since 2000 he has concentrated on teaching
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Auteur Directors: Any American Women?

In 100 years of cinema, no American woman director has ever been invited to join the pantheon of international auteur directors. Non-American women directors like Andrea Arnold, Jane Campion, Liliana Cavani, Claire Denis, Marleen Gorris, Agnieszka Holland, Lynne Ramsay, Agnes Varda, Lina Wertmuller among others-- directors with bodies of work that match those of their male counterparts-- hardly exist in America, with the possible exceptions of masterful experimental directors, Maya Daren and Nina Menkes.

Kathryn Bigelow, who could be a top contender for American auteur director, had to leave America, after six years of unemployment, to seek financing in Europe, and is still not included with men among auteur directors. Other successful women directors who have made both commercially and critically successful features in America are mostly film and TV stars: Drew Barrymore, Jodie Foster, Penny Marshall, Barbra Streisand, Betty Thomas, to name a few. These directors have done fine work, but mostly within the confines of the studio system where, just once in a blue moon, a director like Nora Ephron, Catherina Hardwicke, Mimi Leder or Nancy Meyers can carve a niche.

The question arises, who are the American women directors whose films reveal the work of an auteur director? One could jump in with dozens of directors, from Anders, Arzner, Bigelow, Cholondenko, Coppola, Coolidge, Dash, Dunham, Hardwicke & Holofcener— just to start through the alphabet, but like Bigelow, none of these excellent directors is embraced as an auteur by the paternalist American film establishment.

In the United States less than 5% of feature films are directed by women, so for a director to emerge who is not already a women celebrity, is virtually impossible. Women directors usually make just one film before getting taken down early in the pipeline: if it’s not the misogynistic Hollywood studio system that expels them, their films are given paltry distribution and P&A budgets, or sometimes gender-biased critics comprised of over 80% males will likely taint their reviews.

One perfect example of a very fine American woman director whose body of work clearly distinguishes her as an auteur director is Jane Spencer. Jane Spencer is the director of the beloved low-budget indie feature Little Noises that premiered at Sundance some years ago to ecstatic reviews— and enamored audiences, and of Faces On Mars, which premiered in Europe at Solothurn. Her new film, The Ninth Cloud, which is being repped for distribution by Shoreline Entertainment is a dreamy, surreal marvel, which could do very well on the 2014 international festival circuit.

For Spencer, who dreams big, but must keep her budget small, ingenuity is the name of the game. As she says, “My dream as a kid was to direct big David Lean-style epics, so working within the framework I can create, I try to imbue my indie films with giant, epic themes.” Imagine if women directors like Spencer were afforded the budgets and opportunities to realize their immense talents for creating epic, visionary films.

I have always thought that film directors are like alchemists and magicians, but women directors have to be able to master another kind of magic as well: film financing in a void. Most women directors must cobble their production budgets together in any number of mysterious ways, and I wanted to know how Spencer had done it again. How did she succeed in making yet another wonderful feature film? How had she found the money?

Spencer answered the question with a question: “In an industry so difficult for women directors, how can any women director raise the money to make a film? You are basically forced to think outside the box. You just can’t give up. You try all the traditional methods: submit your script to actors, agents, studios, production companies, get it to friends in the business. They almost always lead to dead ends.

“So, finally, you go out and find it dollar-by-dollar— private equity from investors who like the project obviously, private loans you— yourself— take out. You get everything on the cheap, but keep the quality; get everyone to do you favors, but make sure they ‘get it’ and believe in the film. That’s the only way an American woman can make an indie feature film.”

Spencer shot The Ninth Cloud on super 16mm. Having a film camera instead of shooting digitally gives The Ninth Cloud a look that is simultaneously both very modern and nostalgic. As Spencer says, “It allows for the documentary, free-camera look I wanted to capture inspired by films like The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, Darling, and Billy Liar. These low-budget 1960’s British kitchen sink films were an inspiration for Spencer, her Production Designer/Producer Richard Hudson and her Dp, Sam Mitchell. She goes on, “I wanted the film to express an impressionistic vision of Zena’s (the main character) world.”

In the film, in which we follow the dreamy, strange Zena, through what turn out to be her final days....Spencer glorifies the vulnerable Zena through a nuanced appreciation for her ability to “see.” Keeping her indie budget low, Spencer uses inexpensive, old film technology to record her character’s fleeting, childlike, and magical perception of the world around her—and it works beautifully. The film captures the elusive, dream-like moments, as fleeting as a painter’s sudden awareness of reflected sunlight glancing off rippling water-- impressionism-- that gets at the essence of art, and is the very reason we revere our great male “Masters of Cinema.”

As Spencer puts it: “I wanted to depict, from a women’s perspective for once, the victorious dreamer. One doesn’t have to accept ‘reality’ to live a meaningful life. Whatever your journey is—stay with your dream. You cannot be dissuaded by pressure to conform to social norms, systems, or institutions that tell you ‘cannot' because it’s 'unrealistic' or 'impossible.'"

We all know that numerically, becoming a female film director in America is virtually impossible— as former DGA president, Martha Coolidge says: “like winning the lottery.” It’s a bizarre anomaly that America, the leader of the free world, virtually excludes women from its most culturally influential global export—media. Hollywood’s level of support of women film directors is among the worst in the world, something that is now accentuated by the recent drafting of international charters that promote the gender equity among women directors in many countries outside the United States.

However, making feature films that move and inspire audiences is Spencer’s quest and she has not been dissuaded by statistics. She says: “This was a very, very difficult film to finance. We had some wonderful equity investors, our own company invested a lot of the money-- especially for post, and there turned out to be not many pre-sales. It was very much patchwork financing, very hard, and we filmed it over the space of a year, in sections, because budget-wise, we had to.”

Even after her critical success at Sundance her studio meetings were difficult. After years of struggling to get financed out of L.A., Spencer happened to move to Europe for personal reasons, and immediately had much better luck.

"We got it done-- though at times we didn’t think we would. We started financing in 2008 when the financial crisis happened, so some of our financiers fell out. Our wonderful male lead at the time, Guillaume Depardieu, whom I adored, died of pneumonia on a set in Romania. I really wondered if this film would happen - for a moment. But then the producers and I got right back up on our feet and started financing it again. We found the amazing lead actress Megan Maczko in a play on London’s West End....Michael Madsen, who is great in the film—so sympathetic -- playing a dishwasher/poet (instead of a guy with a gun) - was lovely and stayed with the project....and we got the great French actor Jean Hugues Anglade onboard - We got right back up on our feet and started financing it again. By 2011 we had finished shooting. We’ve been in post for two years: all of 2012 and much of 2013.”

All the hard work has been well worth the effort. Spencer’s multi-layered film is woven with themes of Djuna Barnes and Baudelaire and traverses the landscapes of Marcel Carne and Antonioni. What makes the film so exceptional is how freshly these motifs have been re-imagined through this director’s effortless lens. The Ninth Cloud is at once tender and deeply moving, yet it manages to reject sentimentalities while glorifying its heroine and uplifting the audience.

Will women directors like Spencer ever join the pantheon of international male auteur directors? That depends upon the whether or not the U.S. cultural consciousness evolves to finally embrace gender equity in our nation’s most influential global export—media. Only then will women directors get the budgets and opportunities to test their metal and take their rightful places in the annals of American cinema.

The Ninth Cloud will be opening in select theaters internationally starting 2014.

Please visit The Int’l List of Living Women Directors: http://www.womendirectorsinhollywood.com/

Marie Giese is American feature film director, a writer, a member & elected Director Category Representative for women at the DGA. She graduated from Wellesley College and UCLA graduate film schooland co-founded the foremost international web forum for political action for women directors (Visit Here). An activist for parity for women directors in Hollywood, she is in development to direct two feature films Rain and Treasure Hunt
See full article at SydneysBuzz »

Adele Haenel, Bill Skarsgard Among Efp's 2012 Shooting Stars

Adele Haenel, Bill Skarsgard Among Efp's 2012 Shooting Stars
For the past 15 years, European Film Promotion (Efp) has showcased ten young actors who have shown potential in feature films in order to help them expand their careers to a more international level. Previous Shooting Stars have included Thure Lindhardt, Mélanie Laurent, Elena Anaya, and Carey Mulligan. The actors will appear at the 62nd Berlin International Film Festival, which runs February 9-19, 2012. Dutch Oscar winner Marleen Gorris, member of the Shooting Stars jury, commented: "the films were a real pleasure to watch. We came away marvelling at the often brilliant way the nominated actors portrayed the feeling of a kind of modern loneliness, taking you on a journey in their search for identity no matter which part of Europe they came from." The actors selected this year are: France: Adèle Haenel Nominated by uniFrance films ...
See full article at Indiewire »

Oscar 2012: Ten Female Directors on Best Foreign Language Film List

Nadine Labaki, Where Do We Go Now? Today it was announced that Patty Jenkins, whose Monster earned Charlize Theron a Best Actress Oscar in early 2004, will be directing Thor 2. Officially, Perkins is the first woman director at the helm of a big-budget, Hollywood superhero movie. Below you'll find ten movies directed by female filmmakers that are among the 63 contenders for nominations for the 2012 Academy Awards' Best Foreign Language Film category. Seven of those hail from Europe; one is from the Americas, one from East Asia, and one from West Asia (or the Middle East). They are: the Dominican Republic's Leticia Tonos for Love Child, France's Valérie Donzelli for the semi-autobiographical Declaration of War, Greece's Athina Rachel Tsangari for Attenberg, Hong Kong's Ann Hui for A Simple Life, and Ireland's Juanita Wilson for As If I Am Not There. Also: Lebanon's Nadine Labaki for Toronto Film Festival Audience Award winner Where Do We Go Now?
See full article at Alt Film Guide »

Margaret Tyzack obituary

One of Britain's most distinguished actors, known for her roles on stage and screen

Margaret Tyzack, who has died aged 79, was one of Britain's greatest and most popular actors, working on stage, television and film for more than half a century. Sometimes described as being in the mould of Edith Evans and Flora Robson, she will be remembered particularly for performances in the golden age of BBC TV drama – Winifred in The Forsyte Saga (1967), Antonia in I, Claudius (1976) – as well as for stage performances such as Martha in the National Theatre's revival of Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1981), for which she won an Olivier award for best actress, and Lottie with Maggie Smith in Lettice and Lovage (1987 and 1990), which earned her both Tony and Variety Club stage actress of the year awards. In 2008, well into her 70s, she scored perhaps one of her finest triumphs on stage as the wily,
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Margaret Tyzack obituary

One of Britain's most distinguished actors, known for her roles on stage and screen

Margaret Tyzack, who has died aged 79, was one of Britain's greatest and most popular actors, working on stage, television and film for more than half a century. Sometimes described as being in the mould of Edith Evans and Flora Robson, she will be remembered particularly for performances in the golden age of BBC TV drama – Winifred in The Forsyte Saga (1967), Antonia in I, Claudius (1976) – as well as for stage performances such as Martha in the National Theatre's revival of Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1981), for which she won an Olivier award for best actress, and Lottie with Maggie Smith in Lettice and Lovage (1987 and 1990), which earned her both Tony and Variety Club stage actress of the year awards. In 2008, well into her 70s, she scored perhaps one of her finest triumphs on stage as the wily,
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

Lisa Cholodenko on "The Kids Are All Right," "High Art" and working on "The L Word"

You likely have your own views on The Kids Are All Right, whether you've seen it or not. We've had several viewpoints shared by contributors of different opinions, but people in some parts of the country still haven't been able to see the film. Today, The Kids Are All Right is released on DVD, which means anyone with access to the internet can purchase a copy and watch it for themselves.

Out writer/director Lisa Cholodenko is behind the film that got people talking about lesbian partnerships, gay parenthood and sexual fluidity. The release of The Kids Are All Right also coincided with a new study about children of gay parents being well-adjusted, prompting many reports on the film to signal it as proof that there's a new "normal" when it comes to the nuclear family, and it's not always about having one mom and one dad.

But with power comes great responsibility.
See full article at AfterEllen.com »

'Californication' Actress Honors Late Husband Through New Film Project

  • BuddyTV
'Californication' Actress Honors Late Husband Through New Film Project
While fans can't wait for the season premiere of Showtime's Californication to air on September 28, some spoilers have already been released regarding the second season, which brings back David Duchovny as Hank Moody, a troubled writer who is struggling with midlife crisis and an insatiable desire for sex.

In fact, the second season will introduce us to a new recurring character named Daisy, played by Carla Gallo, who guest starred in series such as Law and Order, ER, Crossing Jordan, House and Bones.  Hank will also be thrown into prison, where he will be seen with another new character Lew Ashby, who will be played by Callum Keith Rennie.

Meanwhile, in other news, Californication actress Natascha McElhone, who plays Hank Moody's ex-girlfriend and mother of his child, will be taking on Oscar-winning Marleen Gorris' film Heaven and Earth, in which she will play the central character.
See full article at BuddyTV »

McElhone Lands Doctor Role

  • WENN
McElhone Lands Doctor Role
Actress Natascha McElhone is to star in a new movie about a pioneering British doctor - just months after her surgeon husband tragically died from heart failure.

The Californication star is take the lead role in a film chronicling the life of James Miranda Barry - a woman who pretended to be a man in order to qualify as a doctor.

McElhone's husband, British plastic surgeon Martin Kelly, suffered a cardiac arrest in May, collapsing on the doorstep of the couple's London home.

Heaven and Earth, directed by Oscar-winner Marleen Gorris, will begin filming next year - after McElhone gives birth to her third child with Kelly.

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