Sign in to follow this  
Erkki

Women Directors

Recommended Posts

I think I might add more to this thread after PÖFF, because here I'm watching many movies that are directed by women this year, but I want to mention one immediately.

 

Alice Rohrwacher is a very interesting director. I discovered here only now at the festival - her Happy as Lazzaro was the first movie I saw here and it was magical and touching. Then I proceeded to find her previous feature - the Cannes Grand Prix winner The Wonders, just saw it, and that is just as wonderful. Both movies are about people living somehow outmoded lives in modern Italian countryside. There is some kind of dreamlike magic in these movies that feels a bit like Tarkovsky. I like it a lot and I think she might become one of my favourite living directors.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So this year at PÖFF, the local film festival, I conciously selected more films by women for viewing. And the selection was actually not just to give women more of a voice, but I think after seeing hundreds of movies per year for several years I'm actually a bit tired of the kind stories men tend to tell with cinema, and I'm actually finding that watching more movies by women can expand the space of the kinds of stories that I see.

 

I saw a total of 34 screenings. 2 of which were cassettes of shorts, so a total of 42 movies. 15 of the movies were directed by women, so not exactly half, but close. What I noticed was that not all women make films where women are depicted as equals of men. Especially a slavic film used many of the old patriarchic stereotypes. And actually one movie made by a man that by the description I thought would be somewhat sexist (The Bra), left an actually good impression with it's treatment of women, and actually somewhat less good with it's depiction of "normal men" (the main characters were somewhat of weirdos/outcasts).

 

Ok, I will now list some directors and movies that I liked.

 

I already mentioned Alice Rohrwacher and Happy as Lazzaro (Lazzaro felice). I've now also seen Corpo Celeste by the director and I think she's really a master already and can't wait to see her next movie. I find them really refreshing compared to most of cinema today.

 

Tatiana Margaux Bonhomme's feature debut is a really well made film Head Above Water (Marche ou crève) about a girl having to take care of her sister with a disabilty, while her parents' separation has made it harder for her. I had some issues with it, but I think overall it is an excellent debut.

 

Katherine Jerkovic also makes a strong feature debut with Roads in February (Les routes en février). It's a story of a young woman returning from Canada to Uruguay to reconnect with her grandmother after her father has passed away. Really beautiful scenery and relaxing atmosphere in this one.

 

An even stronger feature debut by Angelica Zollo is her experimental film Trauma is a Time Machine. The title is very apt: it explores how trauma (of rape) influences both the future and the past.

 

Cristina Callego is also a first time feature co-director behind Birds of Passage. She has also produced movies like Embrace of the Serpent. Birds of Passage tells the story of how the drug mafia got started in Colombia through the fall of tradition-respecting families for whom the business was too much. Quite impressively told.

 

Debra Granik's (Winter's Bone) new movie Leave No Trace is somewhat divisive. I thought the directing and cinematography were a bit weak, but some people love it. It's definitely a good story worth seeing.

 

Emily Atef's black and white 3 Days in Quiberon is an example of perfect photography in film. The contrast in each shot is incredibly well tuned. I think it's actually tuned way before shooting - even the shade of the costumes seems perfectly selected and I read somewhere that the film was based on real photographs of the event depicted, which is the German actress Romy Schneider being interviewed in a spa hotel over 3 days. I don't know much of the background but I think this interview is famous due to how personally revealing it was. And I think it's really well done not only visually, but also in tempo and everything. Plus it has some Denis Lavant in it.

 

Nadine Labaki is the Lebanese director responsible for Capernaum ( کفرناحوم ). This is a really harrowing story of a 12-year-old boy who has to take on more responsibility than even adults around him can handle.

 

Claudia Priscilla co-directed Bixa Travesty, a documentary about Mc Linn Da Quebrada, black trans woman, activist and performer from Sao Paolo. The film is really full of positive energy (and some nudity).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Leave No Trace is divisive? I thought it received universal critical acclaim? Wikipedia says it's the second most reviewed movie in all of history to receive a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. I watched it last night and loved it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It seemed divisive based on some letterboxd reviews (and IRL chat). But I didn’t really seek out the wider opinion about it so what I saw may be skewed. Anyway there seems no question to me that its approach in cinematic storytelling is somewhat different (I would say subpar) than what I would expect from a great movie.

 

On rotten tomatoes the 100% shows that everyone thought it was good rather than bad, not whether it was thought to be just above average or great.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Erkki said:

On rotten tomatoes the 100% shows that everyone thought it was good rather than bad, not whether it was thought to be just above average or great.

Yes, but "everyone thought X" strikes me as literally the opposite of divisive, right? My impression is that Letterboxd reviews are not a particularly representative swathe of opinions about a film. 

 

4 hours ago, Erkki said:

 Anyway there seems no question to me that its approach in cinematic storytelling is somewhat different (I would say subpar) than what I would expect from a great movie.

I think this is a fairly idiosyncratic view.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sure, by divisive I didn't mean universally divisive so I should have clarified. I'm not sure if it's idiosyncratic because I also saw some filmmakers like Sean Baker comment that he didn't find it effective. Well, what he said was that his partner cried a lot and he didn't, but that's what I read into it. But to go into specific details what I think were wrong, I would have to rewatch it, which I'm not planning any time soon. I think there were (editing) issues of timing of some deliveries, there seemed issues of selecting the wrong shots (I think there was a bigger close-up of a random dude playing guitar than any close-ups of the main characters, but I could wrong) and shooting with the wrong kind of lighting - main characters in a key scene moving in and out of shadows, suddenly being overexposed in the shot. But it also could have been that the director was intentionally going for something where he downplayed the importance of the main characters, but in that case that didn't seem to connect with the story that was being told, because then the whole movie should have put much much more time into portraying the community.

 

[edit]Also, about the story, I think it's a good story in the sense that it's somewhat unique, but I didn't really see that the strong motivation for this dude to live in the forest was explained.

 

I mean, it was so strong that he just abandoned his daughter. But nothing in the film explained why he wanted it so badly. I could not imagine the connection between PTSD and not finding any joy from your relationship with your daughter even as you obviously care about her, but then abandon to fate, leave her to a place where she owes a lot do people around her and probably doesn't even go to school.

The daughter's character was perfectly relatable, though.

 

[edit2]Actually, yeah, the more I think about the story itself or at least as much of it as this film chose to focus on, the more I think that it's really told ineffectively throughout. Every good story has a conflict at it's heart and smaller conflict arcs to give interest to individual parts of the story. In this move the conflict is totally abstracted away and left to the imagination of the viewer. Even a scene near the start where they are discovered is told without any tension, they are just suddenly seen by someone random who appears almost after the fact. In some way it's consistent with being told from the perspective of the girl, but it's not the most effective storytelling. It seems to work for a lot of people though, and I can kind of see why - if you just let yourself be drawn into it and don't see the problems I see, I guess on some level it emotionally clicks, even if what's on the screen is not 100% working towards enhancing those emotions. Damn, now I already feel like Leave No Trace is 2018's Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing Missouri for me - a movie most people love but I have many issues with.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

BTW Just to show that I'm not entirely off base here, here's a review that is counted among the positive ones on RT, but ends up saying that he found the acting great, but the whole movie basically disappointing (he also doesn't go into a lot of details, though). I would say if there's are many similar opinions and on the other hand a lot of love for the movie, it is still somewhat divisive, despite the fact that the lower opinions don't fall into the "rotten" category ( I don't know how much lower the 3.2/5 score would have to be to count towards "rotten").

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great thread!

 

Annemarie Jacir is a great director. When I Saw You and Salt of This Sea are essential.

 

I also like Mais Darwazah's My Love Awaits Me by the Sea; hokey title, but the movie eventually makes fun of itself. Not sure if that works in translation—the deconstructive character is an Arab archetype—but I think it's worth the watch.

 

Cherien Dabis's Amreeka was good. May in the Summer was filmed across from my old house, but I've yet to see it.

 

On 12/2/2018 at 11:52 PM, Erkki said:

 

Nadine Labaki is the Lebanese director responsible for Capernaum ( کفرناحوم ). This is a really harrowing story of a 12-year-old boy who has to take on more responsibility than even adults around him can handle.

Glad to see Nadine Labaki get some love. Where Do We Go Now? had my theater in Jordan sobbing. That movie really hit home for a lot of us.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this