July 12, 2008

Women at the Box Office This Weekend

Opening this weekend in NY, LA, Washington, DC and Minneapolis is The Stone Angel written and directed by Kari Skogland and starring Ellen Burstyn.

The Stone Angel tells the story of a dying woman looking back at her life, her choices and how they effected her family. Ellen Burstyn plays the older Hagar Shipley, a woman clearly ahead of her time, who followed her heart and not societal conventions. Newcomer Christine Horne plays Hagar as a young woman, the daughter of the most prominent man in town, who instead of following daddy's rules went off and married Bram Shipley a hot-headed dreamer with no prospects of supporting his wife. Hagar quickly learns was it was like to be living on the other side when her father cuts her off, yet she continues to believe that someday she will win her father's love and respect back. Suffice it to say that doesn't happen, and it makes Hagar quite bitter and she takes out her bitterness and disappointment on her son Marvin (played as an adult by Dylan Baker). As she realizes her life it coming to an end, Hagar finally comes to terms with herself and her son in a way that sets both of them free.

Great performances from Burstyn, Dylan Baker and Christine Horne. The film is quiet and at times a little too slow. The NY Times ad from last Sunday had Ellen Page in it (since she's hot now), but you will be disappointed if you expect to see a lot of her. She has a very small part. The film really belongs to Burstyn and Horne.

Other Women-Centric Films in Theatres:
Kit Kittredge: An American Girl
The Last Mistress- limited
Brick Lane- continues to expand in Scottsdale, CA, Denver, CT, Washington DC, MD, VA, southern FL, NJ, Long Island, Portland, OR, and Philadelphia
Sex and the City
A Previous Engagement - opens in Palm Springs- read interview with director Joan Carr-Wiggin:
Water Lillies- opens in SF- read interview with director Celine Sciamma:

July 11, 2008

Interview with Kari Skogland, Director of The Stone Angel

Women & Hollywood: The Stone Angel is a beloved book in Canada. Were you nervous about taking this well known book to the screen?

Kari Skogland: Absolutely. It is studied in high school and University and everyone in Canada has a love/hate relationship with it, as well as preconceived notions of who Hagar, the lead character, is or isn't. It's a tough read as well and when it came out in the 1960s, it was considered to be quite a feminist book with spiritual questions and was banned in many areas. My daunting task was to turn this epic story told as one woman's stream of consciousness, into a cinematic one, as well as to update her to modern times.
W&H: You tell a very moving story about a woman taking stock of her life and realizing that some of the choices she made, especially relating to her son Marvin, were quite hurtful. What can Hagar's search for peace teach the rest of us?
KS: Such a great question! This story is very much a dialogue with god and spirituality. Hagar questions and rebels against the god she is taught is vengeful, a god where a woman's sexuality and independence is somehow a bad thing - she rebels against false pride but because of the legacy of family and community, she falls victim to it and makes well intentioned but, ultimately, destructive choices. On set we all were continually applying "the Hagar effect" to our own lives as a sort of check list and I certainly have made adjustments and am conscious of when I fall off the rails. Her truth and discovery is that God is love and love is unconditional. Bram and she were in love - outside forces that she bought in caused her to withdraw her approval of him- and therefore put conditions on his love for her. It destroyed him, them, and her life as she applied her 'conditions' to her sons.
W&H: Hagar was clearly a woman ahead of her time. She spoke out, had a mind of her own, followed her heart and clearly did not want to live the life her mother did. Yet it turns out that her pride and love led to a very unexpectedly difficult life for her and her family. Talk a little bit about the character of Hagar and how she is unique from the type of woman we usually see on screen today.
KS: What Ellen Burstyn and I both loved about this woman is that she is strong, archetypal, vulnerable and yet made of steel. She is wonderfully flawed. She survives the best way she knows and fails. Her redemption comes when she accepts the love she feels. That's such a terrific inner journey, filled with depth and humanity.

It's not often you see a woman who isn't a traditional victim; or the flip, smart side kick. I think most women portrayed in films are truthfully various versions of the silent films of the 1920's; i.e. - a woman tied up on the rail tracks with the train coming, or tied up on the logging company conveyor belt headed for the buzz saw!

Generally women characters are imagined by men, and that is not to say men can't imagine a female character, but they have to do their research to get it right, just as a female writer has to avoid stereotypes when writing the male characters. We as women have to be more vocal about it as well - we need to support female driven stories and films because if there is no financial upside, there is no way to get our stories out there. That's my call to action ladies!!!
W&H: The numbers for women directing films here in the US are brutally low. Why do you think women continue to struggle in this area and what has your experience been?
KS: I am so fortunate to be able to make my living as a director given my gender - kind of against the odds. I have to say I've never paid attention to limitations set by others, and perhaps that’s why I've been lucky enough to continue to work. Truthfully, it's about trust whether you are a man or a woman. A financier or a producer needs to know that I will get them there on time, on budget and with a great film. My creative vision is obviously paramount, but it's a blend of sensibilities and stamina, so, one has to always be working on skills.

I've always taken risks. Some work out better than others but, I always learn something I can bring to the next project and I try never to get discouraged. Women will continue to struggle until gender is secondary to skill. I don't think it is a conspiracy by the way, I think it is just a pervasive norm that keeps dropping the women off the list. Work begets more work so, if women aren't working their way up the ladder particularly in the more visible genres like "action", then developing the skills that will allow a studio, actor, producer or financier to trust them becomes difficult to achieve. Sort of a chicken and egg issue scenario. There's no specific solution other than to continue to prove oneself and be a bit "bloody minded" about accepting the word "no".
W&H: I've heard from a variety of people that there are financial resources available through co-production deals and government funds for film made by Canadians based on Canadian material. Is that true? And if it is do you think that having these funds available makes it easier for Canadian women directors?
KS: Yes, there are financial resources around the world so having other passports is a good thing, but I don't think the numbers reflect any difference. I do have to say I've been given many opportunities to work on projects that are not traditionally directed by a woman which leads me to other projects because my Canadian passport gives producers access to some government money at which point the gender issue tends to dissolve...
W&H: What's next for you?
KS: Fifty Dead Men Walking, a political thriller set in the late 1980s in Northern Ireland. I wrote, directed and produced and I am blessed with another great cast: Sir Ben Kingsley, Jim Sturgess, Kevin Zegers, Nathalie Press and Rose McGowan. It's very different from The Stone Angel. The story is tough and edgy, loads of action which I love to do. It's ultimately about doing the right moral thing when everyone around you -- even the good guys are not -- even if it costs you everything, including your life. War is a place of many shades, none of which are easy to decode. I guess I am drawn to exploring the truth as we discover it in ourselves under extreme conditions.
The Stone Angel opens today in NY, LA, Washington DC and Minneapolis.

July 10, 2008

News Briefs

  • LA Times writer and new blogger Patrick Goldstein talks to the diva of HBO docs Sheila Nevins who was recently admitted into the Academy.
  • Kristin Scott Thomas will make her Broadway debut this fall as Arkadina in a new production of Chekov's The Seagull (Broadway World)
  • Podcast Interview with Lisa F. Jackson, director, The Greatest Silence: Rape in the Congo (Zoom-in-Online)
  • Tovah Feldshuh will star in the world premiere of “Irena’s Vow,” a new play by Dan Gordon about an unsung wartime heroine in Nazi-occupied Poland, opening Sept. 22 at New York’s Baruch Performing Arts Center. (Variety)
  • Natalie Portman talks about her work for FINCA International, how she balances her activism with her career as an actress, and her advice on making a difference. (Huffington Post)
  • Helen Mirren received the career achievement prize at the second Roma Fiction Fest this week. (HR)
  • The Secret Life of Bees directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood, and starring Dakota Fanning, Jennifer Hudson, Queen Latifah, Alicia Keys and Sophie Okonedo will world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival.
  • The Duchess starring Keira Knightley and Ralph Fiennes about Lady Georgiana Spencer will also premiere at the Toronto Film Fest.

Hancock: Super man, Super woman, super chic???

Here is guest post from screenwriter, and author Amy Ferris. (warning- spoilers included)

Maybe it’s just me.

I want to preface this by saying that I liked the movie Hancock. Much more than I thought I would. I like Will Smith. He’s smart and sexy and has a great face. And I really like that guy Bateman. Talk about smart and sexy and wow, what a great, great face – he’s funny, and charming and easy, in other words - effortless.

And for a good chunk of the movie I could relate to Charlize Theron. I could relate to her being a mom (although, truth be told, I don’t have kids, but I could relate to her balancing children, husband, life…), I could relate to the Thursday night meatball and spaghetti dinners (although…another truth, my husband is a vegetarian, so we don’t eat meatballs. I eat meatballs, I actually sneak eating meatballs, but that’s another story…), I could relate to her relationship with her husband (finally…need I say more?). And she’s a wonderful, gorgeous, talented actress. Truly. She lights up the screen.

But, and this is again, maybe just me – I could not relate at all when she turned into Super Woman. You know how Superman runs into a phone booth, spins, and boom – head to toe costume, cape, slicked back hair? I can only imagine this Super Woman dashing into a Sephora store, putting on every black kohl eyeliner and hair straightening balm imaginable, and once all that make-up is meticulously applied, she explodes out and lands in H & M, where, in a flurry, manages to try on, and buys (or borrows) a “skintight” black “to the belly button” low-cut tee, skintight black pants, and matching “to the knee” leather boots.

And then of course, all dolled up in her Superwoman ensemble, she goes toe to toe with Hancock.

My husband, who was now sitting on the edge of his seat, (prior to her costume change, he was casually leaning back eating popcorn) says audibly, “God. Jesus. Whoa.” I turn to him, and tell him to sit back, and eat the popcorn.

My point is: I thought Charlize Theron was pretty cool to begin with. She was a mom, a wife, she had a career, she loved her family, she had emotional issues, she had secrets, and she made love to her husband. This to me is a superwoman. I am at a point in my life when getting out of bed can seem miraculous. Before all the black kohl eyeliner, I thought she was beautiful and simple, and smart, and elegant – and a bit disheveled, and had qualities that most women can relate to. Except for the long legs. Most women I know are hoping that Spanx comes out with a leg lengthener along with the tummy tuck and thigh reducer.

Having her wear black eyeliner and skin tight clothing is not my idea of a superwoman, or superhero.

I wonder if a woman had directed this movie, if she would have made Charlize’s spirit -- her heart, her passion, her commitment the very qualities that made her super. I understand all the subtext, the need for sexiness, and theatrics – I understand the need to make people seem larger than life. I understand the need for a make-up artist. I do. But I think the message could have been a bit louder had she stayed exactly who she was, and manifested her dormant power, proving that equality between men and women is not because a woman is wearing high heels and therefore can look a man straight in the eye, but because she has the ability to kick ass barefoot.

- Amy Ferris is an author, a screenwriter, a television writer and a journalist, she lives in Pennsylvania and New York.
photo: Albert L. Ortega/PR Photos

Hollywood Feminist of the Day: Maggie Cheung

For starting the Women Innovation and Dream Fund to help financing 10 university women with financial backing and mentoring. Now we just need someone to write a good part to bring her back into theatres. Her last film was the recovering drug addict in Clean in 2004.

China Daily

Differences of Opinion

I always find it interesting to note that differences between male and female writers about issues. Movies are no different. We all remember Manohla Dargis' piece that started off our summer of anger at the status of women in films and here are the titles of two different pieces that I read this week. The first is from the women at Dolly Mix a British feminist pop culture site and the second is from male film writers at the Boston Globe.

"Where are the lead women in the summer movie line-up?" and "A surprisingly strong summer for women"

Here's what the guys at the Globe think:

Every year around this time we hear the complaints: There aren't enough good parts for women, actresses are relegated to decorative supporting roles, the movies have become a man's world. We beg to differ, at least for the moment.
Here's what Dolly Mix had to say:
Did you want to see a movie with a female lead this summer? Well, too bad. I was looking at my movie listings trying to find something to see last night and I was struck by the lack of female leads in the summer blockbusters. Struck, but not surprised.
Granted, the Globe guys are looking beyond the big box office movies. But come on, maybe men really are from Mars and women from Venus.

It just cracks me up.
Where are the lead women in the summer movie line-up? (Dolly Mix)
A surprisingly strong summer for women (Boston Globe)

July 9, 2008

Interview with Donna Deitch, Director of Desert Hearts

Donna Deitch will be presented with a career achievement award tonight in LA at Outfest which has nurtured and featured gay, lesbian and transgendered images and films for 25 years. Deitch has had an illustrious career as a director but is best known for adapting and directing the seminal lesbian film Desert Hearts.

She answered some questions for Women & Hollywood about her career and issues related to women directors in Hollywood.

Women & Hollywood: What does this award mean to you?

Donna Deitch: I have a huge regard for Outfest and their Legacy Project. The Legacy Project preserves and archives gay, lesbian, transgendered and bisexual film and they also preserve and restore films that are in disrepair. This year they restored Word is Out and last year they restored Parting Glances. These films have not been able to be viewed in their original and glorious presentation. Each year they choose another film and restore it as well as reaching out to filmmakers all over the world to archive their films for posterity and for research.
W&H: Let's talk about Desert Hearts. Many people feel it is a seminal film that defines lesbian films that came after.
DD: I don't think it defines anything but itself. I don't think that one film can define anything. I think that one of the boundaries that Desert Hearts pushed was the crossover into the mainstream audiences. I wanted it to cross over. I didn't want it just to be viewed by gay and lesbian audiences. Part of the reason that I chose a very archetypal approach to a love story is that I wanted people to have a knee jerk reaction into rooting for these two to get together which is what you want in a love story. You want an emotional investment in the love story and to root for the two characters to get together.
W&H: Your film was unique in its time because you raised the million dollars to make it through parties and events.
DD: I structured my fundraising like a Broadway backers party. When I began I didn't know anyone who had any money to invest. So I reached out to all of my friends and contacts all over the country and wrote letters. This was a networking process that went on month after month and then year after year. It took 2 and half years. It began in NY. The first thing I did was talk to Gloria Steinem and she asked me if I made any other films and I had a made a documentary Women to Women about hookers, housewives and other mothers, and I showed it to the women at Ms. Magazine. At the end Gloria asked how she could help and I said she could put her name on an invitation that will be sent all across the country.
W&H: Did you approach Jane Rule (author of the book that Desert Hearts is based on)?
DD: A friend has given me the book and I wrote to Jane.

Here are some excerpts from Deitch's letter to Rule and Rule's response (the letters are from 1977):

"My interest in making films about women is not for the consumption of the women's community exclusively, but rather for all women and ferless men too...My objective in making a film about lesbians is not that we are the best of all possible women, but that we are real, sympathetic, beautiful, intelligent human beings capable of good and bad and acheiving a balance between the two."

Response from Jane Rule: "I have been leery of what a film maker might do with such a book, and finally a couple of years ago I told my agent not to encourage offers because I simply didn't want to deal with the commercial pressure of people wanting to cash in on the women's movement in blue movie style. Your letter seems to me an unexpected reward for my stubbornness.

My concern would never be a 'faithful' presentation of the book, which is, as a book, complete in and as itself. The only point of a film would be a new imagining forth of the central energies of the book, that is a new work which is yours, not mine. My refusal to share those energies with people in the past has been my conviction that none of them were either capable or interested, you are obviously both."
W&H: When you first read Desert Hearts did you know you wanted to make it into a film?
DD: I knew instantly but then I read it seven times in a row. I was in Mexico at the time and read it and read it and read it. I wanted to make a lesbian love story to begin with. It wasn't as though I was searching for a book from which I could then adapt. It was coincidental that my friend had given me this book.
W&H: You wanted to make a lesbian love story because?
DD: It was missing for me. I wanted to make a film that was a love story between two women that did not end with a suicide, a murder or a bisexual triangle. And that hadn't happened.
W&H: Then you segued into TV directing for a number of years.
DD: That was after Oprah Winfrey hired my to do the miniseries The Women of Brewster Place. That launched me into TV directing world which was a big surprise to me. I didn't even know it was out there.
W&H: Can you talk about the differences between directing features and directing TV.
DD: There is a difference between directing for hire and directing as an independent filmmaker. There is an artistic and power difference between directing for hire and directing your own work. Directing episodic TV is a form of directing that doesn't exist in any other form of film or tv. That's because in one hour dramas every 8 days there is a new director. You have 7 days of prep and 8 days of shooting and while you are prepping the other person is shooting. It's a machine, and that machine is owned, operated and driven by the executive producer and that person is 99% of the time is the writer and creator of the show. It is their vision, and you are there to execute their vision and the stronger and better the show is, the stronger and better is the vision.
W&H: Why are there still so few women directors working in Hollywood and why does it seem to be getting worse and not better?
DD: It's not that people are unwilling to talk about it. They are constantly having these meetings. We need to get to the bottom of this and understand it because if we can't understand it entirely then we can't get past it Understanding it is the first step. Is it just a simple as that women are still second class citizens and that as second class citizens we don't get to be directors and presidents?
W&H: Why can women be successful as producers?
DD: Because producers don't really run the show. Producers are not executors of a vision.
W&H: You are also working on a film called Blonde Ghost.
DD: It is is screenplay that I wrote and it is the story of the most infamous catcher (a Jew who goes out and finds other Jews living underground and turns them over to the Gestapo) in Berlin during World War 2. This young, beautiful woman Stella was hiding underground and she was caught and tortured. She then escaped and was caught again and they made her an offer she could not refuse. This is a story of choice and addresses one of the huge questions -- what would you do to survive?
W&H: You've also been working on the Desert Hearts sequel.
DD: I don't want to say too much because I am writing it. It's unconventional as a sequel. It is not the follow-up to the two characters and their next steps. Its about the world of "Desert Hearts" and it's going to take on many more characters. It will be set in NYC in the late 60s. The two characters will be in it. The screenplay will hopefully be done by the end of the summer.

My other project is coming from my partner Terri Jentz' book Strange Piece of Paradise. Terri is working on the screenplay right now. It's a true crime memoir and it will also be finished at the end of the summer.
W&H: You just got back from a trip to Zambia. What were you doing there?

DD: I was there with Equality Now and Gloria Steinem and we attended a female sex trafficking conference. Equality Now works to help pass laws that protect women and girls with the idea that if you have laws you can enforce them. It was one of the most extraordinary and illuminating experiences of my life.

One From the Heart: Outfest Achievement Award Winner Donna Deitch LA Weekly

July 8, 2008

Interview with Kimberly Peirce, Director of Stop-Loss

Sometimes films have the power to make change in the culture. That seems to be the case with Kimberly Peirce's film Stop-Loss about a soldier who returns from his time in Iraq hoping to be discharged having done his time, only to find out he is being sent back against his wishes. It is a powerful drama about the human consequences of war that so often get missed. Here is my review: Stop-Loss.

Since the release of the film Peirce has spent many months traveling the country, showing the film to raise attention about this issue. Her recent appearance at the National Press Club provoked national press coverage about this policy that is unknown to most of the country. Women & Hollywood spoke with Peirce about the cultural impact of her film.

Women & Hollywood: How do you believe movies can effect change in our culture?

Kimberly Peirce: Movies can be an incredibly powerful art form. The medium itself is powerful because you are creating a whole world and engaging people in a story. The way we release movies is powerful -- we create events and people go to see them in a theatre with others and talk about it. The way we do the advertising is also powerful. The medium itself and the way it is communicated to the culture has profound ways of engaging people and therefore effecting change.
W&H: You could have released this film and then moved on to your next project, but it seems you have become a spokesperson for this issue. Why?
KP: It's very interesting because it is similar to what happened on Boys Don't Cry. It's not so much that I start with the issue, I start with a character. My little brother fought in Iraq and it profoundly effected my entire family. My mother, sister and I were dealing with the fear you have when one of your loved ones is in combat. I was thinking about how it would change him. I went around the country and interviewed soldiers and their families and saw what they were going through. I have been showing the film to people -- soldiers and non soldiers-- and they are being moved and are saying to me "oh my god this has to be stopped," or "I didn't know about this thank you for teaching it to me." So in a way the movie is just a continuation of a basic curiosity and a need to communicate.
W&H: So you've created a cultural conversation about this issue?
KP: Yeah- it's really exciting. We have over 1,000 comments on the sound off website. I am very much a believer in telling a story honestly, emotionally and believably. People are saying thanks for making a movie we can relate to.
W&H: Most of the films about Iraq have struggled at the box office. Do you think there is a disconnect between the war and the country?
KP: I don't believe there is a full disconnect. I believe that in some ways these movies were not marketed correctly. If you had marketed them correctly they would be bringing in more people. When I took my movie around to 24 cities I had packed screenings and 90% of the audiences stayed for the q and a. Soldiers stood up and told their stories. They loved being emotionally moved. I believe that America does want stories that move them.
I've also heard criticism that there is Iraq war fatigue. I don't buy it at all. If you tell them the movie is going to be non-stop warfare they're not going to go, it's too threatening. But when you deliver a movie about people coming home and human emotions, they'll go and they'll love it. There is an appetite for that. I think that the reporting on Iraq and not making the stories personal has numbed the audience out.
Also, we put a certain expectations on the films that are not the broad comedies or the big commercial movies and I don't think they should be competing (with each other). I do think there is a vast audience for entertaining, engaging human stories but that audience should not be compared to the audience that is going to the broad comedies. When you release them at the same time and there's a competition as to who is number one at the box office, it's really kind of missing the point. They are not the same thing. They have totally different functions and I feel really passionately about that because what ends up happening is that the films get a bad rap and I think that it's much more complex than how people are explaining it.
W&H: So is there a general problem in marketing smaller dramas?
KP: Most of the time the public is not thinking about how many theatres a movie is in, what the per screen average is and they shouldn't be. But somehow this obsession with the box office is unfortunately skewing things.
W&H: How do movies that are a little different get seen in this box office obsessed world?
KP: I think they need a little more time meaning trying to open big quickly certainly works for high concepts and for big movie star movies. But we've seen over and over and over the movies that tell a story can do fantastic in the marketplace but they take a little more time to find their audience and to grow. When we were in the theatres we were finding an audience and were growing but there was this race against time simply because of the nature of the release pattern. I found that when I connected with my audience they loved it and just needed a little bit more time. Once the reviews came out and people understood how moving it was then it resonated. Subsequent to the opening weekend our audience started to emerge.
W&H: Talk about the status of women directors in the business.
KP: I wish that the numbers were higher for women directors. I think that women have found that they are getting the farthest in creating their personal visions when they are writing their own material. I co-wrote this film on spec. I interviewed soldiers and put together the material and images cut to rock music. When I gave it to the studio there wasn't that question about whether a woman could do this it. I managed to cut through all those questions by writing it on spec. My next movie will be a romantic comedy inspired by outrageous and hilarious stories. I think making genre movies is fantastic. I want to make wildly commercial movies that appeal to audiences so I see no limitations for a man or a woman. You just need to be a disciplined and great artist. We are in the entertainment business we gotta make them laugh and cry.
Stop-Loss is out on DVD today.
More info: Stop-Loss

Backlash Everywhere

Two important pieces on the regression of rights and the consistent backlash of feminism need to be read. What's going on, or has it been going on for so long and gotten so bad that we are all finally noticing?

It started with Katha Pollitt's May piece in The Nation Backlash Spectacular excoriating Washington University for giving Phyllis Schlafly (I thought I would never write this woman's name on my site) an honorary degree and then was followed up by The Guardian's Kira Cochrane's piece Now, the Backlash last week.

Here's some of the pop culture references from the pieces

Pollitt: There are more powerful female Hollywood executives than ever, but as Manohla Dargis pointed out in a splendid rant (her word) in the New York Times, the movies are relentlessly male-focused: the conventional Hollywood wisdom is "Women can't direct. Women can't open movies. Women are a niche." Culturally, there's misogyny wherever you look: Grand Theft Auto IV, which offers players the opportunity to have sex with prostitutes and kill them, got rave reviews and is expected to have $500 million in sales its first week out.
Cochrane: That intense scrutiny of women's bodies is one trend in pop culture. Another related one is the current obsession with women as mothers, a trend being played out all over our cinema screens - in films including Juno, Knocked Up, Baby Mama, Happy Endings, Waitress and Smart People. It's also being played out in the gossip magazines. In the past few years we have seen Jennifer Lopez paid a reported $6m (£3m) for exclusive pictures of her with her twin babies; Angelina Jolie is expected to clear $10m if she agrees to pose with the twins she will give birth to later this year.

The message that these images strike home is that women's worth is directly tied to childbearing, the constant images of mothers are a siren call for women to get back into the home, and yet we're also seeing more and more blame put on mothers.

The other big gossip-magazine trend is for women to be depicted as "mad". Over the past few years we've seen a massive media obsession with women who are considered to be out of control - Britney Spears, Amy Winehouse, Lindsay Lohan and, to a lesser extent, Paris Hilton - and it's hard to avoid the sense that people want to watch these women's story arcs reach the same conclusion as that of their predecessor, the former Playboy model Anna Nicole Smith, who died of an overdose last year.
It shouldn't surprise anyone that the is a consistent and persistent backlash. We need to keep fighting and not get complacent about anything.

July 7, 2008

Women Directors Meet and Organize

Any regular reader of this blog know that lamentable pathetic statistics of women directors in Hollywood. The women directors have been trying to organize for years to get same movement in these numbers. Now that the numbers are continuing to go backwards, I think they're really pissed and are organizing again. Veteran TV director Rachel Feldman held a meeting in her home last week and submitted this report.

On July 2, 10 women met at the home of Rachel Feldman, DGA director and WGA writer, to discuss changing the world for woman in media in several different ways. Undaunted by 30 years of things only getting worse for women behind the camera in Hollywood and the issues that their employment disparity breeds, these ten women from a variety of perspectives; academic, creative and non-profit, put their heads together. Crystal Allene Cook who runs the the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media suggested examining the similarities between our issues and connecting our struggles under an umbrella alliance. Actress and activist Susan Davis, spoke about her documentary “Invisible Women” - which highlights the age discrimination issue for actresses. Lindsay Horvath from NOW would like to put some muscle behind our issues and help to create a media event making our struggles loud and clear to the industry and to world, who don't yet seem to hear, care or want to understand the relevance of our issues.

We represent 53% of the population and 65% of the financial resources in the US. By 2010, women between the ages of 40-60 will be the largest demographic in America. We are tired of being underrepresented, misrepresented and discriminated against. Our goal is to flood mainstream media with our brilliance and do nothing less than change the society we live in. Soon, we will figure out our next step.
Stay tuned.

Hollywood Feminist of the Day: Charlize Theron

Charlize co-stars in the mega hit Hancock and she said a bunch of interesting things in recent interviews.

On women in film: 'People just aren't willing to see conflict, or ugliness or the more flawed side of life through a female character's eyes. I mean, can you imagine a woman playing Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver? When Robert De Niro does it, it's fine, [but] people are very uncomfortable about seeing that through a woman's eyes. We aren't allowed complexity.' (The Guardian)
On gay marriage: Everyone should have equal rights, especially when it comes to love. But it broke my heart that my friends couldn't do it. I have two girlfriends who are getting married today: I always felt like I wish I could give them my right to marry. And today they get to have that." (The Age)
'I like the way I look. I celebrate that. I don't make excuses for it' (The Guardian)
Standing tall (The Age)

Dara Torres - Pushing Boundaries

Couldn't resist this: At 41, Torres swam faster than any US woman ever in the 50 meter freestyle. The woman in second place was 20 years younger.

One reporter called her Hillary in the pool. Awesome.
After turning pool into fountain of youth, Torres set for Games (USA Today)