WEEK 1 – FEMALE DIRECTORS
Mon, May 2, 2016 at 8:47 PM
As I was mentioning in April it’s my intention to do a bit of writing about everything I’m reading / watching / writing to keep a written record of the mentorship in case I ever want to go back to reference any part of the program. I’m not sure whether it would be better to do a write up before or after we talk – this week I’m trying out before so I’m sorry if I repeat myself at all tomorrow.
This week we’re looking at female writer / directors – as a female writer director myself I have spent embarrassingly little time focusing on or researching other female directors. I have great respect for Miranda July and Sofia Coppola, both for their writing and their aesthetic sensibilities. Sarah Polley’s work has also really left an impression with me, and I have a vague memory of watching Deepa Mehta’s ‘Water’ as a teenager…the film inspired some very colourful daydreams. It’s not that I have never encountered female directors, or appreciated them – I’ve just never made a strong connection between them and myself, I’ve never thought much about what it means for me to belong to their tribe, or what it means to be a female writer / director. How are their films different from the films made by men or non binary directors? Is there a big difference? (extension of this conversation…is gender just a construct, etc.)
This leads me into my watching and reading content for this week. Laura Mulvey’s article ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’ looks at the idea of spectatorship, arguing that “the fundamentally patriarchal and imbalanced structure of classical Hollywood cinema inevitably privileges the male in terms of both narrative and spectatorship”. It is a world where, according to Mulvey, women are treated as erotic objects, men are the bearer of the look while women “occupy the role of passive spectacle.” In ‘It Felt Like Love’, Eliza Hittman departs from this model, creating a world in which the young men of Lila’s world become objects of her scopophilia. The camera adopts a feminine demeanor, focusing on Sammy’s muscular calves and tattoed arms, following Lila’s gaze. The film reminded me so much of Catherine Hardwicke’s ‘Thirteen’ as well as Andrea Arnold’s ‘Fishtank’ – following young vulnerable teenage girls through narrative offers such a rich emotional landscape to explore.
But I wonder still – is there anything beyond who the camera is sexually attracted to that defines films made by female writer / directors? Is it foolish of me to even ask such a generalized question? Are there any smaller details, or aesthetic frameworks that differentiate films made by women?
Still developing the script I sent you last week, and I’m looking back at the story now from the mindset of a director – will the camera be lingering on Yannick as an object of Harriet’s gaze, or will the camera prioritize Harriet as the object of Yannick’s long-standing crush? Too soon to be thinking about these questions I guess.
Just a few talking points for tomorrow. Looking forward to chatting, talk to you then!