Tag Archives: Female Directors

Ava DuVernay Is Bouncing Back With A New Project

ava-duvernay-david-oyelowo-selma

You can throw all the backlash and award snubs her way, but it clearly won’t hold Ava DuVernay down. She has successfully mounted her next project, an as-yet-untitled drama/thriller set in post-Katrina New Orleans.

There are so many great things about this news. First, DuVernay, like countless female directors before her, didn’t have to wait a few years and knock on a few doors before locking her next project. She’s risen from disappointing news to shift her focus on a new film, which is being funded by Participant Media, the distributors of her 2012 Sundance prizewinner Middle of Nowhere.

Also,this is also her third time working with actor David Oyelowo,for all we know these two are headed for a Tarantino/Jackson,Burton/Depp,Scorsese/De Niro(or DiCaprio) kind of long working relationship. Oyelowo is even helping co-produce the project.

And very importantly, this film will deal with the Katrina aftermath from a Black perspective. Instead of the typical ‘Stranger-In-A-Strange-Land’ narrative that would have planted a wealthy White male into the doldrums of destruction among secondary Black characters, the film’s POV will be of the race that bore the biggest brunt of devastation and indifference.

It’s great that DuVernay is getting to pick her projects and do them in quick succession. It’s also great that she’s sticking to these lower-key character-based dramas rather than the proposed bigger-budget alternative. Looking forward to this film already!

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A Great Piece On Cherien Dabis and Arab-American Representation

Cherien

Writer/Director/Actor Cherien Dabis (Amreeka, May In The Summer) is one of only a handful of voices that tell stories of the Arab/Arab-American experience in a way unforeseen. Her characters are people, not caricatures,not bigoted depictions. Good‘s Tasbeeh Herwees did this lovely profile on Dabis that talks about her films, her life, and her search to find self-reflection in a hostile climate of on-screen representation (American Sniper REALLY doesn’t help).

Read it here: http://magazine.good.is/features/cherien-dabis-arab-americans-in-hollywood

From The Hollywood Reporter- “What Happens to All These Women After They Direct Their First Film?”

Emmy and Oscar nominated director Leslie Linka Glatter wrote this piece in THR describing the double standards most female directors face even today, irrespective of talent. A good read.

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/homeland-director-what-happens-all-754654

Marvel and DC Both Parade Their Female Superheroes. But Which One Will Hire A Female Director First?

MARVEL VS DC

Marvel vs DC is fast becoming the Apple vs Android of the entertainment industry. You know what that means, it’s not consumer interest at heart, but the need to outdo the other using consumers as pawns. Sounds like a world domination plan straight out of a comic book, huh?

Marvel just broke the internet twice in less than a week. First when they released a first look at Avengers: Age of Ultron, and then yesterday when they publicly announced Phase 3, which is their slate of upcoming films going all the way till 2019. As predicted, the list includes some sequels and threequels, but what really grabbed attention were the new franchises, including Black Panther and Captain Marvel, their first Black and female superheroes to get their own movies.

Marvel Phase 3

Coolbeans! Looks like Marvel is getting on with the times, BUT WAIT A MINUTE.

Just two weeks ago, DC announced THEIR upcoming slate which includes, well, their first Black and female superheroes to get their own movies: Cyborg and Wonder Woman. Moreover, the film version of The Flash will be played by openly gay actor Ezra Miller (meanwhile the TV series version has the out Wentworth Miller playing Captain Cold and Andy Mientus will soon play Pied Piper, a rare openly gay villain).

Congratulations, finally some diverse representation, but is this really a move to be progressive or yet another ridiculous arms race?

What about diversity behind the camera? To be fair, Ang Lee and Tim Story did do Marvel projects but neither one’s attempt was well received. Now both conglomerates are ready to showcase female heroes front-and-center but neither has ever hired a female director, and that’s a problem. It came close once, remember the Patty Jenkins snafu?. DC apparently wants a woman to helm Wonder Woman and Jenkins’ name is being circled again. Not for the Emmy-nominee’s talent but for the obvious reason that it would be a slap on Marvel’s face.

Why not have a female action hero’s story be told through a female perspective? That’s not to say men wouldn’t do a good job but previous examples don’t show much hope. No matter what, the male gaze does tend to get in the way. Remember how the camera kept lingering on Gamora’s butt in Guardians of the Galaxy? Remember THAT kiss in Elektra? Remember Halle Berry’s dominatrix costume in Catwoman and wondering how she doesn’t get cut and bruised all over? Remember Lara Croft: Tomb Raider at all? They’re not just badasses, they’re SEXY badasses, appeasing the depraved young male crowd is still paramount. Compare that with Rachel Talalay’s Tank Girl. Say what you want about it, but it did have empowering overtones ahead of its time.

Good thing Joss Whedon is a proud feminist or Black Widow would not have even made it to the Avengers universe (Where is HER standalone movie by the way?). Even Whedon’s co-created offshoot series Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D features a team where the female members strongly hold their own alongside the men. The dude knows how to make strong women without referencing their sexuality at all and kudos to him, but the other guys just aren’t like him for some reason.

And it’s not just the female-centric action flicks, why can’t women direct any of the other heroes either? A majority of the films on both slates still don’t have directors, it wouldn’t hurt to consider female names. Catherine Hardwicke, Karyn Kusama, Lesli Linka Glatter, or Susanna White would all make suitable candidates who can work well with action and bring their own unique flair.

Unexpected hires have been successful for Marvel. Kenneth Branagh for Thor, Joe & Anthony Russo for Captain America: The Winter Soldier or Shane Black for Iron Man 3 were all left field choices that paid off. Hiring a woman is not nearly as big of a gamble, so why not?

Olive Kitteridge: Can We Give Lisa Cholodenko An Award Already???

Olive Kitteridge

If you’re anything like me, you were disappointed when Lisa Cholodenko’s was snubbed out of a Directing Oscar nomination for The Kids Are All Right in 2011 (In the same year, Debra Granik was shut out for Winter’s Bone and that upset me equally)The film did land Best Picture and Original Screenplay nods, as well as recognition for its stars, but Cholodenko was so crucial to the film being made the way it was, it just didn’t feel right to silence her auteur-like voice.

Not to make anyone an unnecessary villain, but on the other hand, there’s this cultish admiration for David Fincher. I never got The Social Network, nor did I get the praise heaped upon it. He got nominated but neither Cholodenko nor Granik got that honor. It will most likely happen again this awards season when he becomes a shoo-in for Gone Girl but Ava DuVernay will be a long shot for Selma despite the rave reviews. It’s equally noteworthy that post Kathryn Bigelow’s 2010 win for The Hurt Locker, no woman has been nominated, not even Bigelow again for the acclaimed Zero Dark Thirty.

Cut to today. A significant change in the TV landscape has been the revival of the miniseries(or ‘limited series’ or ‘event series’ based on what works for your brand). The Emmys went back to splitting the miniseries and TV movie categories this year, simply because the number of such programming is increasing vastly. Whether it’s based on the success of similar British formats or the anthology nature of American Horror Story, people are finding themselves invested in smaller episodic runs.

The tide is high, and riding the wave soon will be Olive Kitteridge, an adaptation of Elizabeth Strout’s Pulitzer-winning novel. Much like Top Of The Lake and Fargo, it’s set in a mellow coastal town with interconnected stories. Starring Frances McDormand, Richard Jenkins, John Gallagher Jr., Rosemarie DeWitt, Zoe Kazan,and Bill Murray, it premieres this November on HBO. Helmed by? None other than Lisa Cholodenko herself. It’s her first major attempt since Kids and based on the previews and hype, it’s set to be a great viewing experience.

Given what happened this year, the Emmys have their own wrongs to right, a dubious voting system that seems – arguably- broken. As a result, an oligopoly of winners just keeps on winning. The miniseries category is luckily immune to this disadvantage. I for one can’t wait for Olive Kitteridge, it will air in four parts over the span of two weeks. HBO struck miniseries gold with Angels In America and John Adams, this could be headed in the same direction.