Female Filmmakers Take Over the Big Screen at DIFF 2016
by Alex Garcia Topete
DIFF 2016 has many qualities: diversity of countries and nationalities, diversity of voices, diversity of genres, and one that may not be apparent enough, so we might as well write about it—a great and ample selection of female filmmakers proving that women-driven films, long and short, are neither “too niche” nor the unicorns of cinema.
For instance, women are the creative force behind a range of short films that start with animation with as Alexa Lim Haas’s GLOVE, Nina Gantz’s EDMOND, and Kelsey Goldich’s TRASH CAT; takes a turn for the historical with Isabella Wing-Davey’s THE RAIN COLLECTOR in Victorian England and Samantha Buck’s THE MINK COLLECTOR in 1980s Dallas; comes back to the contemporary with Margaret Brown’s THE BLACK BELT about Alabama’s voting rights, Elizabeth Lo’s BISONHEAD about Ponderai Native Americans at Yellowstone, and Iva Radivojevic’s NOTES FROM THE BORDER about the refugee crisis in Europe and the Middle East; delves into the complexities of human emotion with Tati Barrantes’s VINCENT with the mourning of a beloved pet, Amelie Wen’s FATA MORGANA with the funeral arrangements of a departed child, and Maïmouna Doucouré’s MAMAN(S) with the dilemma of getting rid of a second mother; then explores the human condition itself through Amy Nicholson’s PICKLE and its goldfish life, Katie Featherston’s BECOMING and the existential questions about independence and commitment, and Ivete Lucas’s THE SEND OFF and the ritualistic nature of prom night; and finally takes a turn for both the darker and lighter with Augustine Frizzell’s MINOR SETBACK about scheming teens, Zia Anger’s MY LAST FILM focusing on two actresses, Eva Vives’s JOIN THE CLUB feature a troubled writer, and Hannah Pearl Utt’s EAT PREY depicting a bachelorette party gone awry.
On the feature-length side, female filmmakers show the dimension of their prowess as auteurs, including A TALE OF LOVE AND DARKNESS, a historical adaptation about the establishment of Israel with Natalie Portman at the helm and on the screen, Elizabeth Wood’s WHITE GIRL and its stark and shocking look at the dangers of making life-shattering mistakes as a teenager, and LATE BLOOMERS, a story about identity and acceptance in spite of societal standards from experienced eye of Julia Dyer. Other narratives include Maris Curran’s FIVE NIGHTS IN MAINE, a tense chamber drama that meditates on death and the various ways we experience mourning, Alice WInocour’s DISORDER about a soldier battling PSTD and Claire Carré’s apocalyptic narrative, EMBERS.
There are also a wide array of documentaries including several co-directed by female filmmakers like Jessica Dimmock’s THE PEARL, a story that examines the lives of four transgender veterans; and the behind-the-scenes political drama WEINER, co-directed by Elyse Steinberg. Other docs directed by women include Cassie Hay’s THE LIBERATORS, which examines the case of a collection of medieval artifacts that went missing in Germany at the end of World War II, as well as two music docs showcasing talented female voices on the music scene, MISS SHARON JONES and PRESENTING PRINCESS SHAW.
Ultimately, DIFF 2016’s line up can be considered evidence that it may be time to recognize and promote that women deservedly belong (and always have belonged) behind the camera calling the shots (literally) as much as women they have been icons on the silver screen.
DALLAS STAR AWARDOscar-nominated cinematographer Ed Lachman’s selected credits as a cinematographer include the Emmy nominated HBO mini-series Mildred Pierce and films including DESPERATELY SEEKING SUSAN, THE VIRGIN SUICIDES, and the Academy Award nominated film, CAROL.
DALLAS MAVERICK AWARDOur inaugural honoree, director, editor and producer Monte Hellman, has a career that spans six decades. He has exemplified cutting-edge filmmaking across multiple genres, working with budgets, from high-to-low, and with casts featuring stars to complete unknowns.