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Showing posts from September, 2011

Pratibha Parmar & Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth

Alice Walker’s life and work have inspired me, shown me that it’s possible to be a writer and a global citizen with love, spirit, courage and laughter. There’s The Color Purple and Steven Spielberg’s film adaptation, as well as the Broadway musical. And there’s so much more: poems, essays, short stories, novels like Possessing the Secret of Joy—about female genital mutilation—and her latest book, The Chicken Chronicles. So when I heard that Pratibha Parmar of Kali Films was making a documentary about Alice Walker, called Beauty in Truth, I was very excited. And, because this is Alice Walker here, and there's a huge audience ready and waiting for a film about her, I was very surprised to learn that Kali Films needs funds to complete the project (like Arwen Curry with her doco The Worlds of Ursula Le Guin, though she has recently received some grants).

Pratibha Parmar is a multi-award-winning filmmaker with a family heritage of protest. She has lived and worked on four continents:…

Flowers for the New Zealand Film Commission: Fresh Shorts 2011

I love working with Kyna Morgan of Her Film. And from over there in North America, she keeps me in line, often through Twitter. Today, she tweeted about the New Zealand Film Commission’s (NZFC) Fresh Shorts decisions. Fresh Shorts is the NZFC's new low budget short film scheme, run in-house. It aims to identify the next generation of New Zealand feature filmmakers by nurturing and inspiring up-and-coming talent and it has just funded eight films at the $10,000 funding level and eight at $30,000 each. Kyna had been reading OnFilm online and found the NZFC press release. Here's what she wrote:

@devt ur staying up on this, yeah? Looks like gender parity reached for funding. NZFC has no gender mandate, does it? bit.ly/oCRRWT @HerFilm Actually, I've kinda abandoned it, almost totally fruitless effort-- What's your take on this list? [I was cranky, because I HAD given up, and my mind was elsewhere.]
Kyna didn’t respond. So—of course—I took a look. And she’d done the maths a…

Why Is It Still So Bad? And What Could We Do About It?

I.

Last Saturday, film writer Thelma Adams moderated the annual Amazing Women in Film Panel at the Woodstock Film Festival, with three women directors – Debra Granik (Winter’s Bone), Susan Seidelman (best known for Desperately Seeking Susan) and Nancy Savoca (her latest, Union Square just at Toronto), critic Lisa Rosman, philanthropist Meera Gandhi, and activist Robin Bronk.

Before the panel, Thelma blogged about questions FB and industry friends had raised. And when I read the post and saw ‘B. Ruby Rich’ I was hooked; she’s my hero, a long-time writer about women and feminism and film, and staunch activist — her book Chick Flicks is a classic. Furthermore, many of the questions offered to Thelma are relevant to Kali Films' Indiegogo campaign for funds to complete Pratibha Parmar's feature documentary on Alice Walker, Beauty in Truth. My next post is an interview with Pratibha, and somehow Thelma's post feels like a good introduction. So here it is, with a couple of wee…

Zarcquona's story, read by Meryl Streep

In a moving performance, Meryl Streep reads the words of  “ordinary, extraordinary” Afghan woman Zarcquona. This is the best 14 minutes and 51 seconds I've spent this year. I cried. I cheered. I am inspired. And loved the way Meryl Streep contextualised her reading.



Meryl Streep's reading was part of the launch of the Women in the World Foundation, a movement dedicated to advancing women and girls through stories and solutions. I hope that the Women in the World Foundation will link to and support women who tell stories on screens large and small, who are working hard to tell stories by, about, and for women. This morning, I'm thinking about Afia Nathaniel's Neither the Veil Nor the Four Walls, which addresses one aspect of Zarcquona's story, expressed in another woman's life. I'm thinking about Pratibha Parmar's Beauty in Truth, about Alice Walker.

Andrea Arnold and Wuthering Heights at Venice

Andrea Arnold's one of my favorite filmmakers. One of the most exciting women writer/directors in the world, I think, for all kinds of reasons. Remember Wasp (2003) which won the Academy Award for Live Action Short 2005 and was described by the Guardian as 'social realist film poetry'? Red Road (2006), which won the Prix du Jury at Cannes, and many other awards? Fish Tank (2009) which won multiple awards including the BAFTA for Outstanding British Film last year?

Andrea Arnold's Wuthering Heights has just premiered at the Venice Film Festival. According to the Guardian, Wuthering Heights is
...stripped of its period frills and sweeping score. It comes caked in grime and damp with saliva. The script is salted with profanities, while the plot finds room for brief moments of a nudity and an animalistic al-fresco sex scene. Heathcliff, the Byronic forefather of English romantic fiction, is black.And the first reviews, in a nice roundup here on Shadow and Act, show that the f…