Sunday, 30 November 2014

Women in Film Blogathon Part II: The Director's Chair


Last June I decided to run the Women in Film Blogathon and it turned out to be a remarkable success. I received ten different submissions (not including my own) spanning a wide variety of different female characters across different genres. I was already running the astonishingly successful Favorite Movie Scenes Blogathon but this one just exploded with popularity. It quickly became one of my most popular posts and even became the first to surpass the infamously controversial Why Do People Like James Bond? as the most viewed post on my blog. Even four months after it ended, it still holds the #3 spot (and that's a very recent development). Not a bad accomplishment at all.

So naturally some sort of follow-up seemed to be in order. I quickly got thinking about starting another round next year, but we got quite the selection of strong female characters in the last one. With these blogathons it's often great to find new angles to take in order to keep people interested, and I've already done a piece on strong female characters. Therefore, I've decided that for the sequel to my most successful blogathon, I'm going to shift the focus a little bit. While the first one focused on how women were represented in the movies, this time we're going to move behind the scenes and look at the women who make those films happen. More specifically, we'll be looking at female directors.

It's no secret that directing has long been a male-dominated profession. It was not until 2009, in a medium that has existed for over a century, that Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to win the Oscar for Best Picture and Best Director. A large portion of my favorite directors are men. When I started the Ten Most Influential Directors of All Time relay I tried to diversify the list as much as I could but only got one woman (Kathryn Bigelow) in there and she was also the first one to go, meaning every subsequent list was entirely male.

Female directors are hard to come by, and they are greatly outnumbered by men. It's hard to deny that unfortunate truth. However, while statistically they may be outnumbered by men, women have directed movies since the beginning of film. So far as I'm aware the first female director was a French woman named Alice Guy-Blaché, who made 430 movies between 1896 and 1920. That means she was working about the same time as pioneers like Georges Méliès, Edwin S. Porter, and even D.W. Griffith, almost from its very birth.

Now they have become more common over the years with changes in society. You'll certainly have an easier time finding a female director today than you would during the Studio Era, but even so they are still something of a rarity, at least when compared to the number of men in the business. It is hard for them to really stand out, so for this blogathon we will be looking at those who do.

Much as the first Woman in Film Blogathon was intended to draw attention towards strong female characters, this sequel aims to highlight the great female directors who throughout history have played a crucial role in the development of film as an art form. Your task in this blogathon is quite simply to create a profile of a female director of your choosing and to explain why you think they are a great example of women in filmmaking.

Naturally, I think it's important we set down some rules:
  1. Only one director per post. However, if you wish you can do multiple submissions covering different directors.
  2. Try not to focus too much on one particular film by your chosen director. For instance if you're writing about Kathryn Bigelow please don't just send me a review of The Hurt Locker. You don't have to go through their entire filmography but you should discuss enough of their movies to demonstrate an understanding of their style.
  3. You can pick a director from any time period or any country you wish.
  4. Include the above banner in your entry.
To help give you some ideas, I have compiled a list of some names I have managed to find, both from my own experiences and through Google searches. This is hardly a complete list, but it should serve as a reasonable starting point.
  • Gillian Armstrong
  • Andrea Arnold
  • Alice Guy-Blaché
  • Kathryn Bigelow
  • Jane Campion
  • Sofia Coppola
  • Julie Delpy
  • Claire Denis
  • Maya Deren
  • Nora Ephron
  • Jodie Foster
  • Mary Harron
  • Amy Heckerling
  • Angelina Jolie
  • Karyn Kusama
  • Ida Lupino
  • Jennifer Chambers Lynch*
  • Lucrecia Martel
  • Mira Nir
  • Kimberly Pierce
  • Sarah Polley
  • Sally Potter
  • Leni Reifenstahl**
  • Lone Sherfig
  • Julie Taymor
  • Agnès Varda

*Yes, she is in fact the daughter of David Lynch, a man you should be very familiar with if you've been following my blog.
** Yes, I am aware she had connections to the Nazis and directed one of their most infamous propaganda films but she still left a major impact on other filmmakers. I'm also not 100% certain if she made said infamous propaganda film because she legitimately supported the Nazis' intentions or if it was simply because she was paid to and/or didn't want to get into trouble with the Gestapo or S.S. (hardly an unreasonable desire for the time period) Maybe if you want to write about her you could shed a bit more light on the subject.

Once you've posted your entry, there are a few ways you can submit it. The simplest would be to post a link in the comments, but you can also send it to me by twitter or by e-mail if you so choose. Once I have your submission I'll post it below for everyone to see. If you have any further questions you can post them in the comments and I will do my best to help you.

In the event that you would like to join but are having trouble finding a suitable entry, you can drop me an e-mail using the contact form on the side, and I will do my best to help you. I can't make any promises. Heck, I can't even really claim to be an expert in this field myself, but I'll do whatever I can and hopefully we'll work something out. If nothing else, perhaps I could redirect you to one of my other blogathons and help you find something to contribute for one of those instead. One good thing about hosting multiple blogathons at once is after all that different people may be attracted to different ideas.

For this blogathon I've decided to place the deadline for December 31. Hopefully that will give anyone interested a month to put your articles together. I don't think I've ever seen a blogathon quite like this one before. I've seen director-centric blogathons where contributors are asked to review a specific film by a famous director like Steven Spielberg or John Ford, but not ones where you were asked to write about a specific director, so it should be interesting to see the results.

Submissions

Dell on Movies: Kasi Lemmons

Big Screen Small Worlds: Nicole Holofcener

Hitchcock's World: Kathryn Bigelow

7 comments:

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    1. I had a feeling you'd like it. I know this is a little early but I wanted to make sure people saw it before the second one goes up at 1:00 A.M. tonight.

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    2. Posted mine!

      http://dellonmovies.blogspot.com/2014/12/women-in-film-blogathon-part-ii-kasi.html

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    1. Great, I'm sure it will be interesting to see what you come up with.

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  3. I hope someone picks Leni as she is controversial. You missed Dorothy Arzner or am I just lazy in my eyes?:) This should be a great event but, although i love film and write little comments (as i call them) on my blog from time to time, I don't consider myself a major critic and I feel intimidated from the wonderful ways everyone can write about film.

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    1. It would certainly be interesting to see someone write about Leni due to the controversy. I can't take a side one or or another since I haven't really seen her work and really only know her by name. The big question I guess is how strongly affiliated she really was with the Nazis. I mean, did she just make Triumph of the Will for the money/desire to stay out of trouble or did she legitimately support their intentions? I have no idea.

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