Film Fatales: Independent Women Directors

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9781878067975: Film Fatales: Independent Women Directors
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Film Fatales offers a fascinating glimpse into the lives and work of women filmmakers. Profiled here are over thirty pioneering directors, producers, and distributors who have changed the face of contemporary film by delivering new and distinctly female images and sensibilities for the screen.

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Film Fatales comprises 33 interview-based profiles of women in independent film. Most of those included are directors, but there are also three distributors and a producer; more than half of the women are lesbians. Filmmaker Judith Redding and writer Victoria Brownworth (Too Queer: Essays from a Radical Life) are interested in showing how diverse women's filmmaking is. The book is divided into sections on documentary, narrative, and experimental film, and includes not only North Americans and Europeans but also a number of women from the filmmaking capital of the world: India. The type of work examined ranges from films with titles such as Superdyke and Women I Love by the goddess of experimental queer film, Barbara Hammer, to more mainstream movies such as Jane Campion's The Piano and Marleen Gorris's Antonia's Line. For those who prefer to view films from the comfort of their homes, the filmography at the back of the book has a handy listing of what's available on home video.

From Kirkus Reviews:

Believing ``the history of women in cinema has yet to truly be written,'' filmmaker Redding and Brownworth (Too Queer: Essays from a Radical Life, 1996) begin the task with 33 profiles of female filmmakers and moguls. They range from pioneers like Ida Lupino to popular feature directors like Jane Campion to art-house players like Su Friedrich; many of them discuss difficulties of the male- dominated industry. The reports of some are amusing, as when Alison Anders asks the studio to include her son's child-care providers in the credits for Grace of My Heart: ``I know you've never done this before, but you probably haven't had many single moms directing films for you, either.'' Others eschew the industry completely, such as experimental director Trinh T. Minh- ha. Most, like Donna Deitch, note the lack of ``equal access'' in the industry for women. Also discussed are feminism, the experiences of lesbians in film, and minority filmmaking. The profiles are earnest, often enlightening, sometimes whiny. But readers--especially film students and would-be filmmakers--should stick with it and think about the questions raised here about the nature of women's films. For example, a recurring theme of many films discussed is female identity, often rendered in terms of female sexuality. These films deal with self-definition (Donna Deitch's lesbian romance Desert Hearts), re-examination (Lizzie Borden's prostitute drama Working Girls), and cultural oppression (Pratibha Parmar's documentary Warrior Marks, about female genital mutilation). As opposed to male-directed films that define characters mainly through action, women are more concerned with exploring states of being. How do these aims affect the popularity of women's films? That the book provokes such thoughts is its best quality. -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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