Eliza Dushku, Ass-Kicking Producer

Eiza DushkuEliza Dushku has been in a lot of headlines lately thanks to Joss
Whedon's new Fox show Dollhouse.  But here's one headline that you may
have missed last week: Dushku is producing a new big screen biopic
about Robert Mapplethorpe
.

Dushku is already a producer.  Her Boston Diva Productions company is, in fact, co-producing Dollhouse.  (For those of you who are unsure about the trajectory of that show, Dushku implores you via an A.V. Club interview posted Friday to just...hang...on... until episode six, at which point she guarantees that the show gets awesome. But I digress.)

Now she's trying her hand at film production.  According to Variety, Dushku has lined up Ondi Timoner to direct the Mapplethorpe biopic, currently titled The Perfect Moment.  Timoner is an absolutely fantastic documentary filmmaker who has won the Sundance grand jury prize not once, but twice, for her documentary features DiG! and We Live in Public.  Timoner will make her  feature directorial debut.

Why do I think this is such ass-kicking good news?  Because Dushku is a young, motivated actress moving solidly into production who has just created a great opportunity for a young, dynamic woman filmmaker.  No doubt, this is an all-indie project, but it's going to be high profile enough to capture the attention of mainstream industry players - and perhaps some mainstream audiences, too.  

It's frustratingly easy to point to the many ways in which Hollywood is still an old boy's network (although those boys seem to be getting younger all the time), but when women like Dushku step into the production role and support other women filmmakers, we get a glimpse of what could be.  Are we starting to see a new girls network?  Maybe.  It's long overdue.

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Mapplethorpe and Female Filmmakers

I am extremely excited about this bio-pic about Robert Mapplethorpe. The artist is for me a prime representation of someone who pushed the boundaries of traditional Western assumptions of "high" and "low" art--fore-fronting questions such as what distinguishes the naked versus the nude, pornography versus classical nudity, or blatant homoeroticism versus Greek adoration of nude male bodies?

Secondly, the fact that Eliza Dushku is going to be the producer of the bio-pic is a great step forward for women in the film business, because women are continually being passed over for top-ranking jobs by mainstream studios in Hollywood. Although Dushku will be taking Hollywood 's possessive investment in male privilege head-on, it is not surprising that Dushku had to first make her way from TV to Hollywood. Traditionally, TV production has been a realm where women have been integral parts for many years; a precedent established by TV directing and producing greats like Ida Lupino and Dorothy Arzner in the 40's and 50's.