Blogging as Ink-Stained Amazon on the Bitch blogs, Jennifer Stuller took on Barbarella, Lois Lane, and Tura Satana with her blog Grrl on Film. With her new book, Ink-Stained Amazons and Cinematic Warriors: Superwomen in Modern Mythology, released a few days ago, you can find even more on kick-ass women in popular culture. Read on for my interview with Jennifer about her new book, the cyclical nature of representation in pop culture, the women behind the superwomen, and future plans.
Kira Nerusskaya, director of the documentary Fat Girls Float, needs your help to finish its production! Nerusskaya, a New York City native, travelled through several countries and interviewed dozens of people about size discrimination, fat acceptance, activism, and their identity. Check out the six-minute trailer after the jump...
Portland's annual women-centered arts fest Siren Nation is back, from November 5-8! This three-day festival is packed with women musicians, filmmakers, artists, and craftsters. Siren Nation's mission is to showcase and support women in the arts--and inspire other women to make their own. This year's festival promises to be as great as ever! The film lineup alone is awesome: four documentaries on four strong women, including Ahead of the Majority on Patsy Mink, the first Asian-American woman to run for president, and Ridin' and Rhymin' on cowgirl-cum-poet Georgie Sicking. As for music, check out this rundown of lineup, including Lovers and Tender Forever:
Northwesterners, get your tickets now! For non-Portlanders, it's worth it to check out the line-up for unknown artists you didn't know you were missing.
I wince whenever I hear a movie described as "not your average chick flick," because while I want it to mean "intriguing, character-driven film on what it means to be a contemporary woman that just might have mass appeal!", it usually means is "It's a chick flick. There's just more vulgarity and boobs so your boyfriend will buy a ticket." The latest contender is Women in Trouble, which debuted at SXSW this spring. Writer/director Sabastian Gutierrez describes his new film as a "a comedy about a serpentine day in the life of ten seemingly disparate women – including a porn star, a flight attendant, a businesswoman, a psychiatrist, a masseuse, a bartender and a pair of call girls."
Wow! There were a lot of skinny white women in lingerie and tight clothes in that trailer! But I also saw a female-centric film (although it's written by a dude, although that dude has collaborated with Almódovar, although Almódovar recently...I DIGRESS!) and a plot revolving around more than relationship woes (wonder how they'll handle that unplanned pregnancy....). Plus that 13-year old seems pretty awesome. It's obvious this movie isn't your average "Lonely successful career girl doesn't even know she's falling in love--and it's the best thing to ever happen to her!" That being said, I do suspect there is some female bonding and heart-to-hearts (to say nothing of Josh Brolin and Jospeh Gordon-Levitt's presence for chrissake!) But you guys, this is NOT A CHICK FLICK. Take their word for it....
I met her in the backyard. She was soaking up the sun, wishing it would never set. She greeted me with excitement, her energy radiating. When she spoke I could sense she was a strong woman that had worked hard for what she had. I quickly learned that she was a Portland-based writer & director...
"Today's Made Us Think comment comes from "Elly," who writes in response to Missy Schwartz's interview with Jane Campion,
I suspect a large reason there are so few well-known female filmmakers may be that so many female writers, directors etc. are too focused on the lack of "just for women" entertainment, and so tend to turn out stuff with distinct agendas for distinct female audiences — i.e. the 'empowerment' Campion spoke of — instead of just focusing on making a good product. I see it all the time in books – I rarely read sci-fi or fantasy by female authors, because the story is usually just there as a weak afterthought to help move the rant along, the real point of the book being to obsess over what patriarchal pigs men can be. Case in point: Margaret Atwood.
That's one theory, and it certainly got us thinking. What about you?"
As to be expected, responses in the comments section ranged from ignorant to sound:
While I'm personally in no way rattled by the acquisition/merger, I do think that it provides some opportunities to discuss gender, entertainment and marketing.
Marvel has over 70 years of history, and Disney will have access to over 5,000 characters (though the ones that have been mentioned most in the past week are the most profitable: Spider-Man, Iron Man, and the X-Men. Hmmmmm . … what could be missing here?)
The deal has included lots of business speak about "brands," "vertical integration," "long-term growth," "value creation," and my favorite, "synergy," (mostly because it reminds me of 30 Rock's Jack Donaghy telling Liz Lemon to "never badmouth synergy"). There certainly will be many opportunities for profit, but I'm interested in how y'all respond to the fact that one of Disney's major motivating factors has been securing a young male demographic.
My husband's response: "Well, duh." (As you can probably guess, I relate to smart, sophisticated, powerful, independent women – I bet most of you do too. ;)
Elizabeth Tudor (1533-1603) was a complicated and fascinating woman who continually made it clear that she was rising above the perceived limitations of her sex to lead her country. She was known as The Virgin Queen; though whether or not she was a virgin in the literal sense remains debatable – she certainly belonged to no man. In fact, she claimed she was married to England.
She did entertain suitors (and often pitted them against one another) in order to gain political advantage. Marriage, of course, would have meant losing control of her affairs, and after having seen what her father did to her mother, Anne Boleyn, and to her sister's mother, Catherine of Aragon, as well as to her subsequent step-mothers, she was savvy to avoid such entanglements. As she famously said, "Better beggar woman and single than Queen and married," – a belief that ensured Good Queen Bess a freedom rarely afforded female monarchs.
Elizabeth I is a woman that captures the imagination, and many actresses have played her over the years – from Sarah Bernhardt's silent portrayal in 1912'sLes amours de la reine Élisabeth to Bette Davis in the Hollywood drama The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex in 1939 to Helen Mirren in Elizabeth I in 2005.
Listed below, in no particular order, are but a few of the women (and one man) who have most notably played the Virgin Queen in all her tempestuousness and grace.
In this, the second part of my email interview with directors Kristy Guevara-Flanagan and Dawn Valadez, the collaborators talk about breaking the rules of documentary filmmaking, getting the girls to open up on camera, how their film can be used in classrooms, and their future projects.
The ambitious, and successful, documentary Going on 13 will begin broadcasting on Public Television this September. The 73 minute film (which is in English, Spanish and Hindi, with English subtitles) takes place over a period of four years and reveals the interior lives, family commitments and school days of Ariana, an African American, Esmeralda, a Mexican American, Isha, an immigrant from India, and Rosie, a mixed race Latina, as they navigate crossing the threshold from childhood to adolescence.
Directors Kristy Guevara-Flanagan and Dawn Valadez's award winning project is an intimate look at a difficult transitional period for any child; their compassionate study is landmark not only in its ambition but that in it addresses the concerns of a diverse group of pre-teen and urban girls of color.
Moments we get to share include Ariana crying at her mother's wedding, Rosie discovering Allen Ginsberg at a local bookstore, Esme's sister's Quinceañera, and Isha's trip to India. We see them questioning the changes their bodies are making – or what they've heard those changes will be. One schoolmate asks, "Have your parent's talked to you about pube-er-tee? Do you have internal or external bleeding – or something like that?" Another friend says about a boy crush, "They are in love, even though they don't know what love is." A later scene featuring a woefully unqualified male schoolteacher conducting a sex education class makes it all the more painfully clear that our children receive mixed and confusing messages at a critical time, and that girls in particular are in need of female role models and support systems.
But they grow up anyway –with or without it. As Esme wisely puts it, "I'm turning into a young person and I'm supposed to change. I can't stay little all my life. I would if I could, but I can't so I shouldn't."
Co-directors, Guevara-Flanagan and Valadez graciously took the time to answer interview questions by email on their filmmaking careers, finding the girls (and where they are now), the logistics of such an ambitious project, and what they're currently working on. The first part follows; part two will be posted on Friday!