REEL WOMEN FEATURE
DIFFERENT TAKES 0N
Two new American films — Mi Vida Loca and I Like It Like That — give rare on-screen expression to the country’s Hispanic communities. So, asks Alan Morrison, how come the directors are both female — one white, one black — and neither Launo?
Allison Anders (Los Angeles)
There's no swank apartment in Beverly Hills for LA resident Allison Anders. For six years. the 40-year-old writer-director. who came to the fore in 1992 with the excellent independent movie (ias Food Lodging. made her home in the Mexlean-American gangland of Echo Park. It was there that she picked up street stories from the Chicano gang girls that now wind their way through Mi Vida Loea (My Crazy Life). Working with a mixture of young unknown actors and local nonprofessionals. she encouraged as much improvisation as possible in rehearsals in order to give a voice to those denied their say in mainstream American cinema.
Anders's own life story is remarkable. Born in Kentucky. she spent a rebellious childhood running away from home and ending up for short periods in jail. ‘When I was fifteen.‘ she says. ‘1 went crazy. basically. and had a btmch of imaginary characters and a hysterical pregnancy because there was a lot of trauma during my adolescence . . . a very mean stepfather and a violent homelife.‘ After visiting London for a while at the age ofeighteen. she returned to the States with a baby daughter and tried to make ends meet as a waitress. ‘When I \k as pregnant with my second daughter. people said. “Well. now you can really kiss
the future goodbye‘ . It was hard. but I had a welfare system that worked.‘
The film world is tough enough without being a single mother. btrt Anders has a rare combination of talent. kindness and determination: snubbing her detractors. she enrolled in UCLA Film School, where she co-directed the cult punk movie Border Radio. Now. with both (his l-ood Lodging and Mi Vida Loea. she has established herself as one of the most exciting newcomers in the US independent sector. Next up is the eagerly awaited. multi-episode feature Four Rooms. for which she teamed up with fellow hotshots Quentin 'farantino. Alexandre Rockwell (In The Soup) and Robert Rodriguez (15/ Mariachi).
Her solo future projects include Grace Of Heart, about a female singer-songwriter in the 60s (to be executive produced by Martin Scorsese). and Paul Is Dead. inspired by her own hysterical pregnancy at the height of Beatlemania when she believed the father of her baby was the ghost of Paul McCartney. Okay. Hollywood: beat that fora pitch. C]
All” lida Lot'a opens a! the Edinburgh Film/rouse on Friday 3/ Mare/i and the Glasgow Film Theatre on Friday 7 April.
Darnell Martin (New York)
There‘s something to be proud of when you're lauded as the first African-American woman to write and direct a movie for a major Hollywood studio (Columbia Pictures). But it can also be a convenient marketing tool in an industry that seems determined to pigeon-hole its more unique talents. ‘lt's all hype. it‘s bullshit.’ reckons Darnell Martin of the advance publicity for her debut. [Like It Like That. ‘But I guess l have to say that it‘s important to understand there wasn‘t an opening before. and hopefully we‘ll have more diverse lilmmakers -- black American women. Asian American women. Latino women . . . '
I Like It Like That follows the trials of Lisette (Lauren Velez). who takes her life and her family's well-being into her own hands when her husband is sent to jail. Taking a job as an assistant to a record company executive. she sees first-hand the problems posed by corporate America if you’re young. beautiful. female and non-white. It‘s all rather like the situation Martin now finds herself in. having been picked up by Columbia after pitching her script around various production houses. However, the twentysornething director has plenty experience as a camera assistant on several Spike Lee movies (I Like It Like That has that early Spike spirit. albeit from a feisty woman‘s perspective) and a background growing up in the Bronx.
Martin is perhaps the first female American director to have gained notice so quickly after leaving film school (NYU itr her case). but her criticism of the country's academic set-up is scathing. ‘You’re in a school where you‘re graded on your work. What happens is you get $1.000 production grant for your ﬁlm. but you’re competing with rich kids whose parents can give them $70,000 to rent extra equipment. A lot of people in my class. who had a story to tell. but maybe came to school in their 40s and had families and so didn't have their own money to spend. they were told “Okay. do it on video and you‘ll still get a grade and graduate". But those films were shown in the little theatres where the industry people don't go. These schools are not really caring about the Students; they‘re caring about turning out slick product to attract agents. I received financial awards for a couple of my films and. instead ofgiving me the money. they took it away from my financial aid. so all I got were awards in name. i think it discriminates against poor students.‘ C] I Like It Like That opens at the Edinburgh Film/rouse on Friday 24 Mare/1 and at the Glasgow l'ilht Theatre on Monday 17 April.
It’s no longerjust a boy’s game — women have gained a hold in Hollywood as actors, producers and
I Jodie Foster With a Soul/I Bank Show profile. the release of Neil (developed by her own production company. Egg Pictures) and another Oscar nomination all in recent weeks. the 32-year-old Foster is at the height of her long association with Hollywood. After making her debut as director with 1992's rather straightft.)rward Little Man 'late. she struck a three-year deal by which PolyGram Filmed Entertainment funds Egg to develop and produce projects under her creative directorship. with Home For The Holiday as her second
shot at directing.
I Kathryn Bigelow A biker movie (The Loveless). a vampire ﬂick (Near Dark). a cop thriller (Blue Steel) and a rollicking actioner (Point Break) — director Bigelow takes on the genres that are traditionally male domains 5
Jodie Foster, director at little Man late
The List 24 Mar-6 Apr 19959;