REEL WOMEN FEATURE
therefore dangerous -— that‘s a common litany.
When Gillian Armstrong made My Brilliant Career in 1978. she was the first Australian woman to direct a feature. But today. female directors from outside the US (certainly from outside l,os Angeles) seem more at ease with the varied implications of their identity. ‘I don‘t know why a country as big as America has so few women directors} says Armstrong. ‘Wcll. I sort of know why. America‘s industry is an old. corporate structure. At the top. it’s still an old boys‘ club. and it‘s the conservative men whose background is in business and money who are frightened of trusting a woman with their company‘s many millions of dollars. 'l‘here are some successful women directing mainstream films. but the quirkier and tnore indiyidual directors aren’t getting the break.
‘Where is the Quentin 'Iarantino'.’ And the David l..ynch‘.’ In Australia — and it would be the
Clockwise from left: Winona Ryder, Trlnl Alvarado, Kirsten Dunst, Susan Sarandon and Claire Danes
same in lingland —— you‘re talking independently linanced pictures. which makes it more likely that anyone young and talented is going to break through. And then. the American
‘America’s industry is old . . . At the top, it’s still an old boys’ club . . . who are frightened of trusting a woman with their company’s many millions of dollars.’ GILLIAN ARMSTRONG
studio system will buy up talent from anywhere in the world. 'l‘hcy don‘t care if a director is a talking dog once you‘ve shown what you can do.‘
liyen then. she reckons. while mediocre men are always in work. for the females it‘s still one flop and you're out. She should know — the last time she worked in Hollywood. on l’ires Within.
the studio sci/ed and recut her lilm
unrecognisably. On Little Women, the footage was edited in Australia.
However, Armstrong thinks things in Hollywood will improve with more women in power. It’s Ryder who shows some cynical uncertainty: ‘A lot of women are in really powerful positions in the industry and still make really lousy movies. that’s what confuses me.’ But her next two films are also to be directed by women — Boys, by New Yorker Stacy Cochran (My New Gun) and How To Make An American Quilt by Jocelyn Moorhouse (Proof). ‘This is how power should be depicted,’ said Ryder of the all-women pre-production meeting Moorhouse’s team had recently. ‘They were respectful. It wasn’t this ugly. climbing thing.’ And — incidently — Jocelyn Moorhouse is an Australian . . . C] '
Little Women opens in Scotland on Friday 24 Marc/1.
Marshall. Jtottpin' Jack Flash. b’ig. Awakenings and A League ()j'l’heir ()wn are all movies as Hollywood wants to make them — solid. strong narratives with tidy endings. Not exactly an anonymous filmmaker. but gender agendas rarely rock the boat in her work.
I Susan Seideiman After a couple of quirky low budget hits (,Sniithereens. Desperately Seeking Susan). Seideltnan never again hit the comic button on the nose (her version of Fay Weldon‘s She-Devil shows her to be uncomfortable with Hollywood money). Much stronger have been her recent offerings — confessions ()fA Suburban Girl. an autobiographical documentary for BBC Scotland‘s Director 's Place series. and The Dutch Master. one of the best shorts on last year‘s film festival circuit.
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‘Delighted’: Emma with Oscar.
I Hora Ephron Heartbeat wasn't so hot. but Ephron‘s Oscar-nominated scripts for .S'i/kil'ooel and When Harry Met Sally paved the way for a surprise mega-hit as director with .S'leepless In Seattle. As long as she's got a hand in the dialogue. you can be sure her fetnale characters won‘t be sidelined, and will give as much as they take.
I Jane Campion The first woman to win the Cannes Palme [)‘Or and only the second to be nominated for the Best Director ()scar (1993's The Piano). New Zealander Campion won acclaim for her shorts before hitting the international scene with An Angel At My 'Iable. Part of the glory of The Piano‘s success must go to its Australian producer. Jan Chapman.
" ., ; who also worked with Gillian
Armstrong on The Last Days Of Che: Nous. The (‘ainpion/Chapman team
are really the ones for the American wannabes to watch.
I Emma Thompson Junior's comic turn brought Thompson added US commercial success to her already high standing in the States through her work with the Merchant/Ivory team and her husband Kenneth Branagh. An Oscar winner for Howards [5nd, she recently adapted Jane Austen's Sense And Sensibility. soon to be unveiled to the public.
I And not forgetting those talents on the rise. still to be fully realised. . . Stacy Cochran (My New Gun). Nancy Savoca (True Love). Maggie Greenwald (The Ballad Of Little Jo). Tamara Davis (CB4). Caroline Thompson (Black Beauty). Betty Thomas (The Brady Bunch). Jocelyn Moorhouse (Proof) . .
Tho I iqr 74 Mar-6 Apr l99511