No American director makes stronger or more truthful films about women than ALLISON ANDERS and, with Grace Of My Heart, she's on top form.
Story: Alan Morrison
Four films down the line. self-confessed ‘hippie chick‘ Allison Anders is still as un-llollywood as you could hope to find. Perhaps it‘s the tattoos on her hands and chest. intricate designs that include the names of her daughters. Perhaps it‘s her openness. the warmth that radiates from her. Certainly it‘s got something to do with a life story that‘s more eventful than a television mini-series.
Born in rural Kentucky 42 years ago. Anders spent her teens running away from home. ending up in jails and foster homes. Working in London. she had a hysterical pregnancy at the time rumours were raging about the death of Paul McCartney. believing the father of her non-existent child was the ghost of the Beatle (it‘s all there in her unmade screenplay l’util Is Dead). Later. as a single mother. close personal care of her two daughters meant the girls occasionally slept among cuttings on the editing suite floor. Following the death of a young Chicano gang member featured in her second film. Mi Vida Luca. she successfully adopted the girl‘s infant son. ‘That child has so much testosterone.’ she says of young Ruben. ‘he already has a moustache and he's only six years old.‘
Anders‘s films have a deeper resonance and understanding of the female experience than offered by any amount of pre-packaged ‘womcn’s movies’. Her latest work. Grace Of My Heart. tells the ﬁctional story of Denise Waverly. a singer-songwriter who struggles through the late 50s and ()()s to achieve 22 TIIELIS'I’ 21 Feb—6 Mar 1997
'Women's lives don’t tend to work along very linear lines, they tend to go off in different directions. It's almost like roots of a tree or something.’
Dream team: director Allison Anders (centre) flanked by executive producer
and 'mentor' Martin Scorsese, and actress llleana Douglas
the recognition she deserves. often at the expense of
personal happiness. The difficulties facing a creative woman in the male-dominated entertainment industry — albeit in a musical context — are obviously close to Anders‘s heart.
‘That era is very similar to what women directors are going through now. when maybe we can have our own voice.‘ she agrees. ‘Before then. we had to do stuff for other people or we had to be relegated to certain kinds of subject matter. And for me it was a very similarjourney as well — I took a lot of the same digressions Denise took. Women’s lives don’t tend to work along very linear lines. they tend to go off in different directions. It‘s almost like the roots of a tree or something. You find yourself in love with someone. you decide to get married and then you have a child. and then your whole world and your work changes.‘
It‘s ironic that Anders‘s profile was raised in recent years not because of her well observed independent work like debut feature Gas Food Lodging. but as one of four directors. including Quentin 'l‘arantino. involved with the ill-fated Four Rooms.
‘Therc‘s no escaping the fact that it was a pretty miserable experience for everyone involved.‘ she admits. ‘lt was originally supposed to be four friends having some fun experimenting. and then a certain kind of hype started to happen that was really damaging to the whole project. The movie stars were not the problem. Madonna was incredible. She had no entourage with her. only her own hair and make- up aitist. but she paid for it herself and said he could work on some of the other girls too. Four Rooms is definitely my demon child. I don‘t disown it. but then neither did Rosemary in Roswnaijv's Ila/2y — even after she screamed “What have they done to her eyes“.‘
Glasgow Showcase and Edinburgh UCI from Fri 21 Feb. See review.
TRAINSPOTTING continues to take on the world and come out on top.
According to Variety. the entertainment industry’s Bible, the film was the most profitable in the world last year. This is worked out in some complicated manner pitting actual cost ($3.5 million) against worldwide box office take (572 million) - which puts the radge-fest above the likes of II Postino, Seven and Sense And Sensibility. There's also general rejoicing for John Hodge's Oscar nomination in the Best Adapted Screenplay category. The young doctor is in good company: he only has to beat Arthur Miller (for The Crucible) and Shakespeare (for Hamlet).
PILTON VIDEO’s Invasion Of The Home Snatchers, made in association with the Edinburgh Tenants Association, is a fine piece of documentary filmmaking with an impact that stretches way beyond its local roots. A shocking exposé of the capital's housing problem, it points the finger at politicians from all parties for putting private profit before commitment to public sector housing. Producer-director Joel Venet and his team argue the points clearly and effectively, but it's the images of rubbish-strewn wasteground and asthmatic children’s bedrooms, black with damp, that really hit home. Okay, these estates aren’t at the level of slums in Rio, but the film shows that's no reason to feel complacent in the City Chambers or Westminster.
POLITICS AND FILM also come together on the west coast when ‘Undercurrents' hits the Glasgow Film Theatre on Sunday 23 February at 12.45pm. The event brings together people interested in environmental, political and human rights issues, with low-tech video footage shot on camcorders on sites of direct political action. Scheduled videos include reports on the Skye Bridge and the Newbury campain. 'The news you don’t see on the news,’ said The Guardian about an earlier screening, so if you want to experience a different perspective on issues that matter, get along, or call Antonine Films on 0141 221 3435. (Alan Morrison)
John Hodge: taking Trainspotting to the Oscars