AFI Women Directors: Meet Patrice Toye

by Kerensa Cadenas
November 13, 2013 1:00 PM
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Little Black Spiders

Patrice Toye was born in 1967 and studied film in Brussels. She has made several short films, documentaries and television programs. In 1995, she wrote the feature Tin Soldier with the support of Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne. Her first feature, Rosie (1998), won several awards on the festival circuit. (AFI)

Little Black Spiders is playing AFI as a part of the Breakthrough section.

Women and Hollywood: Please give us your description of the film playing at AFI.

Patrice Toye: Belgium, 1978. In a hidden location, pregnant teenage girls await the birth of their babies in secret. Some want to put their mistake behind them as soon as possible, but Katja, herself an orphan, clearly wants something different: she longs to have her own little baby. During the long wait, the girls share each other's joys and sorrows. They form close friendships and distract themselves with strange games, until the bubble bursts. Katja becomes painfully aware of the plans that the nuns are making behind their backs. She is not going to let this happen to her baby. Little Black Spiders is a story about the beauty and strength of unexpected friendships.

WaH: What drew you to this story?

PT: In the early 80s, when I was a teenager, a girl in my class threw herself from a church tower because she was pregnant and too ashamed to tell anyone.

WaH: What was the biggest challenge?

PT: The biggest challenge was to find all the young actresses & to avoid a too sensational or accusative tone in the storytelling.

WaH: What advice do you have for other female directors?

PT: Don't follow any one's advice! Do your own thing, be stubborn and follow your own unique voice.

WaH: What are the biggest challenges and or opportunities for the future with the changing distribution mechanisms for films?

PT: We must find other platforms to show more artistic, independent films.

WaH: Name your favorite women directed film and why.

PT: Jane Campion is one of my favorite directors. One can really feel a woman's eye when you look at her work. She can focus on sensitive details a male director would never even see. More recently, I love Andrea Arnold's films like Fish Tank and Red Road.

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