Most of this review was written after screening the film at the Toronto Film Festival. It has been augmented.
Women and Hollywood: Why did you start the movie off with the Audre Lorde quote?
Dee Rees: I started the movie when I was going through my own coming out process. I was reading a lot of Audre Lorde and listening to Nina Simone, but Audre Lorde was who I latched on to and followed her life journey. I could really relate to her experiences about fitting in and always being the “other.” The quote: “Wherever the bird with no feet flew, she found trees with no limbs.” For me, that means she has no place and there is no place for her and that’s how I interpret it. And that’s why I wanted to start the film with that because that’s what Alike’s journey is about. She feels like she doesn’t have a place.
WaH: You started the film as a short and then it progressed to a feature. Did you know you always wanted it to be a feature film?
DR: We actually wrote it as a feature, first. Then we took an excerpt and shot it as a short.
But even in their small numbers women are making waves. Here are some highlights:
Jennifer Yuh Nelson made a hugely successful animated film Kung Fu Panda 2 and now she is the highest grossing female director taking the title from Phyllida Lloyd who this year gave us Meryl Streep's tour de force in The Iron Lady.
Several actresses went behind the camera for the first time including Vera Farmiga (Higher Ground) and Angelina Jolie (In the Land of Blood and Honey). Jodie Foster made The Beaver which unfortunately was stuck with the Mel Gibson whose baggage dragged down a very interesting film.
I was able to speak with the star of the film Adepero Oduye last September at the Toronto Film Festival. Here is our interview.
Women and Hollywood: How did you get into acting?
Adepero Oduye: I was in college and pre-med on track to be a doctor and I realized I didn’t want to do that anymore. I thought about what I wanted to do and I took an acting class my senior year and loved it. It was the kind of thing where it was challenging but I still wanted to do more. I graduated and was like I’m going to be an actor. My mother did not understand. It was as if I was an entirely different person.
I didn’t know anyone who was an actor so I just started looking at Backstage. My first audition was an open call and I had no picture and no resume – that’s how clueless I was. I just thought I could show up. Slowly but surely I gathered information and just learned and did a lot of things to get experience.