TIFF Preview: Women Directors to Watch

Festivals
by Melissa Silverstein and Kerensa Cadenas
September 5, 2012 2:00 PM
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The Toronto Film Festival launches tomorrow and there are women directors all over the lineup.  We reached out to a couple of directors whose careers are on the way up (we will have some of our masters for you tomorrow) and asked them to answer a couple of questions as the Festival kicks off.  I will try and see as many films as possible over the 8 days in Toronto.  Please follow me on twitter @melsil and/or follow Women and Hollywood on Facebook for updates throughout the day.

There are many women directors to talk to.  We asked them all to answer the following questions:

1- Give us a one sentence description of your film.

2- What is different about this film from your other films? (Some of the directors in this piece are premiering their first film)

3- Toronto is featuring so many great women directors, yet women directors still are stuck down in the single digits in feature film making (the numbers are better in docs.)  Why do you think it is so difficult for these numbers to rise and talk about any ideas you might have about how this could change.

Gauri Shinde - English/Vinglish

Nina Davenport - First Comes Love

Catriona McKenzie - Satellite Boy

Treva Wurmfeld - Shepard & Dark

Ramaa Mosley - The Brass Teapot

Shola Lynch - Free Angela and All Political Prisoners

Gauri Shinde went to the New York Film Academy. She has directed commericals and short films including Oh Man and Y Not. English Vinglish is her first feature film.

Shinde: English Vinglish is a story of an Indian woman who struggles with the English language and her insecurities thereof.

Shinde: This is my first feature film.  

Shinde: This story has been inspired by my mother's life experience. She was a strong woman who raised two children, ran a household and a small business. However she couldn’t speak English and all the other positives seemed irrelevant when faced with this simple fact. Her insecurity in not being able to speak a language that was not even her own had become a large block in her mind was both relevant and interesting for me.  I always had in mind doing a story that was personal to me but yet held some simple universal truths and English Vinglish was born out of that. It is ultimately about a woman speaking up for herself and asserting control over her life by tackling a problem head on. It could be any problem, in English Vinglish, I use language as the medium to weave that narrative into focus.

Shinde: It is very encouraging to see that Toronto is featuring so many great women directors and for me personally it was a big reason for why we wanted to premiere here. The unfortunate fact that there are still not enough women directors is reflective of a larger truth…which is that women for the most part are still underrepresented in a lot of areas beyond films. Be it politics, finance etc.  It’s more of an universal story that women’s voices have been hushed for longer than they have been allowed to speak…having said that, I am very positive about the future…The film industry historically has been a bit more supportive of women and their involvement then a lot of other industries..within the film fraternity in particular one should not just look at how many women directors there are as a benchmark for success…one should instead look at women’s role in all aspects of movie making and in that light English Vinglish has a woman director.

I am proud to say we have an accomplished woman editor, a woman producer one from India and one from New York and the costume and casting headed by women from both countries. My two main assistants are women. The more women are involved in all aspects of film making, you will see numbers grow for them all including directors. I think looking at the big picture of encouraging women to be involved in film making will be the most important step towards seeing a growth in women directors. The other thing that is a sure fire way to see the numbers change is success…the more successful the movie is, the question of who directed it becomes less relevant.

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