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TIFF Preview: Women Directors to Watch

Women and Hollywood By Melissa Silverstein and Kerensa Cadenas | Women and Hollywood September 5, 2012 at 2:00PM

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.
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Satellite

Catriona McKenzie has directed the short films The Third Note and Road and numerous television shows. She attended the Australian Film, Television and Radio School. Satellite Boy is her first feature film.

McKenzie: Satellite Boy is an allegorical adventure about ones boy’s quest to find his homeland, and his heart.

McKenzie: My first short film was a boxing film – no dialogue and a muscular cinematic language to drive the narrative. Plenty of violence in that film!

My next film, The Third Note was based on a sound theory. The harmonic idea was a metaphor for the neighborly dispute that was the central question of the film. It was a war of sound between two people across one backyard fence.

McKenzie: So in previous films I had explored narrative drama and how it is often driven by violence, (on some level).  It certainly ups the stakes. But what if there was a different way of constructing a story? With Satellite Boy I wrote a story, distilled. Archetypal. My touchstone was a sculpture by Brancusi. I wanted to take the audience on a journey – as much experiential as plot driven. When you are deep in the Australian desert surrounded by the space of country and the Milky Way you are forced to look at ones self. It is an initiation of sorts. And you come out the other side of the film with something new, changed.

I wrote this story based on my own experiences, but transcribed onto different characters. I wanted to take an audience on a journey, an adventure, into another world, my world and cosmology, wrapped up in familiar universal dynamics in a completely fresh way!

McKenzie: In Australia there are many women directors both in TV and film. I don’t have any statistics and this is purely anecdotal but I think we do well in the industry. As a woman director my reputation is as a muscular, visually dynamic director, with the ability to work with actors towards great performances. I love stunt work, car crashes, technical stuff and visual effects but I thrive on going for great performances too. So I’m technical and emotional all wrapped up together. There have been times when I’ve been the first woman to direct a TV series – and I’ve always found that odd. I think most woman have this ability to juggle many different ideas and tasks at once – the perfect directing combination.

So it really surprises me that there aren’t more women directing movies. I have no idea why it’s that way in other territories either. Then again, who wouldn’t want to direct - it’s the most fun to be had. I’ve directed TV commercials as well as TV drama. Satellite Boy is my first feature film but I loved it and am already planning my next film. I get to use both sides of my brain as the process moves through writing to financing to pre-production into filming and post. It is such fun!

Perhaps that fun is a tad closely guarded. But I think there will be a changing of the guard. It’s pure economics really. If women are the majority decision makers when it comes to what movies are seen, then it makes sense that producers will gravitate to women filmmakers. I don’t go to work thinking about myself as a woman director. I’m very clear about what I do and how I do it and it’s difficult to argue with results.

This article is related to: Toronto Film Festival, Women Directors, Women Writers, Shola Lynch, Gauri Shinde , Nina Davenport, Catriona McKenzie, Treva Wurmfeld, Ramaa Mosley