TIFF Preview: Women Directors to Watch

Festivals
by Melissa Silverstein and Kerensa Cadenas
September 5, 2012 2:00 PM
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Shola Lynch previously worked as visual researcher and associate producer for Ken Burns and Florentine Films. Her first feature documentary was Chisholm '72--Unbought & Unbossed.

Lynch: Free Angela and All Political Prisoners is a documentary movie that asks how a bookish 26-year-old philosophy professor ends up on the FBI's Most Wanted List and an international political icon in the early 1970s.

Lynch: Free Angela is a true 1970's style film. The story is a political crime drama with a love story in the middle and many questions that can't be answered.

I also ventured into recreations for the first time. They add enormously to the doc's visual range. I loved working with Director of Photography Bradford Young and actress Eisa Davis, who is Angela's niece and embodied her aunt, to bring the images to life.

Lynch: Angela Davis' story doesn't seem possible but it is true. The mystery around the story and the fact I knew very little about Angela Davis the person drew me. My focus became finding the real woman behind the icon.

Lynch: First question, how many directors are in double digits with features? It is hard for anyone to make movies.

Second, I don't think the difficulty is about creativity. I think it is about business. Movie making is a business. The director is like the CEO of a project, who administers the budget, oversees the crew, and shapes the vision. We don't see a ton of women directors for the same reason we don't see a ton of women CEOs. There is a lack of confidence from investors in women to lead and get the job done in a male dominated field. Although the grey area is that individuals believe in women as leaders -- and directors --  it just doesn't necessarily follow in business practice.

The best way to change the preconception is to be just as creative with the business as the filmmaking -- to find and continually search for pockets where you can gain traction. At least this is what I think at the moment. Talk to me again when I've cracked the nut. Free Angela is feature doc number 2.

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