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Contemporary Women Filmmakers Some Key Examples: Susanne Bier Jane Campion Nora Ephron.

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Presentation on theme: "Contemporary Women Filmmakers Some Key Examples: Susanne Bier Jane Campion Nora Ephron."— Presentation transcript:

1 Contemporary Women Filmmakers Some Key Examples: Susanne Bier Jane Campion Nora Ephron

2 Susanne Bier (1960- ) is a Danish film director. She studied at the Bezalel Academy of Arts & Design in Jerusalem and also studied architecture in London before attending film school at the National Film School of Denmark (a 1987 graduate). Since 1990, her feature films have gained increasing attention both in Denmark and internationally. Susanne Bier

3 The cinema of Denmark has a long and highly respected history, from the films of Carl Theodor Dreyer ( ; considered to be one of the greatest directors of all time; e.g., The Passion of Joan of Arc, 1928; Vampyr, 1932) to the works of contemporary masters Gabriel Axel (e.g., Babettes Feast, 1987), Bille August (e.g., Pelle the Conqueror, 1988), Thomas Vinterberg (e.g., The Celebration/Festen, 1998), and Lars von Trier (e.g., Breaking the Waves, 1996; Dancer in the Dark, 2000; Dogville, 2003; Melancholia, 2011). Note that among these important Danish directors, Susanne Bier is the sole female. Susanne Bier

4 After the Wedding (2006) was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, but lost to the German film The Lives of Others. After the Wedding garnered a number of other international awards, however. Other Bier films of note are The One and Only (1999), Open Hearts (2002), and Brothers (2004). Her only U.S.-based film to date, Things We Lost in the Fire (2008), starring Halle Berry and Benicio del Toro, received mixed critical reviews. Her 2011 film, In a Better World, received the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Susanne Bier

5 Like many of Biers films, After the Wedding was produced by the Danish film company Zentropa, founded in 1992 by Danish National Film School grads Lars von Trier and Peter Aalbaek Jensen. In an ethnographic study of Zentropa conducted over a ten-year period, scholar Jesper Strandgaard (2011) concluded that the company uses a prototypical auteur model for productioni.e., a director-centered model characterized by artistically driven logic. This is as opposed to the more typically American high concept model for production, which is market driven, producer-centered, and employs integrated professionals who tend to work within the conventions of the film industry. Zentropa principal Lars von Trier and fellow National Film School of Denmark graduate Thomas Vinterberg in 1995 organized a collective of film directors called Dogme 95. The group issued a 10-point Vow of Chastity aimed at refuting the auteur approach to filmmaking and infusing contemporary cinema with new life. (See Appendix below for the full Vow of Chastity.) Biers 2002 film, Open Hearts, was made under the Dogme 95 requirements (it is also known as Dogme #28). Susanne Bier

6 Susanne Biers films have been variously described as: Celebrating the unpredictability of life (Thompson, 2007) Kitchen-sink realism (Sauntved, 2011) Using clichés to force us to challenge those short-cut judgments and ill-conceived assumptions we too often use to gauge the world around us (Chahine, 2007) Featuring happy, comfortable characters [who are] jolted by events of unfathomable sadness (Gold, 2007) Demonstrating a strong ability to empathize with others (although Bier herself has had a privileged life) (Gold, 2007) Having a recurring focus on the family, with an idealized good family (Marklund, 2008) Including some consideration of Third World issues Often including the loss of a parent by a child Heavy use of elliptical (jump) cutting, hand-held camera, long takes, and super- tight CUs Susanne Bier

7 Biers films have generally been overshadowed internationally by those of her countryman Lars von Trier (Sauntved, 2011). Critics and film festival programmers have found her work too commercial or insufficiently artistic. It should be noted that her film In a Better World (2011), which won both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe, was rejected by the Cannes Film Festival. (Note the recent controversy over the lack of females at Cannes!) controversy over the lack of females at Cannes Susanne Bier

8 Jane Campion (1954- ) is an Australian-born New Zealand screenwriter, producer, and director. Her most famous film is The Piano (1993), which won a great many awards, including Best Origin Screenplay Academy Award and the Palm DOr at Cannes. Jane Campion

9 Jane Campions films without exception focus on female characters who push the boundaries of what society sees as acceptable behavior for women. Some are based on real people, such as Janet Frame, a New Zealand author whose life story is told in the biopic Angel at my Table. Bright Star explores the relationship between 19th-century British poet John Keats and his muse Fanny Brawne. Other female protagonists are purely fictional, as with Sweetie, which looks at two sisters, one of whom suffers from serious psychological disorders. For The Piano, Campion has explored the fictional life of an arranged- marriage bride, mute by choice, and her quest for identity and independence in colonial New Zealand. Jane Campion

10 A Cleveland State University masters thesis by Patrika Janstova, completed in 2007, systematically content analyzed all of Jane Campions films, comparing their content and form to that of a matched set of other films in order to test auteur theory. The thesis found that Campions films are significantly more likely to: (a) present a female point of view, (b) include characters that exhibit a psychological disorder, appear to be lonely, and are not happy, (c) depict characters traveling, notably to other countries, and (d) include characters who must deal with a variety of family issues and dysfunctions. It seems clear that these thematic motifs are present in The Piano. Patrika Janstovas thesis also found Jane Campions films to be significantly different from the films of others in terms of film production techniques. It was found that Campions films are significantly more likely to: (a) incorporate closeups of the extremities of the human body (i.e., arms, hands, legs, feet), as well as tight closeups of touching, (b) use extreme closeup images of mirrors and windows, (c) use a handheld camera, (d) use slow motion, and (e) use color filters. Jane Campion

11 Nora Ephron ( ) was a journalist, playwright, novelist, producer, screenwriter, and director. She was one of the most prominent female talents ever to work in American film. Nora Ephron

12 Nora Ephron was the eldest of four daughters born to screenwriters Henry and Phoebe Ephron (Belles on Their Toes, Carousel, Desk Set, Theres No Business Like Show Business, Take Her Shes Mine (loosely based on the letters Nora sent home from college)). Growing up in Beverly Hills, Nora had contact with many great Hollywood writers of the 1940s and 1950s (e.g., Charles Brackett, Julius Epstein). At then allfemale Wellesley, she encountered many young women seeking their MRS degree; she later claimed that her alma mater had turned out a generation of docile women. She chose a career track, working as a journalist for The New York Post and Esquire, and eventually transitioned into novels and screenplays. All four of the daughters of Henry and Phoebe Ephron became successful writers. Noras mother Phoebe Ephron is oftquoted as saying, everything is copy. Even on her deathbed, Phoebe reportedly told her daughter, Take notes, Nora, take notes. Nora Ephron

13 Nora Ephron wrote the roman à clef Heartburn in 1983, a novelization of her volatile second marriage to Carl Bernstein of Washington Post/Watergate fame. The novel was adapted for film in 1986, with friend and frequent collaborator Mike Nichols directing. Some other Ephron films you might recognize are Silkwood (1983; Screenwriter), When Harry Met Sally (1989; Producer and Screenwriter), My Blue Heaven (1990; Producer and Screenwriter), Sleepless in Seattle (1993; Director and Screenwriter), Michael (1996; Producer, Director, and Screenwriter), Youve Got Mail (1998; Producer, Director, and Screenwriter), and Julie and Julia (2009; Producer, Director, and Screenwriter). Nora Ephron

14 Ephron was one of the most important female creative talents in American film. Think of other female writers in American cinema: Early Hollywood screenwriters Anita Loos and Frances Marion; midcentury screenwriters Jay Presson Allen, Leigh Brackett, Betty Comden, Ruth Gordon, Sally Benson, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala; contemporary writers Diablo Cody, Allison Anders, Sofia Coppolla, Nancy Meyers Ephron also distinguished herself as one of Americas most prominent female directors. How does her work compare to that of other female directors? In postsilent Hollywood there were essentially only two prior to the 1970s, Dorothy Arzner and Ida Lupino. Later came Penelope Spheeris, Penny Marshall, Amy Heckerling, Gurinder Chadha, Jane Campion, Kathryn Bigelow, Agnieszka Holland, Betty Thomas, Mira Nair Nora Ephron

15 Nora Ephron has often been noted for her devastating wit, and even compared to the legendary Dorothy Parker. In Tom Brokaws book Boom: Voices of the Sixties, he refers to Ephron as a sharpeyed observer or her life and times... a muse and a gold standard of smart thinking. From Jack Harts book Storycraft: Nora Ephron, one of the most selfreflective practitioners of the narrative craft, said [that reporters] were the kind of people who seemed most comfortable on the sidelines, hanging back with a certain kind of detachment while they watched others play the game of life. I always seem to find myself at a perfectly wonderful event, she wrote, where everyone else is having a marvelous time, laughing merrily, eating, drinking, having sex in the back room, and I am standing on the side taking notes on it all. Nora Ephron

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