Beginning on Sept. 1, Turner Basic Films will air 14-part documentary “Women Make Film,” an exhaustive have a look at feminine filmmakers worldwide and their work all through cinematic historical past.
The collection dissects parts of filmmaking — from monitoring photographs to crafting narrative arcs — by way of the work of everybody from Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow to Tunisian helmer Moufida Tlatli, the primary Arab lady to direct a full-length characteristic.
“It’s not only about filmmakers in North America,” stated TCM common supervisor Pola Changnon. “It’s about countries where filmmaking reputations aren’t that well-known, especially here. That’s why I love the title of this — ‘Women Make Film.’ It’s a statement of fact, and even though they’re not always well-represented in the film canon, women have been doing this for decades.”
Written and directed by Mark Cousins, the docuseries options a formidable listing of narrators: Tilda Swinton, Jane Fonda, Adjoa Andoh, Sharmila Tagore, Kerry Fox, Thandie Newton and Debra Winger.
In accordance with Cousins, the documentary was 5 years within the making, and its prolonged, 14-hour run time, is on objective.
“I felt that we need to talk about [these women] as filmmakers, not victims of a sexist industry or not marginal figures or not curiosities or not symbols of something,” Cousins stated. “When you dig into the life story of every one of these filmmakers, they made these movies because they loved cinema, and they wanted to express themselves.”
Of the all-star roster of narrators Cousins managed to recruit, he stated asking Fonda to contribute was essentially the most difficult, however an impassioned letter — centered on the passing of Ukrainian filmmaker Kira Muratova — lastly did the trick.
“So I said, ‘Dear Jane Fonda: I was going to write you another letter, but I’m going to write to you about the f—ing disgrace that another legendary female filmmaker has died, and she’s hardly known, and that she should be mentioned in the Oscars’ ‘in memoriam,’” he recalled. “And I think the next morning, there was an email from Jane Fonda saying, ‘I’d love to do it.’ So I went to her house, and we had guacamole and recorded voiceovers.”
To enrich the 14-week occasion, TCM has additionally programmed 100 movies from 44 international locations, a roster that features work by India’s Mira Nair (“Salaam Bombay!”), Kenya’s Wanuri Kahiu (“Rafiki”) and China’s Shaohong Lee (“Stolen Life”). Programming these movies was an endeavor a yr within the making, Changnon stated.
The community can be partnering with re:Think about/ATL, a corporation geared toward nurturing Gen-Z creatives, to host a contest for younger feminine filmmakers aged 12-17.
TCM’s highlighting of the variety of the filmmaking neighborhood comes at a time when many so-called “classic movies” are being re-examined for his or her problematic or racist content material. For TCM, Changnon says, whereas there may be not a “do not air” listing circulating on the community, it does imply figuring out programming that it feels it might probably correctly contextualize. It additionally means reconsidering movies they could have programmed previously, comparable to 1915’s “Birth of a Nation.”
“We used to program it with a very concerted eye on, ‘We have hosts talking about it, talking about the history of it, and where it lives in D.W. Griffith’s filmography,’ all those things,” stated Changnon. “But at this point in time, I think there are too many hurdles to talking about that other stuff and too much pain for our audience in understanding what it contributed to. That’s one where I would say I don’t see us programming back.”