Projections 13: Women Film-Makers on Film-Making

By Dickens, Chad | Film & History, January 1, 2006 | Go to article overview

Projections 13: Women Film-Makers on Film-Making


Dickens, Chad, Film & History


Isabella Weibrecht and John Boorman, editors. Projections 13: Women Film-makers on Film-making. Faber, 2005. 320 pages; $20.00.

Quest for the Female Voice

In the Projections series about film in New York, Hollywood, animation, and motion pictures, it was inevitable that eventually an issue-the thirteenth-would be dedicated to the female filmmaking experience.

The book is a hodgepodge of essays and interviews each addressing a specific yet too often unrelated topic. Among the strongest of its nineteen chapters-most early in the book-is the longest: the particularly enjoyable diary kept by Rebecca Miller during the production of her award-winning film Personal Velocity. With an adept personal writing style, she compellingly describes in vivid detail the trials and tribulations inherent in producing and directing a small film. She offers invaluable insight into film development and the processes necessary to complete a film that just happened to win the 2002 Grand Jury Prize at Sundance. (I recommend the DVD-extra "In Conversation with Rebecca Miller" to complement this chapter.)

A chapter devoted to screen siren Anna Karina makes much of the fact she was directed by her husband, Jean-Luc Godard, in numerous 1960's films. When asked how she felt about her husband using their married life as fodder for dialogue in the films, her less than illuminating retort was that working for her husband was "special." This puff-piece is a nice little bio of a former screen star but reveals little sufficiently insightful or novel to warrant inclusion.

The section hailing Heather McGowan and her writing of the independent feature Tadpole is illuminating of the many aspects of tight budget filmmaking. She explains the writing process includes editing, rough drafts, revising, characterizations, motivations, music, and publicity. However, it is unclear what makes her "process" any different because she is a woman. I found it amusing a book touted as specifically about women's filmmaking experience amply demonstrated little to distinguish it from a male's. …

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