Rendez-Vous with French Cinema in New York filmmakers participating in the panel discussion moderated by Isabelle Giordano, executive director of uniFrance films, were Justine Triet, Axelle Ropert, Rebecca Zlotowski, Katell Quillévéré along with US directors, Stacie Passon, Deborah Kampmeier, and Ry Russo-Young.
President of the French Institute Alliance Française Marie-Monique Steckel welcomed the participants.
President of the French Institute Alliance Française Marie-Monique Steckel introduced the evening. Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze
The filmmakers interviewed by Gayet talk about “blind tasting” of films and give answers to the question of whether movies made by men are different from those made by women. “Annie Hall – it’s either made by a man or a woman in love,” and Ozu’s static camera are some of the examples they bring up to illustrate the absurdity of a generalisation. Quillévéré mentions that, of course, filmmakers are formed by personal experience, “we try to talk about what we know.” Valeria Bruni Tedeschi seconds this by saying that men less often are interested in “obsessions about having babies in their bellies, for example.”
Julie Gayet introducing Cinéast(e)s at the French Institute Alliance Française in New York: "I was meeting amazing filmmakers." Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze
Action! French & American Women Filmmakers
Giordano: A lot of Americans are watching us, because 40 cities in America are broadcasting this debate.
Here are some of the highlights:
Gayet: For me, it's important to ask the young generation if things have changed. [In France] there are 25 per cent of women doing films. Only 25 per cent? I thought there were 50 per cent. [When she spoke to people in other countries, she found out that for example in Germany women were having problems with the crèche] and that the kids finish school at one or two in the afternoon. So it's very difficult for them. The system in France for kids is incredible… The film started and it was actually so great that now that we have the subtitled version I was thinking of doing maybe an international sequel. Let's go and see what's happening in America, what's happening everywhere.
Deborah Kampmeier with Katell Quillévéré and Axelle Ropert: "There is an enormous gap between the number of men making films and the number of women." Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze
Passon: I think that Kathryn Bigelow makes films that she wants to make. If she wanted to make Spider-Man or something like that, it was said that she could make that in a minute. Females are about 18 to 20 per cent of independent filmmakers.
Ropert: I find that for women it's easy to be a director in France. It's a little bit of a non-question. It has almost an added value to it in France. When I discussed this with my technicians - I work with a lot of female technicians - they tend to disagree. To be a technician in film, there's a little bit of a glass ceiling for women.
Russo-Young: Yes, I think, too, there is a little bit of a glass ceiling. There are many many female directors on the independent level doing very interesting work. As you climb into Hollywood, you get to studios and agents and meetings with executive producers and the women just completely drop. It's all very male dominated.
Julie Gayet tête-à-tête with Stacie Passon: "Females are about 18 to 20 per cent of independent filmmakers." Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze
Quillévéré: I don't agree with the statement that women's films are more audacious. Next year we could see that the four most daring films at Cannes could be made by men. I think it's a question more of circumstances. The question of subject matter is very important to the press. Between the reality and the representation of what a film is to the press, I think there's always somewhat of a gap. If next year the four most remarkable films at Cannes are made by men, I ask myself if the press is going to remark on this as a new masculine nouvelle vague. It has a lot to do with the crisis in the paper press in French journalism. One of the areas where this is felt the least is in women's press, women's magazines. Maybe if the director is not too old or not too ugly you can put a photo and I tink that approach stems more than anything from the crisis we are seeing in the print media.
Rebecca Zlotowski: "As a French filmmaker I have a lot of privileges that my American friends who are filmmakers don't have."
The evening concluded with a powerful four-minute short directed by Lisa Azuelos called 14 Million Screams, that Gayet brought for us to watch.
Gayet: One of the directors I've been interviewing, Lisa Azuelos, had that crazy idea of doing a short film for two days. We did it two weeks ago and just finished it.