Monday 25 February 2013

WADJDA, a film by Haifaa Al Mansour

 "Interested in your father's family tree? You aren't included. It only includes men's names."

WADJDA is the first film ever made in Saudi Arabia. Written and Directed by Haifaa Al Mansour, it tells the story of a girl who challenges her country's traditions.

WADJDA will be part of a special pre-release London exclusive International Womens Day Gala Screening as part of  the Birds Eye Film Festival on the 8th of March 2013 at the British Film Institute. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with the writer/ director Hafifaa Al Monsour.

Writer and Director Haifaa Al Mansour

To book tickets: ( British Film Institute)

For more information: (Birds Eye View Festival)

Tuesday 19 February 2013

"The Notorious Bettie Page" (2005) by Mary Harron

The life of "Queen of Pin Ups" Bettie Page from the abuse suffered in her childhood in Tennessee to her success as a pin up and bondage model in New York in the 50s to her rediscovered Christian faith in Florida (2005). The film was directed, produced and written (with Guinevere Turner) by Mary Harron, and it starrs Gretchen Mol as Bettie.

Born in Ontario, Canada in 1953. Harron has also co-wrote and directed "I shot Andy Warhol" (1996), "American Psycho (2000), "The Moth Diaries" (2005) and is due to direct "The Anna Nicole Smith Story". (written by John Rice and Joe Batteer).

Mary Harron

Sunday 17 February 2013

Corpo Celeste (2011) by Alice Rohrwacher

Corpo Celeste (2011) is the exquisite feature debut by Italian filmmaker Alice Rohrwachter. The title of the film translates as 'Celestial Body' and is taken from a collection of essays by Italian writer Anna Maria Ortese.

Born in Italy in 1982 and with a background in documentaries, Rohrwachter brings a "dreamily mysterious"  eye to contemporary Italy and the Catholic Church via the character of Martha (played by Yie Vianello).

Below is an extract interview with the writer/ director Alice Rohrwacher from The British Film Institute website:

The daughter of a German father and an Italian mother, the 31-year-old Rohrwacher, who grew up in rural Tuscany, stresses that Corpo Celesteis not a work of autobiography and that she didn’t herself receive a Catholic education. She took her title, which translates as ‘a celestial body’, from a collection of essays by the Italian writer Anna Maria Ortese.
“The book didn’t have anything to do with the film, but I was struck by Ortese’s image of the Earth itself being a celestial body, suspended in space,” she says. “We read at school about celestial bodies being up in the heavens and forget that we ourselves are living on a corpo celeste. For me Marta’s story is about making that discovery, as she finds a way through her world in this new city.”

Shot in chilly tones on Super 16mm by acclaimed cinematographer Hélène Louvart (whose credits include Pina (2011) and The Beaches of Agnès (2008)), Corpo Celeste shares the handheld immediacy of the films made by the Dardenne brothers. Yet its subjective perspective of a female adolescent questioning religious orthodoxy also has echoes of Lucrecia Martel’s The Holy Girl (2005) and Katell Quillévéré’s Love Like Poison (2011).
“Lucrecia Martel is a director I admire very much, especially La Ciénaga. For me what was important was to present a partial view through the film, rather than attempt to give the spectator all the information. The characters of Marta and Don Mario and Santa are like guides. You come to understand their solitude and isolation, and that their gaze is subjective. And after a great deal of talk about catechism and God, I wanted there to be a real, tangible and physical miracle at the end.”
Having travelled with Corpo Celeste to various international festivals, including Cannes where it played in Directors’ Fortnight, Sundance and London last autumn, Rohrwacher has been struck by the number of questions in Q&A sessions asking whether the film should be classified as a work of documentary or of fiction. Prior to her debut, she had made a short documentary with the same producer, Carlo Cresto-Dina, also featuring Reggio Calabria, and had also worked as an editor. In developing Corpo Celeste she spent time attending catechism lessons, reading confirmation manuals and visiting churches in her chosen city. “The film is heavily scripted”, she adds. “I wrote about 12 versions of the script, before we started filming and I spent spent several weeks with the actors, many of whom were non-professionals, in rehearsals to achieve a level of naturalism.”

The hardest role to cast turned out to be Marta, whom Rohrwacher eventually discovered in a self-sufficient rural commune near Pistoia in a mountainous region of Tuscany. “We had to look for a long time to discover someone who had Marta’s ‘otherness’”, acknowledges the director. “We knew straightaway she would be perfect for the role. She’s never been to school and she’d never been to a big city before, so it was a huge journey for her. But I do want to say, Yile is not just playing herself, and that Marta is a character. As for the priest, Don Mario, it would have been interesting to have a whole film about him. He carries out his duties like an everyday job, in isolation. He doesn’t appear to have any shining faith.”
source: British Film Institute/ Sight & Sound Magazine: (you can click on this post's title to access the full page).


In this blog I intend to do some historical justice to the many, many women who have contributed with their genius, creativity, adventurous spirit, nurturing - amongst other qualities - to the apparent linear and male dominated prescribed notion of History. This is just the beggining.