Justin- I think you’re misinterpreting my last post. My question for Bob was whether he thought the controversy about Wertmuller was due to her “masculine eye”, whether he thought her success was somehow related to it, and if this would relate to a ‘great’ female director, etc.
The reason I consent to the concept of a lack of great female directors is simply because I have never found a film by a female director that has affected me the way that a film by Bergman, Kubrick, Tarkovsky, etc, has. I don’t consider it ‘blithe’, as I put quite a bit of thought into it before I started this thread and couldn’t come up with anything that would challenge the idea thoroughly enough.
Also Justin- I wanted to thank you for clarifying my comment earlier in this thread. Somewhere along the line you clarified that it didn’t necessarily have to be “the female Truffaut”, that was just an example. A lot of other people seemed to misinterpret that example as being absolute, so thanks.
But don’t you see how dogmatic and preposterous that sounds — “there has never been a female director who ranks with Bergman, etc.” You can say it again and again as part of some kind of herd, or you can re-orient your viewpoint. And you’ll find that the only thing the female directors don’t have on the Bergmans is p.r.
I might be misunderstanding your post Justin but are you saying there are fantastic female directors that no one has heard of? If so who? And if not please explain your last post?
I’m saying there are great female directors everywhere — women we’ve been talking about. Arzner, Duras, Wertmuller, Breillat, Denis, Deren, Harron, Varda, von Trotta. They’re fantastic. They don’t need any apologies made for their gender. And they are equally as great as the vaunted male directors. The great women directors are already here — we are just loathe to acknowledge them for all the bogus conscious and subconscious reasons I’ve been trying to understand throughout this entire thread.
Adriana is 100% correct. Justin i think you are trying to be a little politically correct here, cmon lets wake up and smell the coffee!
Justin, I have only seen one film from all those directors combined. I have only heard of two of them. I am always excited when someone says a name of a director I have never heard of and I will try to see some films from them. Any favorite on that list?
Well, you’re missing out, and flagellating your own gender, and waiting for god knows what second coming of Leni Riefenstahl. I mean, how profoundly depressing for any of these great women filmmakers to be told, “Sorry, I just don’t think you’re as good as the guys.” I’m trying to figure out where that comes from, because it doesn’t come from objective truth. It just doesn’t.
Justin, I see your point.
But I’m not trying to herd. I’m trying to say that there hasn’t yet been a female director with the vision, impact, and influence of the afore-mentioned directors. This is not to say that the female directors aren’t as good- that’s an entirely different argument I think.
If we put this in the frame of auteurism, I suppose my original idea behind this thread was coming from the fact that there are no female directors with the individual style (wait, don’t react yet) and recognition of that style which male directors have had. I’ve never heard someone describe a film as “Duras-esque” or “Wertmuller-esque”. And my curiosity was whether this was a result of it not existing, or just of female director’s work not being widely known enough to warrant it- and if so, why is that?
I think you’re right, it’s too easy to write off female directors work simply because they aren’t as well known. But I also think it’s a worth while topic to examine why it is that female directors haven’t yet been able to reach the height of recognition and influence that male directors do.
That’s the p.r. problem. But it begins with people like us — cinephiles who have the power to re-shape the discourse rather than falling back on stale cliches.
Hey Justin give me some favorite films from that list of female directors. Let me help in the reshaping!
Drew, if you want to watch a great, disturbing film by a woman, try Romance by Catherine Breillat. Also, a film I just watched yesterday that I thought was wonderful — The Notorious Bettie Page by Mary Harron.
Vagabond – Agnes Varda
Meshes of the Afternoon – Maya Deren
Beau Travail or Je N’ai Pas Sommeil or Trouble Every Day – Claire Denis
It does female filmmakers no justice to try and elevate a lesser artist like Agnes Varda to the same level as an Orson Welles. When a woman is as good a filmmaker as Orson, then she should be spoken of in the same breath, but I don’t see how it benefits female filmmakers or film in general to praise female filmmakers who do not have a body of work comparable to the great men.
The time will come when there will be a great female filmmaker, although the state of film as a whole does not look so good right now.
A more important question, in my opinion, is how are female filmmakers different from their male counterparts, and how can they find their own identity in a medium created (almost) totally by men? And if a woman’s opinion of what a great film is, and a female filmmakers notion that the film she has created is a satisfying masterwork, what happens when men do not feel the same? Are there films that only men revere as great films, while a female film lover would not, and are there films(made by a man or woman) that a female film lover see as brilliant but men do not?
For me, my interest is in how we are different not how we are alike. And I want a woman to make a film like a woman, that I would find to be as good as the best from Ford, Kurosawa, etc. “The Piano” could be up there, but what has Campion done since? I have a huge soft spot for “Whale Rider” as well, and the “Vanity Fair” movie was really good; but it was not as good as the other two, much less “The Searchers.”
Again, Justin, I agree. I think that over the course of this thread (which stretched longer than I thought it would, actually), the idea of what we everyone was talking about twisted and changed again and again. Also, perhaps my beginning statement was a big ambiguous to my standpoint.
I’m interested in the reasons why these female directors, who might be as good as any other, just aren’t as well known. I’m not interested in denouncing them as being ‘not as good as the guys’.
So in starting the re-education, Drew and anyone else who hasn’t heard of Lena Wertmuller should see “Seven Beauties” and “Swept Away”. You’ll get not only the benefit of knowing a wonderful female director, but also a wonderful (and disappointingly little known) Italian actor named Giancarlo Giannini.
Thanks I will check those out. How is Sex is Comedy? It is at B&N for only five bucks so if it is half decent I will buy it.
I really think that Maya Deren, Lucrecia Martel, Lartitsa Shepitko, Claire Denis, Agnes Varda, Chantal Ackerman and others were really GREAT female directors. Je, tu il elle, Trouble Every Day, la Ciénaga, Jeanne Dielman, La Niña Santa, L´Intrus, Beau Travail and others rank among my favorite movies of all times.
I think most females have developed other artistic talents such as the musical ones, dancing, performing arts, etc. I really don’t know why, but I guess it has something to do with the developing of sensitivities of each genre. Nonetheless, there ARE great female directors working nowadays, and all of them have a special sensitivity towards cinema. And that’s a great gift for us.
David: Thanks for providing me a list of Duras’ films to seek, find, and watch. I want to know more of her work, and appreciate your suggestions.
Adriana: I think we can think of Wertmuller’s films without any reference to ‘a man’s’ vision or ‘eye’. As the two major works I was discussing take on the whole subject of sex and power, then I think we can say that Wertmuller is doing this from a radical paradigm that has little to do with normal gender perspectives. I know she ruffled alot of feathers – on all sides – which is surely a good thing. No one knew what camp to place her in: was she feminist or Marxist? was she anti-feminist for trying to take on the subject of sex in a completely unromantic way – that in no way places women in a ‘privileged’ position? I think the very complexity of her vision clearly defines why she must be given credit for not succumbing to any easy solutions or trying to ‘resolve’ things to let one side or the other off. Because women get just as hard a time as men in her criticism of sexual politics – or in Lina’s case perhaps the term sexual war might be more appropriate – it is hard to designate her or put her in any camp. Let me put it as frankly as I can – her films are hard to take! She pulls no punches and both sexes come out much the worse for wear. She tries to get at the nitty-gritty of what goes on with sex – which she perceives to be a war of wills – usually stacked in the male’s favour – but she allows the tables to be turned so that the females can be as powerful as the males. Her films can be seen as shocking, disturbing, and totally devoid of sentimentality. Perhaps, from what I know of him – and maybe Justin can help me out here – she most resembles Fassbinder in showing how sexuality can be used by either sex to gain control over the other. She also gets into the dynamic of power through class and wealth – especially in her most intimate film portrayal of this subject – Swept Away.
If the fact that she is not a romantic, takes on the issues of social class from a Marxist perspective, and fractures all myths of a happy ending is then part of some ‘male vision’, I think we are denying women the right to take on these issues with the complexity and hard-nosed vision we usually assign to men. I think it is perfectly valid for a woman to be dealing with issues that are uncomfortable and unsettling in her films. Not every film or story requires a ‘happy’ ending, and we don’t just want films from women that give a fictitious, romanticized view of relationships. I have no problem with women being capable of just as tough a view of the human condition – ie, the roles of men and women – in their films as we allow men. I think there are certainly other women working in films today that shatter the stereotypes of women making films that glorify or romanticize the role of women or women relative to their relationship with men. Wertmuller is certainly one of the best examples I can think of, but I am sure there are others.
In fact, I think that a close examination of Campion’s film The Piano, will reveal an equally complex view of sexual politics. Campion, in this film, is also skewering easy assumptions about romantic relationships and the notion of a ‘happy’ ending. I think she is another prime example of a woman trying to define male/female relationships from the stand point of power dynamics – more than romantic ‘love’. Gillian Armstrong in My Brilliant Career also does this, in a more conventional format, perhaps.
As for some of the posters that uphold the idea that there are no women to equal a Welles, a Bergman, or a Kubrick, I will just say that there are no men, either. Each of these directors was a unique visionary – without equal from either other male or female directors. Saying that should in no way diminish the accomplishments of the brave women whose praises we sing on this, and other, threads. I will say it again: each filmmaker is unique, with his or her own vision. We should look at each one individually – not in comparison with others. I have already gone into the question of what constitutes ‘authentic’ artistic vision, and won’t repeat that argument again.
We are right back to the question that is at the heart of this thread: why do competent, excting, and innovative female directors still get less recognition than their male counterparts? Justin is asking this question – and giving us the answer – so just read and think about his posts and examples. Don’t compare apples to oranges – in this case male to female directors – as happens so many times on these threads.
Oh, and do see Swept Away and Seven Beauties (Criterion – where are you?) to understand why we are trying to promote this amazing and hard-hitting director – who is still with us today – and still not getting the recognition she deserves. Go figure!
How about i conduct a poll of favourite films by women? I’d been considering this anyway, but i was unsure if it might just add to the sectioning off problem. In the recent overall Auteurs poll that drew me to the site, women fared very badly. I agree the issue of perception- and publicity and promotion- are crucial, what women are already achieving deserves more attention and credit, it’s just that Justin’s examples are simply not the ones i would give, that may be my blind spot (as with some male directors others rate highly), i just don’t feel comfortable with them as an undeniable truth.
Jason, yes it’s been a male medium, but Alice Guy has been shamefully overlooked as a pioneer.
Oh and i did i mention Innocence by Hadzihalilovic, which i thought was a stunning debut, and even once rated a greater debut than Kane then had second thoughts for having rushed to foolish judgment. But anyway it raised in my mind that modesty should not be overshadowed by egotism.
The point about promotion is that if enough people repeat a film’s greatness and it’s trumpeted loudly and studied far and wide, that can become an accepted wisdom. I was thinking that when watching Germaine Dulac’s L’Invitation au Voyage, it is a striking film in how it deals with psychology of erotic desire, and with its strange backdrops. Now many might not like it, but it might also be a monumental achievement (or a minor curio). The problem has been also that opinion-formers too have been mainly men. Which is why i was annoyed by Sight and Sound still having so many male respondents in their last poll, and also the anglophone and geographical imbalance was awful.
Whoa, JV – I thought you were saying you werent going to argue any more on this thread for fear of being misunderstood? And yet you seem happily ready to aggressively attack (and misunderstand) others.
You’ve attacked Adriana and my own arguments with dismissive phrases like “stale cliches”, “losing respect for all of the female posters”, “Shame on you.” (to Adriana and myself and other female posters), “but if it makes you comfortable”, “look at all these excuses”, “like you’re part of a herd” – these are not ways to have a respectful discourse. This is paternal chiding and rhetorical bullying. Frankly – although I have seen a lot of amazing posts by you on this board and you are clearly one of the most intelligent insightful people here – you seem so caught up with being “right” that you have seem to have forgotten how to be polite.
You say we should insist women make films about “being a woman” but then say westerns and war are outside of women’s experience. You then say Adriana is trying to say women should make films “like a man”. You say >[Wong Kar Wai’s] women sometimes “think” like men, his men sometimes “think” like women.< Why do you think you know how women think, or that being a woman is so different from being a man that she can’t be used in a “like” sentence with Bergman, et al.? And yet you dismiss Adriana’s taste as repressed, as if she doesn’t even know her own mind.
So while I admire that you’re flying the flag for a certain dominion of feminism and you have made some excellent and thoughtful points, I don’t agree with you. And I don’t think that my not agreeing with you, especially when I have not unadequately defended all of my points (some of which you have still not addressed), automatically makes me some repressed idiot. There is the possibility that you may not have reality sussed. I may not have it sussed for that matter! Maybe everything I’ve been saying has been absolute tosh. But at least Bob and Adriana and everyone are making an effort to disagree while still being respectful of other people’s intelligence. Adriana has thanked you for your point, I have thanked you for the argument and said previously that I admired you for siding with women even I didn’t agree with your orientation, you however have made this into something personal. Shame on you.
I have made several points in my previous posts that you haven’t fully addressed:
> As for gender-neutrality… the whole point of ethics is neutrality, isn’t it? Must all art be gender neutral? No. Must all art by women be gender-specific? Also no. I’ll see your canard and raise you a man made of straw.
(You claim now that you don’t insist women make “women’s films” — although previously you made this exact claim — but you keep insisting that there are “men’s films” and “women’s films” now, so I can’t let this slide. Tell me, exactly, what is a “men’s film” and what is a “women’s film”. If we are mistakenly insisting that a woman should be making a “man’s film”, then obviously a women’s film is not just a film made by a woman? I do agree that women may not as easily get funding to get a western, but we aren’t talking about practicals here, we’re talking about your personal definition of what sort of a film a woman should be making.)
> I do think that men and women have slightly separate experiences – but I think my take on reality is probably more similar to another Brit or American person than a Chinese man is to a man from Texas. And more similar to another poet or writer than to someone who never reads and hates books. Why is my gender difference any more important than my nationality or my skin colour or my interests?
> But obviously you’re allowed to think Varda is the greatest director ever if you really and truly believe it! If you really believe Sofia is better than Francis Ford – OK, cool. I dig it. Defend it. Write blogs about it. Make me believe it too.
I have seen more claims than defense.
Usually I am not so blunt when it comes to the meta-conduct of a thread and I really do hope we can be friends. But I’m tired of being dismissed and insulted as if I were some stupid child and being nice didn’t seem to stop you so here it is, I’m being blunt.
That said, I’m still open to your defense. Tell me why watching Varda makes you feel better or more deeply than watching Bergman or Truffaut. Tell me what you see is the difference between “men’s films” and “women’s films”. I’m interested, and listening.
Drew, Sex is Comedy is great, a very personal film about Breillat’s own working methods.
I’m sorry you’re displeased. And I like you and consider you a friend. But you’re still taking a shamefully reactionary point of view here, your views on female directors are stale cliches that need to be changed, and you’re backing up your claims with obtuse, murky reasoning. Again, I never said anything about women should make women’s films and men should make men’s films. You can’t even document that allegation. I believe I was asking why male entitlement allows them a bigger canvass. And again, you’re pushing the language in the wrong direction by asking why Varda makes me feel more. I am happy leaving it as: she is as good, she makes me feel as much. So I’ll turn your question around and ask you why she makes you feel less.
I don’t intend to try to convince you with any kind of song and dance. This subject is too important to be fashionably glib, or polite for that matter. I would react the same way towards someone (especially a gay person) who believed that Gus Van Sant or Fassbinder were not the equal of heterosexual directors. Or someone who believed that Charles Burnett and Spike Lee were not the equal of white filmmakers. It’s partly about opening your heart. And eyes too of course.
Everything I have to say is there in what I’ve already posted.
Again, lots of labels and claims with no specific defense. I could just as easily claim your points are “stale cliches” backed up with “murky, obtuse reasoning”. Actually, I have claimed they were murky and obtuse, except instead of claiming that directly I actually went out to show you how why I thought they were, and left it open for you to respond. Labelling someone else’s argument this way doesn’t make it true, and it’s self-aggrandizing and against the spirit of good discourse to belittle your fellow debaters. I know plenty of kneejerk feminists, male and female, who have made similar arguments. But there is a wide spectrum of feminism out there and a lot of room for different beliefs. I have listened to your claims, I am interested in them, and I’m simply asking that you back them up with some specifics. And I haven’t until this last post said “shame on you” for your opinions, said I disrespected you, or compared you to being a unthinking herd-animal – all things you have felt perfectly fine saying to other posters including myself.
Have I said female directors are inherently less talented than male directors, once in this entire thread? No. Because I don’t believe it. What I have said is that I have yet to watch a film by an individual, who also happens to be a female director, that speaks to me personally and viscerally as an artist as much as I feel deeply and viscerally connected to most of Bresson’s ouevre or Pierrot Le Fou (which is by a director who also happens to be male). If I had no idea who directed Cleo from 5 to 7 and Pierrot Le Fou and Au Hasard Balthazar, I would still like all three, but prefer Pierrot Le Fou and Au Hasard Balthazar. I know this because I saw Cleo from 5 to 7 before I had any idea who Agnes Varda was. And this is, more or less, what I think Adriana has said as well. Perhaps there is a female director out there I have yet to experience but who is my “cinema soulmate”. I’m still looking for her and I’ll be glad when I find her. The fact that I haven’t found her yet is probably statistical. What I have said is that I agree with you that women are perhaps given less of a chance in the industry, but that I disagree with you that we should give women directors “bonus points” just because they are women – or that we should insist they make a certain type of film. I’m glad you’re on women’s side – I really and truly am. But I have been trying to articulate why it is that I think separating it out like this is just another form of sexism.
And anyway, you still refuse to answer my questions or points. If you don’t think that there are men’s films and women’s films, then tell me what sort of films you think women should be making. Because I do believe in backing up my claims, here are some things you’ve said in previous posts:
> [I don’t think] that it holds women back to insist that they make their art about being women. … What I really mean is this — we as individuals are not gender-blind or gender-neutral, so how can art be?
>The first great female director will have to be like a man? Shame on you.
So explain what you meant by that: “be like a man.” If I am misunderstanding, make me understand.
As for my “pushing language”, you said:
>again, it probably takes radical statements. a sadie benning may be more important than a james benning. an agnes varda may be more >important than a truffaut. a sofia coppola may be more important than a francis coppola (damn right i said it, all you dogmatics!). an ida >lupino may be more important than an anthony mann (couldnt resist the symbolism in his name!). again and again, until they start >sinking in and people start wondering about them, and investigating, and following suit…
OK cool — I’m wondering and investigating. Whether or not you believe Varda is better than Truffaut (I know you said “may”), you yourself couched it in this comparative language. So tell me why you think someone should believe Varda is better. Go on and champion her. I want to believe.
In other words, instead of belittling your fellow debaters, why not try and get them on your side with some clear, logical argument? :-) I think this discussion is too important NOT to.
I think there is a problem with this exchange, but it’s an interesting one. If we assume that some films are better than others (saying some directors are better than others can be said as well but it’s harder to do and, I think, not as helpful) then there must be some subjective reasons why.
In my case, at one point I thought Wertmuller was the best director around. I didn’t think this because she’s a woman or because she’s Italian or because she hung out with Fellini, all possible factors/influences. I just thought Seven Beauties was the best film I had seen. This was a long time ago and I don’t know if I would feel the same as I haven’t seen her films in a very long time. But I thought Seven Beauties was great, much better than the vast majority of the films I had seen.
So, if, in my opinion, Seven Beauties was, let’s say among my top five of all time (to use that annoying criteria) then that’s saying a lot. Either that was my true opinion/feeling or I was influenced too much by the feminists (even though Wertmuller usually isn’t liked by the feminists but let’s just say she qualifies) in my surroundings.
Either that high opinion was mine based on what I felt/thought or I was simply parroting the status quo of a left wing art school. If it is mine than I can say that later, after seeing more Tarkovsky and Fellini I changed my opinion and I think that while good, Wertmuller’s film, while much better than most films made, isn’t quite up with my favorites.
I think that according to JV’s reasoning that the first time around the opinion was mine (Seven Beauties is great) but the second, reconsidered opinion (Seven Beauties is not so great) was a reactionary cliche.
But I don’t think this holds logically. If you give me credit for the first opinion then you must give me credit for the second. If films can be said to be better or worse than others (Strangelove/In the Cut) then you must accept people when they say that for them, X film didn’t do as much for them as Y film. Adriana simply said
This is personal experience (and she’s asking for a demonstration of the reverse) and can’t be dismissed as:
IF films cannot be said to be better than others, if we must accept them all as they are and can make no judgments on them one way or the other then they are all good/bad and there is not need to discuss them further. I don’t think that is the case. Some films are better than others, some are downright bad. Some are made by women, some are made by men. Most men directors haven’t made a western or a war film and most films made by men are bad, as are film made by women. The Piano was great, In the Cut was a disaster.
The problem with Adriana’s statement might be this part: “the concept of a lack of great female directors” because it’s a general statement that would require, at least, having seen all films made by women to verify. But still, her opinion, one that I would say is not a reactionary cliche, is based on what’s she’s seen and her intellectual/emotional reaction to them and those are specific reactions to specific films. She is just trying to think through the consequences of those reactions.
“What I have said is that I have yet to see one that speaks to me personally as an artist.”
There’s no way for me to speak to this if you continue to insist that it’s true. I can only do what you call belittling or kneejerk-attack because I feel like you are refusing to open up to the possibilities of a female artist speaking to you. And I think you are far from being the only one who holds herself back in this regard.
“So explain what you meant by that: “be like a man.””
Again, you are claiming I said things I didn’t. You and others said that the first great filmmaker will have to be like a man, which is so inherently reductive and sexist that all I could say in response is to restate what you said with a question mark and then answer it by saying “shame on you.” You will never see the possibilities that exist until you break out of received sexist thinking. The great female filmmakers who already exist have done this, and I suspect this is partly what makes their work seem invalid to you — because it somehow evades a continuum and a discourse that was established to evaluate male art.
You keep saying “better than” even though I keep patiently reiterating “equal to.” Why the need for one to be superior over the other, which is also sexist and male-dominated in nature:
“So tell me why you think someone should believe Varda is better. Go on and champion her. I want to believe.”
Believe is precisely what you refuse to do. You use a false rationality as a crutch so as not to have to disturb your received ideas about who deserves to be in some ideal pantheon. The canon itself has long been recognized as a tool of oppression. For more people than just women. Take Third World cinema as an example. But if you want to know why I think Varda is just as great as her male counterparts — her films offer disturbing insights into human nature and human problems, they are honest, tough and complex, she has a remarkable eye for visual storytelling and detail, she is bright and engaged and self-controlled as an artist. There is no better study of the outsider in society than Vagabond. Cleo from 5 to 7 is as important an example of the mixing of documentary and fiction, the spontaneous lyricism of urban life, as any of the early French New Wave masterpieces.
I can talk about any number of female directors individually, but I really don’t think that’s as important as creating blanket statements in this particular discussion (not in any others, necessarily — this kind of discussion is different) because it’s as a group that women directors are being pointed out and dissed, and it’s as a group that they have to be elevated. It makes little difference if you concede grudgingly that Agnes Varda has some kind of unique pass — you’ve only created an exception to prove your “sexist” rule.
“Have I said female directors are inherently less talented than male directors, once in this entire thread? No. Because I don’t believe it.”
That’s what you have to keep repeating to yourself — in the mirror, perhaps — until it becomes like a mantra and you really do believe women are as talented as men. Because although you say you believe it in passing, everything else you say on this thread contradicts and overturns it and speaks to a deep need to put women on a lower plane than men. It’s as simple as making room for them. It doesn’t mean you have to dislike or get rid of the men. Not at all.
An opinion of a 3rd party, fence sitter:
Justin, you sound rather pretentious. I respect your commitment into typing long posts etcetera and I am not trying to imply that you are pretentious or attack your character. You sound like you are trying to defend a group that you have little involvement with and probably does not need your help in this argument. Just want to put it in that by crudely attacking others in a very personal way, you are just going to sound more like an asshole.
I apologise for saying this and I think I am going to be told that I am conforming to reactionary cliches and championing my testosterone.
Apology accepted. I’m glad you got it off your chest. I suspect this has something to do with our disagreement about Blue Velvet, though, on another thread.
I’m just putting it out there because it is probably what a good number of people are thinking. I knew this would be linked some way back to Blue Velvet, but I would like to say that I do agree that attacking the viewer and charging them as perverts is an easy tactic that is too be avoided. I reconsidered my point and decided that it was not worth posting, so no need to bring it back here.
Justin, I am just curious about something. If I were to say I preferred Bergman to Fellini you would probably say ok and the fact that Bergman is Swedish and Fellini is Italian would not be brought up. So why is it that sex matters in opinion? If someone feels that a director that just happens to be female has never equaled the great directors who happen to male, why does this have to be linked to sex instead of taste? As I said I have seen very few films by female directors but if someone who has seen more believes that none of these films were great doesn’t that have more to do with taste, not sex?
I like Nora Ephron, and her neck.
To JV’s point the original question was this:
“What I want to know is, does anyone have opinions about why there are no really GREAT female directors? And don’t get me wrong, there are very very good ones. But there is no female Truffaut, if you know what I mean… no woman who is simultaneously mentioned with Scorsese, Kubrick, Coppola, etc.”
There are two separate questions here:
Why no great directors?
Why not mentioned with Scorsese et al.
The answer to the first depends on the viewer. In my case Beau Travail is better than most of the films of Scorsese.
The answer to the second can be seen as a PR question. To mention Scorsese, Kubrick, Coppola as a group is already an ideological stance. One that is reductive and useless in my opinion. The Piano is a much better film than Rumble Fish but Campion isn’t in the pantheon because of sparsity of output. Which leads to the issue of studio blinders and PR. There are great directors, they aren’t mentioned with the usual USC/NYU crowd because of PR, not because of lack of good films. But a lot of other are left out as well.
Because it is preposterous — and it bugs me — when someone says no female director ranks with a male. When you say I like Bergman better than Fellini, you’re not making an exclusionary statement like No Italian ranks with a Swede. See the difference?
Yes ok I see the difference, but if she had seen a ton of films by Fellini, Antonioni, Bertolucci, etc. and said she felt no Italian directors ranked with Swedish directors, wouldn’t that just be an opinion?
Now the problem with this is the wording of things. I feel when she states this as an opinion it is fine, but it definitely cannot be a fact.