Women have been making great films since the silent era, although you might not know it to look at a list of the best films of all time. The American Film Institute’s top 100 famously does not include any female directors at all.
But Turner Classic Movies is helping craft a revisionist history of women in film with an epic series programmed around a groundbreaking 14-hour documentary by film historian Mark Cousins entitled ” Women Make Film: A New Road Movie Through Cinema.”
Every Tuesday night through December audiences will be treated to one hour of Cousins’ docuseries, which exhaustively examines the work of some 183 directors from around the world, narrated by the likes of Tilda Swinton, Thandie Newton and Jane Fonda. After each installment, the night continues with thematically relevant films commentary from directors like Mira Nair, Kimberly Peirce and Nicole Holofcener. In total, TCM has programmed 100 films directed by women from A (as in Dorothy Arzner ) to Z (as in Mai Zetterling ), that span 12 decades and hail from 44 countries and six continents.
Film historian and TCM host Alicia Malone, who has written books on women in film, said she was surprised by just how many films she had never seen in the programming and the documentary. Malone and fellow TCM host Jacqueline Stewart are leading discussions with some contemporary filmmakers around the evening’s programming.
“I consider myself to be someone who has made an effort to learn about movies made by women, to seek them out and to watch them whenever I can,” Malone said. “For me to find movies and filmmakers that I’ve never heard of is both maddening and thrilling.”
And she wasn’t the only one to find herself reaching for her notebook and making a list of films to watch. “Born in Flames” director Lizzie Borden said she “went into study mode.”
“I’ve been seeing excerpts and thinking, why don’t I know about this film?” Borden said. She’ll be featured on Night 10, airing Nov. 3, and focusing on melodrama, sci fi and horror. Films that evening include Ida Lupino’s rape culture-themed “Outrage” (1950), Ann Hui’s Vietnam-set “Boat People” (1982) and Lois Weber’s silent film “Shoes” (1916), about a shop girl who needs a new pair.
“’Outrage’ is an extraordinary film to watch after the #MeToo revelation,” Borden said. “Ida Lupino has always been compared to Dorothy Arzner. But she’s nothing like Dorothy Arzner. And it’s only because there have been so few visible women. It’s an unfair comparison. Her films are so interesting! She’s reflecting an inner life of women going into the ’50s.”
Borden also said the documentary has made her appreciate films she’s seen many times even more, including her friend Kathryn Bigelow ’s Oscar-winning “The Hurt Locker” (which will be airing on Nov. 10. She likened it to a film school.
“It encourages your mind to be really active,” Borden said. “I never took apart an action scene that (Bigelow) does the way Mark Cousins does or count the number of shots as he does.”
“Boys Don’t Cry” director Peirce, whose “Stop-Loss” is airing on Oct. 20 during Night Eight, is excited to showcase the breadth of experience of female filmmakers throughout history.
“It’s a miracle if you’ve seen any woman’s content,” Peirce said. “And if you know a woman’s name, that’s awesome because it means she probably made more than one movie. I don’t think I’ve met a woman artist who doesn’t know that her career should have been tenfold from what it is.”
Peirce spoke about Arzner bucking the system and going from the script department to editing to directing and making the pre-code romance “Christopher Strong” with Katharine Hepburn and about Italian filmmaker Lina Wertmüller, the first ever woman to be nominated for a best director Oscar, who produced avant garde plays and designed sets before she picked up a camera.
Sure, they may the only jobs available to them on the path to directing, but, Pierce said, the problem is also the solution: The odd jobs made them better directors.
The good news is the numbers seem to be getting better. 2019 was a “banner year” for female directors. And Cousins’ documentary and the subsequent discussions will also help advance the conversation about women directors by focusing on their art and not just statistics.
“What we can do is start to celebrate the films that we have, the filmmakers that are making these movies and also talk to them about craft, which is something female filmmakers rarely get to do,” Malone said. “Usually, and I’ve been guilty of this, we talk to female directors only about being a woman in the industry and we talk to male directors about their craft and their technique.”
Peirce, who is helping to enact change in the industry as an Academy Governor and on the leadership team of the Directors Guild, said she often finds herself on panels and in documentaries talking about being a female filmmaker.
“A lot of the living filmmakers, we’re friends with each other, we’re a support system and we’re a really beautiful community,” she said. “And we’ve all been fighting the fight to tell our stories, tell stories well and tell the stories of women telling stories.”
And now they have another ally in TCM.
Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahr
New art piece in Lacombe acknowledges roots of the land and reconciliation – rdnewsnow.com
“It is a metal sculpture of two rough grouse, with two logs; the female is sitting on one log and the male is landing at the end of the other,” explains Maureen MacKenzie, community services executive assistant with The City of Lacombe. “It was created to represent the affinity between rough grouse, but also that people have for one another. It also represents the two communities and local First Nations.”
According to a release, grouse was an imported food source for settlers and Indigenous peoples when bison populations dwindled across the prairies. The piece also pays homage to settler and Indigenous communities living and working together across Canada’s west.
MacKenzie adds The City had a robust anti-racism program planned earlier this year, but once again COVID-19 caused its postponement. The program was meant for large groups and would’ve included the blanket exercise, a 60s Scoop exhibition, and other workshops.
“The last census in 2016 indicated we have over 800 residents of Lacombe who are Indigenous, which is almost 10 per cent of our population, so it’s really important we show we’re willing to walk the walk,” MacKenzie says. “We as a city want to embrace all of our cultures, and in this instance, with truth and reconciliation in mind, our plan is to host those workshops eventually, and that’s our way of saying we’re taking action on inclusion and racism.”
‘Miweyihtowin’ was created at a cost of $18,000.
North Dakota Museum of Art reopens Tuesday with launch of 'Art in Isolation' exhibition – Grand Forks Herald
The exhibition consists of assemblages of images submitted by artists and others in 35 countries around the world, including Portugal and Russia, as well as area communities, said Matthew Anderson, the museum’s director of education.
Last spring, museum staff members issued an online invitation to people asking them to submit images of how they were expressing their creativity during quarantine.
“Thousands of images started arriving from around the world …. The images describe an outpouring of creative expression,” said Anderson, adding that the pandemic has caused unanticipated change. “Change also fuels creativity, and that is what the North Dakota Museum of Art brought to light.”
As part of the launch of the “Art in Isolation” exhibition, the museum is asking visitors to donate a nonperishable food item to give to those in need and place it in drop boxes in the entry. Anyone who is in need may pick up a food item after viewing the exhibition; all remaining items will be donated to local food banks.
The exhibition runs through Oct. 7.
Other exhibitions include “Consequences,” with artwork by Lynne Allen, a descendant of the Hunkpapa band of the Lakota on Standing Rock. In the late 1990s, after reading the journals of her great-grandmother, Josephine Waggoner, Allen began making objects that reflect the culture in those writings. These objects were crafted from paper, cut and stitched to shape and lacquered with shellac or from recycled vellum printed with images copied from Waggoner’s journals.
The museum is presenting more than 20 major prints by Allen, an internationally known printmaker, Anderson said.
The “Celebration” exhibition features artwork from the museum’s permanent collection, including Julie Buffalohead’s “Stolen Sisters,” a 4-by-18-foot, mural-sized acquisition that anchors the show. It illustrates the use of acrylic paint, ink, graphite and collage, applied to Nepalese Lokta paper, which has been used in Nepal since the 12th century to write epic tales, print mantra for use in prayer wheels and religious texts chanted by Buddhist monks.
The museum, located on the UND campus, south of Twamley Hall, has been closed to the public since mid-March when the national public health emergency, due to the spread of COVID-19, was declared.
When the facility reopens, new hours will be from noon to 4 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Sundays.
The museum will be following CDC guidelines and working with UND officials to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, Anderson said. Visitors will be required to wear face masks and encouraged to practice social distancing.
Cambodia is an inspiration for the healing power of art after a crisis – The Conversation CA
Even though history has seen different disasters and humanitarian crises, one fact remains: we try to understand what is happening by seeing how others coped, comparing our reaction to theirs. These comparisons allow us to shed light on the best practices for managing or emerging from a crisis.
We note with the COVID-19 pandemic that there is not one response to crises, but many responses that are adapted and implemented through trial and error.
At the Canadian Research Institute on Humanitarian Crisis and Aid our team was interested in a few examples where art and culture have been used to encourage development at the social, community, economic and civic level in various countries, including Haiti and Cambodia.
Cambodia is a special case. It was able to use art and culture to find a way to rebuild itself after the genocide that began in 1975 and ended with the fall of the Pol Pot regime in 1979. While the context is different, is there a way we can draw inspiration from the Cambodian example to recover from the current health crisis?
Art and culture in crisis
First of all, what do we mean by “crisis?” Are we simply referring to the health aspect?
Our government decision-makers have categorized the current period as a “war” against an invisible enemy. But a war leaves after-effects that are not only structural but social, societal and humanitarian as well. Also, as in armed conflicts, this “health war” has imposed a front line in hospitals and seniors’ residences.
In times of war, art and culture, which are important pillars of our societies, are hit hard and sometimes even strategically destroyed.
The rebirth of art in Cambodia
Cambodia has a long and rich history dating back to before the Middle Ages. It was during the golden age of the Khmer Empire (between the ninth and 13th centuries) that arts and culture became integrated into society through religion, rites and customs.
However, for recent generations, this rich Cambodian culture with its oral tradition was greatly affected by the genocide under the tyrannical Khmer Rouge regime from 1975 to 1979. At this time, arts and culture almost completely disappeared, as did nearly 20 per cent of the population (between 1.7 million to 3 million people), exterminated by Pol Pot’s dictatorship. The dictatorship fell from power in 1979. Instability and conflict remained for some 20 years.
In 1998, after Pol Pot’s last uprising in 1997, Arn Chorn-Pond founded the Cambodian Master Performer Program, which became Cambodian Living Arts, in order to restore art to its former glory. Born in Cambodia into a family of genocide survivors, he studied in the United States and worked as a social worker there for a few years before returning to Cambodia.
Today, Cambodian Living Arts brings together several hundred artists and employees working at different levels including arts education and heritage protection as well as the development of tomorrow’s leaders, markets and strong networks.
This non-profit organization uses art and culture to fulfil its mission of healing trauma, safeguarding traditions, restoring meaning to the community and training young people to contribute to the development of the country. It now has an expanded ecosystem of partners in other parts of the world.
As Phloeun Prim, the non-profit’s current executive director, explains, the destruction of cultural symbols and artifacts, such as religious and cultural sites, monuments and works of art, is an integral part of the consequences of conflict. The oppressor, be it another country or a dictator, will seek to uproot the oppressed group from its identity, culture and societal vision.
A brutal stop with the pandemic
Although it hasn’t destroyed infrastructure, the global pandemic has hit the cultural sector hard with the closure of theatres and cinemas, bans on mass gatherings and the cancelling of festivals. The performing arts, visual arts and access to heritage often appear to have been last to be considered in reopenings while workers dependent on the gig economy have lost many opportunities.
However, as we can see with the debate around opening performance venues, economic measures are not enough for everyone and do not guarantee that the public will be there. The abrupt and prolonged halt in cultural activities, as well as the prospect of a second wave of COVID-19 contamination, suggest that there will be repercussions for a long time to come. A strategy of cultural regeneration supported by our governments and strong institutions, such as the Cambodian Living Arts in Cambodia, should be considered.
This regeneration work was essential for Cambodia’s recovery. Added to this was the need to transmit culture in order to rebuild bridges between generations, between individuals and between institutions. To share one’s art orally does not only mean passing on know-how. It also means passing on people skills.
By teaching his art, the master transmits his identity to the other. And the student has the duty to appropriate this knowledge in order to take it further and create his own interpretation of the symbols. This is what creates more resilient societies.
Today, Cambodian Living Arts continues to invest in current and future cultural leaders. They are the ones who will have to rebuild in the new post-crisis environment, where interactions, communities and identities will no longer be the same.
Reaching out to the public
At home in Québec, for example, we see local initiatives. TD Bank and Vidéotron have partnered to present musical performances on outdoor stages, in a “drive-in movie” format, where spectators can enjoy the event in their vehicles.
Others choose to travel to people. This is the case of the Théâtre de la Ville, in Longueuil near Montréal, which offers a travelling program of three shows. In this way, art met the public, a bit like street theatre, at the beginning of the confinement. Similarly, Le Festif, in Charlevoix, offers immersive listening sessions outdoors.
Teaching and propagating culture is about coming together and finding each other. Moreover, as noted by the UNESCO International Bureau of Education, every human being is capable, through art, of re-establishing their link with society.
Finding a new normal
Our approach to art, culture and artist-citizen interactions will change in the new post-COVID reality. We will have to relearn, trust each other and then let ourselves forge new ways while respecting the rules.
A study by Habo studio shows that the return to “normalcy” in the consumption of the arts is not coming soon. It will take at least until 2021 (and perhaps 2022, according to some decision-makers in the field) before attendance levels return to pre-COVID levels, at least for the Montréal region.
As Québec’s rules for indoor and outdoor gatherings now vary regionally, the cultural sector continues to explore virtual or outdoor alternatives, and stay attuned to health regulations. Like us, it will be seeking to define its new normal.
Phloeun Prim, Executive Director of Cambodian Living Arts, co-authored this story.
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