I talked yesterday about the upcoming 7th annual International SWAN Day (Support Women Artists Now). I’m going to talk about my experiences with my first SWAN Day. This day is important to me since I really believe in the mission of WITASWAN. It’s important to try to support all viewpoints in the arts. I felt that my work with SWAN Day was the beginning of my own activism.
In 2009, I worked with WITASWAN founder Jan Huttner for the 5th annual Chicago SWAN Day and the 2nd annual International SWAN day. (SWAN day started in Chicago before it became international). We brought Nancy Savoca, director of True Love and 24 Hour Woman, to come to Chicago.
We originally wanted to show 24 Hour Woman since it starred Rosie Perez. Moreover, the movie directly dealt with women’s experiences since it was about a woman trying to have a career, a family, and sanity. However, we couldn’t screen it because Nancy Savoca didn’t have a copy of her own film. No other copies of the reels could be found. It really spoke volumes about women in the film industry; a relatively recent film by a female director was not catalogued for future use. All we have is the VHS.
So we showed True Love instead. It was about a Italian American couple on the eve of their wedding. It was a story about the ordinary people dealing with maturity, love, and family. In an interview, Nancy Savoca “hopes that “the audience can experience those dilemmas and see themselves in the movie–no matter how different, on the surface, they may be from their own characters.” What a delightful film! People really responded to the film into the lives of these young people. We had a Q&A with Nancy Savoca afterwards, which was fun. It was really a splendid afternoon.
And that’s just the beginning.
So in the spirit of SWAN day, I’m going to recommend two films by female directors. You should go and see them ASAP because they are amazing.
The first is Nina Paley’s Sita Sings the Blues. It’s one of my top ten favorite movies. It is an animated film based on the Hindu epic of the Ramayana. It is the story from the viewpoint of Sita. . The tagline for the film is “The Greatest Break-up Story Ever Told.” Nina Paley employs 4-5 different styles of animation. One of my favorite parts of the film are the constant songs of Annette Hanshaw, a delightful 1920s singer, who is featured throughout. Sadly, there was some issues with copyright so Nina Paley couldn’t make money off of her own film. So she has allowed people to watch it for free. You can see it here: http://www.sitasingstheblues.com/watch.html
Another amazing film from another part of the world is Maria Victoria Menis’ Camera Obscura. It’s a film about the Jewish community in rural Argentina. It’s about a woman who is ignored and forgotten by everyone including her own husband and children. However, she has an awakening when a photographer comes into town. Now, it’s not an Argentine version of The Bridges of Madison County. It’s more than that. It is a look at the rural Jewish community and has incredible surrealist animated sequences, which I think were a nod to Luis Buñuel.
So go and see these films. Or go and see other films by woman as recommended by Jan Huttner in her blog The Hot Pink Pen.