100 More Films Made By Women – Part 15 of 20

The despairs or romances of film-making are explored in this selection, the doubtful calm before the polarized storm. There’s a wedge of unrequited love and heart-led temptation thrown into the mix. Here are 5 more marvelous women and examples of their strong work.

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My Life Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn (2014) – Liv Corfixen

Danish film-maker Nicolas Winding Refn receives some advice at the opening of his wife’s documentary, that he was not thinking about success before Drive, but afterwards he was, and this can change your creativity. Liv Corfixen wanted a family man, for her and the children – there are a couple of candid discussions between the couple, that she takes care of the home and he is working all the time. Refn goes on to describe arranging his pre-production scenes for Only God Forgives like a game of chess. We later watch Refn as Ryan Gosling plays with his children. He’s not a bad husband or father, more a dedicated film director. What else is fascinating here is that although his movies tend to export a sense of over-confidence and swagger, as the shooting for Only God Forgivesbegins Refn has some clear concerns about his own method. We know now the diverse the movie took some critical pounding in places, so those worries have greater significance now. Corfixen’s inquisitive voice then may well echo through, suggesting Refn’s creativity was indeed hindered by his lack of confidence in his own work following the overwhelming success of Drive. At under an hour you can’t help feeling the director, and wife, could have pushed her own creativity and gone for the two-hour-plus mark with this insightful behind the scenes visual account. – – – Robin Write @WriteoutofLA

Speak (2004) – Jessica Sharzer

Based on the award-winning novel by Laurie Halse Anderson, Speak takes full hold of the repressed anguish suffered silently by a rape victim. Delicately directed, but never coy, by Jessica Sharzer, the high school movie with a purpose is fascinating in it’s layered execution, bringing the aftermath of such a horrid event to the surface. Back when she was 14 years-old, Kristen Stewart, who got some stick later for the Twilight movies as an actress who appears awkward and uncomfortable, makes painful alienation an art form here. Surrounded by outspoken and big-mouth teenagers – and teachers of course – Stewart’s Melinda is verbally bullied and outcast, on top of her enclosed torment, and the actress shows the doubters that she has some real talent in depth – a potential she has fulfilled in recent roles. – – – Robin Write @WriteoutofLA

Anatomy of a Love Seen (2014) – Marina Rice Bader

Marina Rice Bader’s Anatomy of a Love Seen is slow, tender, and at times somewhat tortuous. It is one of those films in which nothing really seems to happen, and yet you walk away feeling emotionally wrung out. Anatomy tells the story of two queer actresses, Zoe and Mal, who began a brief but passionate love affair while shooting a film about a lesbian couple. In the intervening months between the end of that film and the beginning of this one – the one we are watching – the two women have gone through a bitter breakup from which both are still reeling. The film’s action all takes place in a single day, as the two estranged lovers are brought together to re-shoot the film’s central love scene for broadcast distribution. While it is far from a perfect movie, Anatomy has two specific pleasures to offer film fans: a movie about making movies and a lesbian romance drama that isn’t trite. The latter is clearly the more important of the film’s triumphs, and I can’t help but feel as though Bader’s decision to frame it within a metacinematic narrative is itself a comment on the paucity of good lesbian stories being filmed these days. – – – Desirae Embree @ZeeSayre

Nowhere in Africa (2001) – Caroline Link

Written and directed by Caroline Link, adapted from the autobiographical novel by Stefanie Zweig, Nowhere in Africa is a sprawling family drama. Opening in 1938, Link really takes her time, commanding a thorough story-telling navigation, as we embark with the central Redlich family who flee Nazi Germany to a farm in Kenya. They struggle in varying ways to settle in this vast new landscape (the daughter in particular), but also gain encouragement from the African community. Link handles the themes of the pre-war Jewish status in the Kenyan setting comfortably, managing to tell a rich, enduring human story. Nowhere in Africa took the Foreign Language Film prize at both the Academy Awards and the Golden Globes. – – – Robin Write @WriteoutofLA

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Sand Dollars (2014) – Laura Amelia Guzmán

Sand Dollars (Dólares de Arena) is set around the night dance scene and the gorgeous daytime shores of the Dominican Republic, a contrasting landscape that transfers too into the relationship of the two main characters. Noeli (Yanet Mojica) is a young woman “entertaining” tourists for money, who is in a loving relationship with the much older French woman Anne (Geraldine Chaplin). Their longings are different, Noeli using Anne as a platform to a better world, whereas Anne genuinely loves this girl. Directed by Laura Amelia Guzmán and Israel Cárdenas, they explore beautifully the tormenting themes of fear of abandonment, unrequited love, and misplaced affection. Guzmán has stated she wants to make a sequel called Noelí Overseas. – – – RobinWrite @WriteoutofLA

Originally published in August 2016.

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