My Cinematic Love Letter to 2018

Jean Reno in Léon: The Professional (1994)

With today’s onslaught of viewing options from Netflix to digital rentals, and downloadable purchases of media, it makes me stop and miss the once fashionable art of walking into a video rental store exploring the plethora of options. It’s great we have the internet and all but the simple act of holding an actual dvd in hand or going to the actual movies among an audience will always feel more gratifying. As a culture, society has adopted the notion of movie going as a universal language that will never die out because we love being entertained. I believe in some small way we can always find ways to relate or explain something through movies as its the simplest act of storytelling that connects us.

Personally, I believe the act of movie going is like going to church. There’s a reverence in sitting down quietly to introspect, enjoy, and fully submerge myself in the art form of film. Essentially, the theater is like a holy place and I’ll never forget a film instructor from college many, many, many years ago writing in his syllabus about respecting the holy place. I do recall in something to the effect of:

One shall not talk during the film,

thou shall not eat or drink in the holy place,

nor thou shall not play with any electronic devices in the holy place.

It’s the basic principle of eliminating all distractions and that always stuck with me. Some might say that’s a bit extreme or snobby but I don’t care. Perhaps it’s the very principle that shaped me into the cinephile I am today because I love tackling films, and creating thorough think pieces about my experiences while simultaneously attempting to create some kind of sense of yesterday and today’s films with my own personal touch. I’ve developed into a connoisseur of movies and cinema being an integral part of our culture, it demonstrates a need to understand what our humanity is, what’s infiltrating it, and inspiring it to be an affective communicating connection to our questions or perhaps the simple need of escapism while our reality sometimes tends to hinder certain freedoms. We can always go to the cinema to dream, and partially partake in feeding our psyches into something that may or may not blossom into motivation, inspiration, and introspection in how we relate or even change as a result of it. Ah the power of cinema. C’est la vie!

Being a cinephile living in Los Angeles is a dream, almost like dying and going to cinema heaven. I am very grateful for the people who make such programming accessible and alive with so many theaters it establishes a sense of community making it less lonely in a city so in love with itself. It celebrates itself every single chance it can get. Anything from a restoration to an ultimate classic, to experimental, to foreign, or brand spanking new I will go to the actual movies to experience it. I believe this was the biggest year for me in the sense of actually going to the movies. Each experience was unique and I’m incredibly grateful for being able to attend as many showings as I could. My most favorite and memorable experience was being able to watch VIVA with Anna Biller doing a Q&A in person after the screening at Mount Loyola Marymount University. I love when filmmakers are there in person to discuss their work. It makes it feel more intimate and I cherish that sentiment. So, without further ado ( and in no particular order) I am sharing my most favorite cinematic experiences of 2018. Most of these were not released in 2018, albeit that will be in another list to follow sometime in the future.

 

La Coquille et le Clergyman (The Seashell and the Clergyman)

Germaine Dulac,1928

UCLA Billy Wilder Theater

Provocative imagery, subversive, a fragmented visual style. Dulac was a disrupter far beyond her years. When you watch the opening sequence it just blows my mind away that this was shot in the late 1920s. The caliber of her visual style surpassed the ideals at a time when it wouldn’t probably be deem inappropriate. She questions politics, religion, and sexuality all captured in this vivid dream that melds into some impressive optical illusions.

Saving Brinton

Tommy Haines, Andrew Sherburne, 2017

Santa Monica Lamelle

An absorbing documentary of Michael Zah’s quest to save a rare film collection and the struggle in keeping history alive. An absolute must see if you’re a nerd for film preservation, historian, and lover of lost films. I came very close to meeting this man in person. If anything this film really sealed the deal in my personal fascination for preserving, archiving, film. The lengths to which Zah goes to keep this history alive is admirable and when he shares it with his communities and communities abroad it’s true magic. He’s like a traveling curator, knowledgeable in multiple facets, with his on the go museum. Profound, heartwarming, and uplifting.

Viva

Anna Biller, 2007

Loyola Mount Marymount University

Little did I know during the screening, I was sitting next to two actors from THE LOVE WITCH, which Anna Biller had to point out during her Q&A after the showing. I was a deer in headlights. VIVA delivers a refined look into the sexual revolution from a homemaker’s perspective and through her experience delivers a personal revelation. Highlighted in blatant colors of the 70s, humor, and campy fun full of retro liberation for the eyes. Biller stars, writes, and directs this magnificent triumph. All hail this cinematic goddess.

Człowiek z Marmuru (Man of Marble)

Andrzej Wajda, 1977

Armer Theater, Cal State Northridge University

The opening sequence had so much gumption, and the music really gives it an extra kick. Andrzej Wajda’s storytelling of a bricklayer in Poland while simultaneously a documentarian’s perseverance to tell his story has a very delightful meta feel to it. Historical 70’s in Poland, instability, an uprising but also the perseverance of a filmmaker’s spirit to tell a story, to find all the pieces and to make something of it for it to all collapse before it even had a chance to be something. Filmmaking is a risky trade

Suspiria

Luca Guadagnino, 2018

AMC Century City

My favorite horror film of 2018. The most harrowing aesthetic is its subversive tone and sound design going beyond the confines of what the original story had done. It has depth, ingenuity, and it’s bloody. Perhaps too pretentious for some but it’s power resides in risk and originality which highlights it’s uncompromising nature utilizing witches, 1970s elements, and grotesque horror to build it’s momentum in allowing it’s audience to feel the emotions of disgust, to dread, to terror, and some offbeat moments of amazement.

The Blackkklansman

Spike Lee, 2018

Pasadena Lamelle

Realizing the day I watched this film was the one-year anniversary of Heather Heyer’s tragic death in the Charlottesville attack to which the film is dedicated to. It’s a polarizing, yet formidable look into the destructive American facade unraveling its relentless history attributing certain pieces of cinema from the past baring witness to its own atrocities. I hope this films receives some recognition because it really does feel like a punch to face in the last five minutes where Spike Lee really delivers one hell of a message.

The Other Side of the Wind

Orson Welles, 2018

North Hollywood Laemmle

Felt like ZABRISKIE POINT meets Shakespeare opening a time capsule of the tumultuous 70s era while dissecting the complex business of filmmaking. It’s bumpy and challenging to follow at times but John Huston’s performance is compelling and Oja Kodar is simply electric. In many ways her beauty is it’s own aesthetic in the film. It’s fleeting, it’s gritty, it’s artsy and I feel like this would have been Welles’ magnum opus and those who resurrected and took this film to the finish line, thank you!

 

Roma

Alfonso Cuarón, 2018

North Hollywood Laemmle

Difficult at times, demanding your patience but also the black and white is a contrast to a vivid childhood memory film. Personal and heartbreaking and beloved who share sentiments to such a past. Something about it reminds me of a stark painting that makes you confront something you may not necessarily want to.

 

2001: A Space Odyssey

Stanley Kubrick,1968

Arclight, Hollywood

I’ve been waiting my whole cinephile life to witness this with my mind, body, and soul. And in 70mm print. Historic gold. It’s one of the best films to experience in theaters because the level of imagination to bring this magnum opus to fruition is downright impressive and inspiring to how far you can push the filmmaking barrier of creativity. I love stories about space and the exploration of the universe hindered with existential questions.

 

Hereditary

Ari Aster, 2018

North Hollywood Laemmle

Decadent slice of horror bordering with the clash of hilarity and nervous bewilderment. Sinister hell fire, perhaps a cult classic for decades to come. I thoroughly enjoy dissecting horror films and this was a treat with varying tricks up it’s sleeve.

And an honorable mention:

The Guest

Pearl Bowser,1977

Portland, Oregon

I was fortunate enough to attend the AMIA conference in Portland this year which is where film archivists share and celebrate their finds. Being a baby in this arena it opened my eyes to a bigger world of possibility. Pearl Bowser, an African American cinema pioneer had a peculiar style but I enjoyed learning about her work.

I’m excited for the upcoming year as I will be searching for more, obscure, marvelous, challenging films in 2019. It’s always a surprising, sometimes luck-of-the-draw kind of journey when stumbling across more films while trying to keep an open mind.

Cheers!

Marissa the Cinephile

Rule Breaker, Complexity in Monotony: Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles

I once read on the side of a building the phrase, “Create art not monotony” which I find problematic because one can also find art in monotony. Such is the case in Chantal Akerman’s, Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles. I’ve never been so transfixed by someone methodically preparing veal before viewing Jeanne Dielman. Its hypnotic, mind blowing, life changing and kind of cryptic, yet I’m stubbornly at odds with it. On the surface, this is an art film where nothing appears to happen and this probably pissed off mainstream moviegoers back in its day while others praised it. Jeanne Dielman is a metronome and the rhythmic melody of her life is riveting. Now without going down the weary road of cross-eyed, mind boggling, womanhood ideologies, I can’t help but feel this film is synonymous to a Marina Abramovic performance piece called House with the Ocean View. This might seem like a stretch to some, however its predominant subject matter is about creating a work that ritualizes simple everyday actions and how that manifests in a particular state of mind. This performance was created in 2012 which was after Jeanne Dielman but is certainly heavenly knowing works of this caliber appear to resonate even to this day specifically cultivated by female artists.

So in returning to my exploration of female filmmakers, this grandiose masterpiece by Belgium film director Chantal Akerman may be challenging to the average viewer. This is a piece saying something about something and that something is ambiguous. Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles title is an address which is also a three hour and twenty-one-minute film that commands your undivided attention. It’s a film about the day to day routine of a single widow, Jeanne (played by the sensational Delphine Seyrig) raising her teenage son, Sylvain while being a full time homemaker and a secluded prostitute to provide a stable income. The story spans the length of three days where the subtlety of her routine morphs into something viscerally unexpected. As a viewer we learn in the first 10 minutes, that she’s a prostitute without actually having to witness her having sex. It’s alluded to and its brilliant, but also kicks off her daily routine from straightening the bed, giving herself a bath, scrubbing the bathtub after her bath, then preparing dinner, to having dinner with her son and as this whole regimen transpires we’re left wondering what is this all leading up to?

Essentially, this film is about Jeanne’s routine but also how that structured life falls apart. On one hand it’s about dominating every aspect of one’s life, filling in every detail of every minute of a person’s being with a task, a chore, which ultimately results in being distracted from the bigger question. Why does Jeanne need so much control? Is she someone who needs constant activity and distraction to sway her away from an emptiness and perhaps the existential shadow that lingers in her psyche? Maybe. It’s a profound depth I can’t quite juxtapose to any other filmmaker and given this is from a female perspective certainly accentuates the banality of domesticity. It makes the feminists’ label this a feminist film, because how repressing it is for women to be homemakers, slaving their entire existence catering to men. Perhaps. But the aura it leaves on me is that of a woman who is dead inside, struggling to live, yet intuitively provides, while being a mother who’s simply on her own. She has no interest in remarrying, finding love, or finding purpose within in a man’s eyes because given the time period this takes place in, most men viewed women as the domesticated homemaker even long after the war. She’s her own kind of independent woman disguised as a homemaker. It’s allusively intelligent however, the prostitution is some kind of metaphor which has hindered me from fully embracing this film. AND, I’ve been losing sleep over this because I can’t figure it out. Its been boggling me for weeks until the other night it hit me like a wave of unpredictable flash blacks, triggering something I didn’t necessarily subjectively want. Setting my personal absorption aside, the word vulnerability struck me down. Jeanne Dielman is not submissive to vulnerability which is why the ending has me confounded until I realized, Jeanne Dielman would rather destroy the things that make her vulnerable. You really see the struggle in her expression at the final seven-minute scene of the film, as she sits with herself in the dining room overcome with a reality she can no longer control. SPOILER ALERT!!! A man made her orgasm and she killed him. We’ll never know the thoughts behind this character’s actions but the mystery it provokes is tantalizing. A woman living in a detached state of mind can’t handle the onslaught of emotions provided by a heavy release of oxytocin which perhaps clashes against her rationality allowing her feel good endorphins temporarily possessing her to insanity. It’s a stretch, but its all I’ve got to explain this heavy climatic ending or simply I need to study more Akerman films. Probably the latter.

In an interview with Camera Obscura, Akerman stated, “I do think it’s a feminist film because I give space to things which were never, almost never, shown in that way, like the daily gestures of a woman. They are the lowest in the hierarchy of film images. A kiss or a car crash comes higher, and I don’t think that’s accidental. It’s because these are women’s gestures that they count for so little.” I’m sure the last sentence resonates deeply for many feminists. However, I’m certainly obsessed with the ending and wish I could find a quote or an article where Akerman discusses that. The most astonishing shot of this whole film is what happens before the climax, how everything fits within a single frame and even all the action that takes place within that one shot is incredible. Its well worth the three plus hours.

My other thoughts pertaining to Jeanne being dead inside, as you briefly learn about her back story and the tragedy attached to it it seems overwhelming for any living being to endure. Surviving grief by shutting down or simply not participating in all that life has to offer in fear of enduring the same kind of grief all over again. It’s a cycle, the dance that life is for most living beings. Contrary to Jeanne, she’s detached, complacent, alone, but still thrives to live, be in control, and take care of her son. There’s always a reason to live right? Down to how she consistently keeps her composure from scene to scene given the absence to any kind of emotion is nonexistent in her world. I don’t know if that means she’s strong from within or extremely competent in guarding herself.

The complexity of Jeanne’s life is disguised in simplicity and monotony for reasons the audience may never know except suspect there maybe a certain pain or grief or an inability to embrace her own humanity. Nonetheless, through her exterior she embraces the ability to care, giving meticulous attention to her duties, giving time to patient complacency certainly reveals quite a bit about her character. It’s a delicate balance of being woven into the present moment knowing that whatever fear she holds within is always in the background of her life. Which makes me return to that ending, as it can be interpreted in various ways. So I end with my struggle in interpreting the ending of this film with two questions. Was it all a metaphor to undermine the oppression of women by destroying man’s ability to repress women or was it simply a woman able to live a life independently without utilizing a man with the exception of using him for sex? And if that’s the case, it certainly opens the field for deeper analyzation. Perhaps, I’ll travel down that rabbit hole another day but for now my brain is overheating in this blazing July weather. Cheers for now!

The Queasy Dream

I had a very intense dream last night, after watching I DON’T FEEL AT HOME IN THIS WORLD ANYMORE and it may have had somewhat of an influence. However, I can faintly see pieces of the Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle in there as well. Weird, weird, weird, right? I had to write about it once I woke up, trying not to forget the details. It felt very cinematic. So here’s what I remember. Enjoy!

I’m walking in the rain. It’s foggy and I can’t quite see in front of me. Everything is a grayish-white haze, but I hear a truck coming up from behind me. It passes and stops just ahead of me. An arm swings open the passenger side door. Uneasy, but cautious I step forward. As I see the driver, I’m suddenly calmed because I recognize the man.

(I’m going to leave actual names out here, because this individual is someone I know in real life. In this instance, I shall call him John.)

I smile at John as he smiles back, asking if he can give me a ride. I shrug my shoulders and say, “Sure why not, I’m probably walking in circles out here anyways.” I climb in and we drive off. At some point we’re sitting in traffic. Cars are at a standstill. John mentions he had a dream about me. In his dream he says we had kids together. Instead of being freaked out, I ask what our kids’ names were and if they looked more like me or more like him. He laughed.

At this point I’m staring out the windshield and notice this massive truck that says “wide load” on the back of it, violently swaying in a very unusual way, like something is trying to escape. Suddenly the sounds of a chainsaw surge and it’s coming from the truck up ahead. People are starting to get out of their cars. Whatever this thing is, it unleashes complete havoc and people are all reacting in various strange ways. Some people are being sliced in half, some are being sucked out of the stratosphere, some our just floating in mid air, and people’s heads are exploding. John gets out of the truck and projectile vomits himself to death. Other people are smashing themselves against the cars as if radiation or whatever has scrambled their nervous system, brain motor function. They can’t control themselves. I get out of the truck, trying to figure out what to do next but suddenly my vision starts to fade along with my hearing. I feel like I’m going to faint, but I don’t. It’s like I’ve magically transported or (perhaps teleported) to the next scene. I’m in a strange laboratory. The lights are flickering. The power is being conserved in someway or maybe it’s on it’s last leg of generating electricity. I don’t know. I’m with a group of people like it’s some tour, except we’re heading to a weird platform and who do I see in a lab coat, with glasses, and a beard? Pierce Brosnan. And he’s no James Bond but some kind of obsessed scientist working on a something that’s clearly having an affect on humanity?

(Here’s where I see the Cat’s Cradle motif or perhaps how I’m currently envisioning the character of Felix Hoenikker being portrayed. It’s manifesting in my dreams. Strange, right?)

Brosnan is so encompassed with his work, all of his workers and followers treat him like he’s this glorious God, who in fact is playing God but is oblivious to the consequences it’s having on people. I make some correlation here that whatever he’s creating is destroying humanity against it’s will and I apparently say this out loud. He stares me down, with a dead silent stare. He hands over this mini fetus type thing to his lab aide, who’s actually Charlize Theron from Aeon Flux. I get the stare down from her too. She carefully takes the fetus thing and enters this tank full of what appears to be animatic fluid. I say something like, “I’m not even going to ask what she’s doing with that. This place is baddy.”

At this point, Brosnan takes me by the wrist angrily and nearly drags me down this eerie, damp hallway, doesn’t say a word. I’m freaked out. We get in an elevator and head down. I’m trying to figure out how to save myself from this creep, but am too scared to move. The elevator doors open and we walk into this enormous room that stretches what seems to be for miles. There are several rows of each of these mini fetus creatures all in fragments, some are assembled, some are missing parts, but it’s like a skewered assembly line. Brosnan pushes me into a seat in front of some fetus parts. As I look closer, I noticed their all made out of clay, with tiny bones. Brosnan sits besides me and says I’m going to show you how to sculpt their skeletal framework. At this point something sounds like it’s breaking through the walls. It gets louder and more intense. Pieces of the wall start to break apart, followed by pieces of the ceiling come crumbling down, like it’s an earthquake or we’re about to be taken over by something beyond our control. I start to get up, because I wanna run for my life, but Brosnan sternly shouts, “Sit down, it’s about to be finished.”

THE END.

Moral of the story, don’t read Cat’s Cradle before bed especially when your mind is so heavily absorbed in it because you’ll wake up in a cold sweat, with a headache. This is probably the most intense dreams I’ve had in a long while. It also felt very cinematic that I had to quickly jot it all down and share. This may prompt me to write an X-Files spec script.

My Love Letter to THE PIANO

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What’s so mesmerizing about Jane Campion’s THE PIANO (1993) is this feminist mindset captured by the lens tethered to vivid imagery and subtle language translated in strange silences, hand gestures, and facial expressions along with a compelling soundtrack that hypnotizes the mind into a strange, euphoric lull of bewilderment and sometimes frustration because it leaves this creeping essence of a melody that permits no escape nor can it be ignored. It’s a period piece, it’s a dark love story, there’s passion, there’s soul wrenching music, it’s erotic, it takes place on an island in New Zealand alongside the Maori tribe, it’s stylistically astonishing, it’s mysteriously magical, I mean the list goes on and on as to why I’m so enamored by this film.
The magic remains mysterious and there’s a simple reason why I’m irrevocably drawn to this film, Ada (Holly Hunter) selectively chooses to be a mute and as a unit of her expression passionately plays the piano. The piano is her voice. This resonates heavily with me personally, because at the age of 5 I was selectively mute. (Just ask my mom) I was the only kindergartener without a speaking voice, and I can’t even explain why I choose not to speak, I mean technically I did but it only resulted into whispering. Yeah I was a weird kid, but who isn’t?
Aside from my personal admiration for this film, there is a surplus of elements that I’m constantly interpreting every time I view this film whether it be in camera angles, mood, lighting, coloring, or even the cryptic dialogue that unveils certain mannerisms behind a character, I can marvel, oh and ah this film to the end of time. This is of course a period piece, a love story, flirting with expressionistic nuances of dark, erotic, and sometimes horrific themes all streamlined with the lives of the characters. Campion paints a world so meticulously and prolifically, about a woman who simply lives for her music while bound to an arranged marriage she never asked for which is heightened when her piano gets sold to George Baines (Harvey Keitel). She’s robbed of her freedom as a woman bound to the chains of a loveless marriage, but also of her expression from another man who uses her piano as collateral delving into the erotic throes of sexual lust. Ada is reluctant to play such a game but is essentially drawn in for her love knows no bounds when it comes to playing her piano. It becomes a very intriguing cat and mouse game which is further complicated by her husband Alisdair (Sam Neil) and her daughter Flora (Anna Paquin). She has her duties as a wife and a mother but would rather be expressing herself through the notes of her piano as an outsider, a lone she-wolf but also finds love in George Baines who essentially accepts her for who she is.
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There are scenes so prominent and dramatic such as the moment Alisdair’s anger unleashes emotional havoc on Ada’s opposition to his advances which literally results in him chopping her finger off. Such an intensely and provocatively captured scene is heightened when we realize Flora is traumatized screaming, witnessing this in horror as the blood splatters across her. There’s rain, mud, rage, bewilderment and encapsulating such a dismal atmosphere as the camera lingers on Ada as she slowly sinks into the sludge clutching her bloody hands together, quietly taking in the wretched desolation of this agonizing moment. Alisdair later whispers to her while tending to her care, “I simply clipped your wing.” What’s even more electrically horrifying is he hands the finger to Flora telling her to take it Baines. A child literally running off into the rain with a severed finger, crying all the way there how insane is that? It’s my favorite sequence for how violently, and strenuously these immense emotions clash together like some tantalizing dance that lures you in as a moth is drawn to a flame.
Campion choose a different ending from her original idea where Ada’s character transcends its shell of muteness and in the end chooses to live instead of relying on her piano so heavily. This is beautifully capture when she intentionally places her foot into the pile of robe as she demands the Maori boats men to throw her piano overboard as she sails away from the island. Her body is literally flung overboard with the piano plunging deep into the ocean. However, she’s later brought back to the surface, in a breathtaking overhead shot, in slow motion as she gasps for air. It’s a new beginning where she actively decides to pick up the pieces and cultivates a new life for herself. It’s an ingenious and eloquent moment brought to life on film. I ooze with fascination every time I watch that sequence and the cherry on top is how Campion ties in Thomas Hood’s poem “Silence” fairly nicely with the stanza: “There is a silence where hath been no sound. There is a silence where no sound may be in the cold grave, under the deep deep sea.”
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THE PIANO is moving and I can’t even articulate why, as it’s a feeling that surpasses explanation but acknowledges recognition of reverence to the pathos of one’s struggle to maintain identity among the reality of being a woman, a lover, a wife, and a mother. Roger Ebert even wrote: “The Piano is as peculiar and haunting as any film I’ve seen” and “It is one of those rare movies that is not just about a story, or some characters, but about a whole universe of feeling”.
Watch the film, listen to the soundtrack, fall in love with this wickedly, intrinsically dark romance of a story. I can go on and on and probably will in a future blog post but will stop for now. It bewitched my heart years ago, and still does to this day forever being my most favored film.

"Fragments" I wrote a poem.

Night’s breath whispering

upon my naked ears

translating a sky of ecstasy

I linger in the ethereal

of ridicule and grace

but my lips conceal

a smile like the Mona Lisa.

I have no memory of your words

only feelings

that lead me astray

into a dismal panic attack

of sputtering smoke

from a crappy cigarette.

Its just me and the moon now

gliding our way down

a dormant city street at 2am

I cannot sleep

it’s an illusion

it has beaten me

with a gnawing fatigue

disguised of lonesome attributes

a longing to be neither here nor there

but to survive something I can’t quite explain.

Perhaps, ambiguity is my mask

parading its soft gaze

and quiet nature

for something that can’t

be bought or exchanged.

Making sense never fit me

I’m not a cookie cut woman

imprisoned by domesticity

but a woman sailing away

in a vacant sea

where my shadow only knows me.

I don’t understand today

and probably not tomorrow

but people hide in a tranquil state

of vibrations and electronic data

deprived of ingenuity

governed by insecurity

and defined by instinctual competition.

My eyes hurt at the world I see

it’s draining and frightening

and combative with incessant

objections and proclamations

There is no reverse

only forward

tip-toeing

dragging its feet

in the dark like some drunkard

sleeping in a junkyard bath

regurgitating a volatile ballad

of denial and circumcised hope

The fog’s settling in

and night’s breath has turned damp

perhaps transfixed

and reckoned for a mournful sunrise.

An Interview with Courtney Daniels

In continuing my coverage on women in the entertainment industry, I got the chance to chat with Courtney Daniels, an actress and producer for production company Busted Buggy Entertainment. Daniels comes from a classical background from the British American Drama Academy in the UK. She’s acted in films such as The Girl in the Book, Magic Hour, and most recently Rescue Dogs. One of Busted Buggy’s main focus is on female driven content which currently includes a web series in production called OR DIE TRYING that was developed by producer Sarah Hawkins. It was helped by Seed and Spark, a crowd funding site allowing for new voices to emerge. According to Courtney on breaking ground in the industry and supporting the project, “I think it’s a great story, female starring, female written, female directed, and female produced. That’s the only way we will break into this industry and make our voices heard: making sure we do it together.”

You can check out updates from the project here:

https://www.seedandspark.com/fund/or-die-trying#updates

Among other works, Courtney has helped produce includes, The Girl in the Book which was written and directed by Marya Cohn which tells an empowering story that could encourage women who had suffered sexual abuse/assault to reclaim their power and their voice, and to not be defined by that event. As we look at current headlines today, the film resonates a chilling aspect about our society and what we’re continuously dealing with women and abuse such as the Stanford/ Brock Turner case. In a strange way, The Girl in the Book, has a similar connotation to the controversial book Lolita in a few ways. I imagined what Lolita would be like after the sexual abuse and what kind of woman she’d become in the present day. The dynamic of an older man sexually abusing a younger girl is never an easy subject matter to handle, but Girl in the Book handles it in some very interesting ways. You can check out The Girl in the Book on Netflix.

But as far as working with male and female directors every person has their style, has their way of working and ultimately it comes down to encouragement according to Daniels, “Working with experienced guys, who encourage female filmmakers is also a strong way to exact change on the industry. The He-for-She concept is also an important one to support, and take advantage of when possible.”

Courtney has also produced and starred in a film called RESCUE DOGS which premiered this year that correlated with her passion for storytelling and rescuing animals. The film tells the story of talking dogs featuring real rescue animals. During the release they were able to host live adoptions which help gave more than 150 animals new homes. How cool is that?

Women continue to strive for their dreams, making movies, and running production companies. According to the Directors Guild of America, 6.4% of Hollywood films were made by women in 2013 and 2014. And only 1% of movies were made by women from ethnic minority backgrounds. 1% Let that resonate for a moment. If we look back at the history behind women in the early 50s such as Lucille Ball, who was a pioneer in co-owning Desilu Productions as well as her own company later down the road. She made things happen by sticking to her guns and great cleverness. Or if we look even earlier than that and see what Mary Pickford did for the studios. We still have a longer road ahead of us and as long as there are women out there cleverly striving to have their work shown the more optimism I have for the future. Its inspiring women such as Courtney Daniels and her production company Busted Buggy are making their way and striving to empower women paving the way to breaking the barrier.

To follow Courtney Daniels and her production company, check out her website here:

http://www.bustedbuggy.com