This Thursday marks the beginning of the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival in New York City, and it’s bound to be a thrilling two weeks in lower Manhattan. With a variety of events and screenings, Tribeca stands out as a festival that explores different types of filmmaking, especially in its inclusion of virtual reality. In light of the Me Too movement, the festival is also hosting a Time’s Up event to further the conversation about sexual harassment in Hollywood, though the festival seems to be taking initiative in including women in film with the many films by female-filmmakers featured in the line-up. This year’s festival looks to be a phenomenal one, so here are a few recommendations.
Recently, legendary director Steven Spielberg went on record stating that he believes that films premiered on streaming services like Netflix should be considered TV movies eligible for Emmys rather than Oscars. This topic isn’t new as the Cannes Film Festival has had issues with Netflix Originals. Attempting to differentiate films by their distribution, however, will lead to a dangerous, elitist territory in Hollywood.
In the current climate, there’s been a major push for more women, especially women of color, in front of and behind the camera. The conversations about more women in film often leaves out women in film criticism or commentary, so what better way to round out Women’s History Month by recommending a few female film writers who happen to be some of my favorite writers.
Last week, all I could think about was finally seeing Ava Duvernay’s latest directorial feat, A Wrinkle in Time. Despite the mixed coverage of the film, nothing was going to diminish my eagerness. Adapted from the classic novel by Madeleine L’Engle, the film follows Meg Murry, portrayed by Storm Reid, as she travels throughout the universe to find her scientist father with the help of her brother, Charles Wallace, friend, Calvin, and the extraordinary Mrs., Mrs. Which, Mrs. Whatsit, and Mrs. Who, played by Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, and Mindy Kaling, respectively. My expectations were definitely high, but DuVernay and company didn’t just deliver an entertaining movie–they delivered an experience.
In reflecting on how A Wrinkle in Time director Ava DuVernay has impacted how I see film and pursue a career as a teenager and young adult, I’ve thought about the films that influenced me the most when I was a kid. Seeing DuVernay has been a representation of what I wish I saw more of as I realized I want to pursue film, but I’ve realized that I’ve neglected a director whose work has had a vast impact on how I see film and storytelling since I was a kid–Gina Prince-Bythewood. Prince-Bythewood has made some groundbreaking independent films and yet when I see discussions about more female directors and more female directors of color, I don’t often see her mentioned.
Prince-Bythewood received critical acclaim for her directorial debut, Love & Basketball, in 2000. Starring Sanaa Lathan and Omar Epps, Prince-Bythewood’s award-winning film follows Monica and Quincy in multiple stages in their lives as they navigate reaching their athletic dreams and the love between them. The film, also written by the director, just seems like an excellent love story, but as I continued to watch it as I got older, I realized more and more that it’s really about a young woman who’s trying to sort how she can achieve her dream and have the love of her life. It’s not in a way that the man she loves is making her choose. It’s Monica’s journey of believing that she can have both–love the game and love Quincy.
When I decided that I wanted to take serious steps to work in film, directing wasn’t even a thought. I didn’t think I was creative enough or simply be good at it. Frankly, I hadn’t really heard of female directors, let alone black female directors. I knew maybe two directors by name, but female directors weren’t known on a name-basis to people outside the industry. I slowly began to consider writing but producing still seemed like the only viable option.
Then, in 2014, my dad caught my attention. He said someone he went to UCLA with directed the movie we were both excited to see, Selma, and that he remembered how hard she worked back when they were in college. So, I look her up to see what else she’s done. While I hadn’t heard of her prior work, I was amazed beyond belief. She was the first black woman to win the jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival for a film she wrote and directed, Middle of Nowhere. Before I saw Selma, I was already in awe of what she had accomplished, and once I saw the film, from the very first scene, I was mesmerized by what she could do. DuVernay’s film gave me one of my favorite moviegoing experience with my dad. She told the story of our people in a way no one else could have accomplished. Someone who looked like me doing something that some might say isn’t “for us.” And then to see her at the Oscar seemed like a validation that my dreams could come true.
When I woke up on Tuesday, February 20th and did my daily morning scroll on Twitter, I didn’t expect to be blessed with W Magazine’s latest issue on the spring fashion collections directed by three of 2017’s most talented directors–Greta Gerwig, Luca Guadagnino, and Jordan Peele. If their films didn’t show their artistry enough, Bringing insanely creative point-of-views to their respective spreads, the directors of this awards’ season’s most popular films, Lady Bird, Call Me By Your Name and Get Out, combined film and fashion’s distinct powers to create stories that seem as if only they could make it happen.