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Girls on film, again.

Girls on film, again. (photo)

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The year can’t end until someone writes an essay decrying the lack of female directors, both in Hollywood and worldwide. This year, the honors go to the New York Times‘ Manohla Dargis, with the bluntly titled “Women in the Seats but Not Behind the Camera.”

The statistics, as usual, are damning: Dargis points out precisely how many H’wood films this year directed by women — out of 600 or so movies released in New York this year, about 10% were female directed.

But the article’s also full of unpacked assumptions and declarations. For starters: is “Precious” really “the most passionately debated women’s picture in memory”? What makes it a “women’s picture” (and if the subject is female directors, what are we make of gay male director Lee Daniels)? Is it really true that the financial success of “New Moon” and “The Blind Side” is “good for women in film”? If so, why? Has conventional wisdom really dictated for years “that women don’t go to the movies and can’t open movies,” and if so, why do chick flicks exist?

In comparing the respective careers of Michael Mann and Kathryn Bigelow, isn’t it relevant that Bigelow’s financial track record in the ’90s and ’00s (specifically, the triple-fails of “Strange Days,” “The Weight of Water” and “K-19: The Widowmaker”) and lack of a huge, defining success at least in part explain her struggles (compared to Mann’s relatively profitable ’90s streak) and his success as much as institutional sexism? And how is it exactly that “The vogue for comics and superheroes has generally forced women to sigh and squeal on the sidelines”? Aren’t there female geeks too?

This is the part where I tell you that I’m not actually sexist (something you’d hope would go without saying, but you never know) and that I understand and care about what Dargis is getting at. I’m just saying it’s time for this annual essayistic ritual to take a new leap into the land of pure journalism.

12112009_clairedenis.jpgFor example: Dargis dismisses the kind of arthouse movie she likes (and I do too!) as something “I bet you never heard about, much less saw, most of them,” but it dawned on me that six out of my nine favorite working female directors were French. And yes, those numbers are alarmingly small, but: what’s up with that statistical disproportionately? France isn’t generally noted for its exceptional progressivism in gender matters, so how’d that come about? Might Dargis’ sly suggestion that women might be doing badly in Hollywood because “any business that refers to its creations as product cannot, by definition, have much imagination” — insinuating women just can’t play the hack game — actually bear fruit in the surplus of unconventional French female auteurs?

Another thought: I went to film school for a while at NYU, and I’d say the number of women in each class wasn’t more than 1/3. Given that NYU is notoriously willing to take anyone’s money if they can hurdle a certain academic bar, and generally regarded as one of the country’s premiere film schools, it’s hard to know what was up with that disproportionality (unless NYU itself is sexist in the very admissions process, which is hard to credit).

So, like, let’s send an actual reporter to go to the source (because, for better or worse, film schools are where a lot of directors pass through these days) and see what that’s about. Interview the women in the program, talk to them about their goals and ambitions, track them — do something to figure out what the gap in film school (and its greater margin behind the camera professionally) is about.

I know I’m just giving anecdotal evidence here, but that’s my point — I’m tired of reading this article every year, and I’d like to see some harder reporting. I’m just as interested in broadening up the number of voices in film; we have enough hack directors with no discernible directorial personality (male or female) around already.

[Photo: “Twilight: New Moon,” Summit Entertainment, 2009; Claire Denis]

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.

Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.


Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…


IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.


IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).


IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.


IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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