female film director

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We’re spotlighting Tribeca selections helmed by women directors every day of Women’s History Month.

Throughout the month of March, you’ll be seeing films by everyone from Nicole Holofcener and Mira Nair to Sarah Polley and Kelly Reichardt, along with rising artists like Talya Lavie and Meera Menon, two of the four winners of our ongoing Nora Ephron Prize, a festival competition for woman moviemakers devoted to the late, pioneering legend.

Follow along and seek these talents and their cinematic treasures out!

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Euzhan Palcy: Trailblazing black female filmmaker

After French West Indian filmmaker Euzhan Palcy’s debut film, Sugar Cane Alley, earned her France’s distinguished César Award for best first work in 1984, an impressed Robert Redford personally invited her to attend the 1985 Sundance Institute Filmmakers Lab (depicted in the above photos). There she workshopped her adaptation of the novel A Dry White Season, about South Africa’s then still-prevalent apartheid. A few years later MGM would produce the movie, making Palcy the first black female director to helm a major Hollywood studio title. Her dedication to an unrelentingly accurate portrayal of apartheid in the film drew Marlon Brando out of his self-imposed, years-long retirement to accept a role that earned him an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actor, and made Palcy the first black director—male or female—to direct an Oscar-nominated performance.

Photos: © 1985 Roger Christiansen | Courtesy of the Sundance Institute Archives

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As a director of 3 feature length movies, several TV movies and episodes, and 2 documentaries, Ava DuVernay is making a name for herself in the entertainment industry. She continues to break boundaries, make film history and inspire black, female filmmakers. Let’s face it, she really deserved that Oscar nomination.

Ava (2015), gouache on fabriano, now on redbubble!!!

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“You know that feeling when you see someone getting off a bus and their body language as they disembark… you can feel everything about that experience. I think we carry so much and communicate so much through our bodies. And there’s a really kind of guttural connection to that, as simple as seeing someone smile and wanting to smile. We share so much through small gestures that we make everyday and, for me, cinema is a language to express that because it can put you in the point of view of another body like no other medium. There’s traditional dance on film but I’m also interested in this other space, which is focused on just how we communicate, and how to express that through such a vibrant and living art form.”

Read: Tribeca alumnus Anna Rose Holmer talks to Matthew Eng about her gorgeous and psychologically-astute feature directorial debut, The Fits, now back at Metrograph for a limited time only!