American Cinematheque’s upcoming celebration of female directors will showcase short films as diverse as the women behind the cameras, everything from documentaries to historical drama to music videos.
The fifth annual “Focus on Female Directors” will be screening at the Egyptian Theatre at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday. Three of the featured directors, Patricia Cardoso, Robyn Simms and Janet Grillo will appear at the screening for a discussion following the shorts.
“We really try, in one evening, to go the whole breadth of female filmmakers,” said American Cinematheque’s Kim Ade lman, who helped program this year’s selection along with co-workers Andrew P. Crane and Andrea Richards.
The programmers spent the year looking for potential shorts to show ““ not limited by a theme or deadline like film festivals ““ with the goal of highlighting a range of female talent.
“We try to make the program a little bit like a roller coaster ride,” Crane said of the variety of shorts showcased. “We want to create a palette so that people feel satisfied at the end.”
The program was born out of a desire to highlight female achievement in a field where they remain a minority ““ on Jan. 7, Kathryn Bigelow (“The Hurt Locker”) became only the seventh female to ever be nominated for the Directors Guild of America’s top award, recognizing Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film.
“We want to emphasize that there is all this talent out there, and that for various reasons, women are still such a small percentage of directors,” Crane said.
“Focus on Female Directors” is a forum for local and international directors and both established and emerging talent. Some of the shorts come from Academy Award winners, while others are the work of aspiring directors ““ past years have seen shorts from UCLA film students, including Michelle Hung’s “Chinese Dumplings” which screened during the event’s third year.
Patricia Cardoso, a UCLA alumna who has directed several successful films, including 2002’s “Real Women Have Curves,” will be at the Egyptian Theatre following the program to participate in the audience discussion. She directed her short, “The Air Globes” as a student at UCLA and will show it during the program. It is the second film she has ever made, and when she showed it to her UCLA classmates and professors, she was surprised at its positive reception.
“”˜The Air Globes’ changed my life as I realized that I was talented, that I was good at filmmaking, that I had my own voice and that I had something to say,” Cardoso wrote in an e-mail in Australia. “Twenty years later, it is still a film that I love and that truly reflects my own sensibility. It is a timeless, universal story.”
Lauren Slusser, a fourth-year film student with a directing concentration, has always felt the need to seek out female directors who have found success to serve as role models.
“Women directors don’t get as much press, they’re not what we’re talking about so much in class unless you’re taking our women in film class,” Slusser said.
Once Slusser discovered some of her favorite female directors like Sofia Coppola and Brenda Chapman, she followed their careers as a source of inspiration.
Since Slusser said she has felt like a minority before in her field ““ at a summer internship with Pixar Animation Studios, all but one of the directors were male ““ she said she thinks programs like “Focus on Female Directors” are important and necessary.
“In terms of outreach and encouraging other young women, I think (American Cinematheque) is doing a great thing. … There’s a lot of women students that I know that are really interested in film and would like something like this,” Slusser said.
Encouraging women to become directors is another key element of “Focus on Female Directors.”
“We’re hoping that people in the audience will be inspired to go out and a grab a camera themselves,” Adelman said.