During the month of October Filmatique presents The Future is Female (Directors), a showcase of first features from some of contemporary cinema's most prominent female directors.
In Swiss filmmaker Ursula Meier's Home, a family lives peacefully off the grid before the arrival of construction vehicles catapults them into the throng of modern life. Ana Lily Amirpour's sleek, black-and-white A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night posits the possibility of love in an ignoble wasteland, while Chloé Zhao's winsome Songs My Brothers Taught Me chronicles two young siblings' life on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Set in South Brooklyn, Eliza Hittman's It Felt Like Love offers a bracing portrait of young female sexuality; Andrea Arnold's Red Road traces the journey of a working-class Glaswegian who becomes fixated on a figure from her past.
Comprised entirely of debut films, and featuring naturalistic character studies alongside bold experiments in genres as diverse as vampire cinema, coming-of-age tales, and surveillance thrillers, Filmatique's The Future is Female (Directors) series casts a lens on some of the most exciting female filmmakers working today—a galvanizing testament to the diverse, distinct, and increasingly important voices of women working behind the camera.
Home, Ursula Meier / Switzerland-France-Belgium, 2008
Along with her husband and two young daughters, Marthe lives in an eden of her own creation, nearly isolated from the rest of the world. The arrival of a construction vehicle, however, pierces their tranquil, hermetic existence—before long a disused highway has been re-opened, and the family finds their home situated in the midst of rush-hour traffic. While the privileges of clean air, quietude and privacy are thus denied them, Marthe remains determined to stay no matter the cost.
Steeped in a richly evocative, sensual world and attuned to the nuances of human behavior, Home lays bare the anxieties of those forced into contact with a relentlessly encroaching modernity. Ursula Meier's debut film premiered at Cannes' Semaine de la Critique, Stockholm, BFI London; Mar del Plata, where it won Best Actress and Best Cinematography; and Reykjavik, where it won the FIPRESCI Prize. Home was nominated for three César Awards, won the Swiss Film Award for Best Film, Best Screenplay, and Best Emerging Actor, and was Switzerland's official submission for Best Foreign Language Film at the 82nd Academy Awards.
Songs My Brother Taught Me, Chloé Zhao / USA, 2015
Present-day on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, amid the desolate if not entrancing landscapes of South Dakota's badlands. Teenage Johnny spends his days breaking horses and hustling contraband liquor out of the family's laundry room, yet dreams of moving with his girlfriend to Los Angeles, where he believes a brighter future awaits him. Before his departure, Johnny finds it increasingly difficult to shelter his young sister Jashuan from the harsh realities characterizing life on the reservation.
Filmed using non-professional actors and attuned to both the surrounding natural beauty and their collective despair, Songs My Brothers Taught Me captures the cycles of poverty, violence, and trauma that afflict one of the United States' most marginalized Native communities. Chloé Zhao's debut feature premiered at Sundance, Cannes' Quinzaine des Réalisateurs, Göteborg, BFI London; Camerimage, where it won the Jury Award for Best Cinematography Debut; Mumbai, where it received a Special Jury Mention for Achievement in Screenwriting; and Jerusalem, where it won the FIPRESCI Prize.
It Felt Like Love, Eliza Hittman / USA, 2013
A languorous summer in South Brooklyn. Lila, an awkward adolescent girl, passes her time breaking into beach homes and tagging along on dates between her pretty friend Chiara and Chiara's new boyfriend, Patrick. Lila decides this will be the summer she loses her virginity, too—her interest is piqued when she meets Sammy, an older boy reputed to sleep with just about anyone. Yet Lila's attempts at sexual conquest risk taking her beyond her limits, and into dangerous uncharted territory.
A nuanced, hypnotic exploration of power dynamics between the sexes, It Felt Like Love elucidates the naïveté and disquiet of female adolescence. Eliza Hittman's feature film debut premiered at Sundance, Rotterdam, Göteborg, and Sarasota, where it won a Special Jury Prize. It Felt Like Love was nominated for two Independent Spirit Awards and is a New York Times Critics' Pick.
Red Road, Andrea Arnold / UK-Denmark, 2006
Jackie lives alone, monitoring CCTV cameras in a high-rise housing complex in Glasgow's northern periphery. She engages from time to time in an affair with a married man, but her life is otherwise uneventful. Then one day a figure appears on Jackie's monitor that she's seen before; she learns this man, Clyde, has been recently released from prison on parole. Before long Jackie begins stalking Clyde, entangling herself in a perilous web of past histories and traumas.
Tense, elusive, and steeped in an atmosphere of escalating paranoia, Red Road delves into the psychology of a woman with an unresolved past as a conduit to our contemporary surveillance age. Andrea Arnold's first film premiered at Cannes, where it won the Jury Prize; BFI London, where it won the Sutherland Trophy; Philadelphia, where it won Best First Time Director; Göteborg, where it won the International Debut Award; Miami, where it won the Grand Jury Prize; and Reykjavik, where it won the FIPRESCI Prize. Red Road was also nominated for four London Critics Circle Film Awards, winning British Newcomer of the Year, and five British Independent Film Awards, winning Best Actor and Best Actress.
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, Ana Lily Amirpour / USA, 2014
Bad City, a dystopian landscape of nefarious characters where one has the sneaky feeling that there is always trouble afoot. A woman in black stalks the streets—red, viscous fluid seeping from broken flesh is what she seeks. Soon the girl meets another lost soul, sparking an unusual love story between two misfits in this Iranian ghost town.
Set to the pulsing beats of rock, electronic, and instrumental Hollywood Westerns, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is a surreal, stylish portrait of a new kind of antihero: a Farsi-speaking, skateboard-riding, blood-sucking female. Ana Lily Amirpour's debut feature premiered at Sundance, Rotterdam, Stockholm; Dublin, where it won Best Cinematography; Bucharest and Hawaii, where it won a Special Mention; and Sitges, where it won the Jury Award. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night was also nominated for two Independent Spirit Awards and won the Gotham Award for Breakthrough Director.