Talking With the Filmmaking Sisters of "All Over Me", Part I
by Erika Milvy
After the (relative) success of indie-films like "Go Fish" and "The Incredible Adventures of Two Girls in Love" comes "All Over Me", a movie
that substitutes the frivolous cheerleading of its forerunners with a
complexity that dares to speak to a larger audience of straight as well
as gay women who recall the obsessive, fervid bond of female friendship.
Blue-moody and awkward with angst, teenage heartache and the plaintive
wails of Patty Smith, "All Over Me" stars Alison Foland ("To Die For") as a
15 year-old, guitar-crazy misanthrope reevaluating her friendships and
priorities one hot summer in New York City.
The movie was written by first time screenwriter Sylvia Sichel and
directed by her sister, Alex Sichel, who also marks her filmmaking debut
with this project. Recently, between cigarettes, the Sichel sisters took
the time to answer some questions, complete each other’s thoughts and
finish each other’s sentences.
indieWIRE: So how did the Sichel sister filmmaking team come about?
Sylvia Sichel: Alex was hanging out with riot girrrl in New York and
wanted to do something with that, filmically and I had always wanted to
write a story about two best friends at that particular point in the
friendship when you have to separate or part of you is going to die.
Through talking about that we both realized we weren’t friends with our
best friends anymore and it had been this kind of incredibly crucial
friendship in our life. "All Over Me" was born out of that.
iW: Pardon my nerdiness, but what exactly is riot girrrl?
Alex Sichel: It was a whole scene that started in Olympia, Washington.
It started out with the punk music scene in Olympia where girls were
saying that they were going to shows and there were all boys on stage
and the girls couldn’t even mosh in the mosh pit cause they’d get beat
up by the boys so they started putting on girls only shows and it grew
They wrote up a manifesto saying all girls should be in bands and all
girls should be able to do whatever they want to do. The energy was a
lot of what inspired me in this project because in the music scene all
of these girls have given expression to all of their private girl
thoughts that are these feelings and thoughts that haven’t really been
given that much importance in our culture. For us to go into the bedroom
of this girl and her private world was really difficult because it
didn’t feel important enough, cause that’s not what movies are about.
For Sylvia to get inside the head of this girl she really had to go back
to that time and it was a very painful time
Sylvia: It was horrible.
Alex: One of the reasons it is painful is that your starting to deal with
the outside world and your realizing how much your feelings don’t fit in
to what you’re supposed to be feeling or to what the outside world is
telling you and I think that’s when girls start to deny their own
feelings. So to go back there and say, well ,what were those feelings,
its just hard to unlock that.
iW: Well what were those feelings?
Sylvia: Well, on a personal level? Because we’re not sociologists, from a
lot of conversations I’ve had and personal experience, a lot of it is
loss of self-esteem, and not fitting in. And the fear that people would
find out — not that I was a boy — but that I wasn’t a girl.
iW: Like that your not doing it right?
Sylvia: That all my friends were girls but I was like an impostor .
Alex: The movies we saw when we were growing up, when there were movies
about girls, they were not girls that we recognized at all. It wasn’t
like anyone we knew and that made you feel even more alienated.
iW: Movies like "Little Foxes", that kind of movie?
Sylvia: "Little Darlings" and "Foxes", you merged it into one movie.
Alex: We didn’t feel that there were movies about this best friendship
Sylvia: About this time that’s such an undefined time between family and
your first adult relationship, when girls are in their own world. That’s
not really given a voice. We felt that we’d never really seen that
represented from a girls perspective, in terms of her inner life, in a
way that was real to us.
Alex: And in so many of those movies — like "Little Foxes" — the girls
would always come in a pack and there was this feeling that you have
this kind of community around you but, in actuality, it was just you and
your best friend in your own little warped world together. There was no
community and that was what we’re trying to get at – following these
girls to their intimate moments and not just sitting around being catty.
Sylvia: We’re still so amazed that we succeeded in making a movie about one
girl’s desires. The movie is about more than one girl but its really
Claude’s story. The fact that a whole movie could be about one girl’s
feelings and thoughts and desires and struggle – when we started this
film it seemed impossible, you couldn’t really make a movie about that
because who would watch it? It would be boring.
For the rest of this interview, click here