Sundance Women Directors: Meet Madeleine Olnek

Sundance Women Directors: Meet Madeleine Olnek

Madeleine Olnek is a writer and director who honed her skills in New York venues with more than 20 produced plays, all comedies. Her Sundance Film Festival shorts “Countertransference” (2009) and “Hold Up” (2006), and her feature, Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same from the Festival in 2011, are viewable online.

The Foxy Merkins will debut at Sundance on January 20th.

Please give us your description of the

Margaret is a down-on-her-luck
lesbian hooker in training. She meets Jo, a beautiful, self-assured grifter
from a wealthy family and an expert on picking up women, even as she considers
herself a card-carrying heterosexual. The duo hit the streets where they
encounter bargain-hunting housewives, double-dealing conservative women and
husky-voiced seductresses. Navigating the bizarre fetishes and sexual needs of
their “dates” brings into focus the disparity between the two hookers, as
fellow travelers who will share the road together but only for a while.

What made you write this story? 

I had long loved classic hustler films
like My Own Private Idaho and Midnight Cowboy. I found that for big-budget
films, women often don’t get to play outliers like the ones depicted in these

What was the biggest challenge in
making the film?

Our biggest challenge is happening currently: Will we
meet our Kickstarter goal so that the movie has the money to get covered for
distribution? We are currently at 43% with less than 14 days to go. Our Kickstarter
link is here.
We worked very hard to come up with creative prizes, too. 

What advice do you have for other
female directors?

Just start making your movie. Don’t wait
until all the pieces are in place.

What’s the biggest misconception about
you and your work?

The biggest misconception — not just for
me, but for other comedic filmmakers as well — is that comedy can’t be a
profoundly meaningful experience. People tend to think of only dramas as
meaningful, but just because something is presented with weight doesn’t mean it
has weight.

Do you have any thoughts on what are
the biggest challenges and/or opportunities for the future with the changing
distribution mechanisms for films?

Now that technology and distribution are
more accessible, among the biggest challenges is that women will continue to
shy away from the active promotion of their efforts (on Kickstarter for example)
and be competitive with each other, thinking there is less to go around, rather than being supportive. Now that filmmaking has become more democratic,
we should have a “we are all in this together” attitude, not just
with women but with other filmmakers as welll and help each other promote our
movies in the development phase when they need the help.

Name your favorite women directed film
and why.

Triumph of the Will. (Kidding!)
Actually, it’s hard to think right now about a favorite movie directed by a
woman since there are so many that I love. But I would say that I recently
watched Donna Deitch’s Desert Hearts and couldn’t believe how smoking hot and great it still
is — a classic love story and so smart and beautifully shot. I also love Penny Marshall’s A
League Of Their Own
 (“There’s no crying in baseball!”). I was laughing about that
with someone just today. Also, one of my favorite films is Mary Harron’s I Shot
Andy Warhol 
— a brilliant and very dark comedy, as well as a fascinating piece
of history.

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