As the keynote speaker at the 2014 AFI Directing Worshop for Women Showcase, Kimberly Peirce was upfront about the difficult road that her listeners had ahead of them while congratulating them for “making movies that have never been made before.”
Recalling the press tours for Stop-Loss and Carrie, Peirce revealed her annoyance that she was asked the same two questions over and over again as a woman director. For her sophomore film Stop-Loss, Peirce was repeatedly questioned, “Why did it take so long to make a second movie?” and for Carrie, “why hadn’t I made more movies?” Eventually, Peirce realized that both queries came from the same place of blaming female filmmakers for their relatively smaller output instead of the industry that practices routine gender discrimination against them.
Peirce then shared an interesting battle with the studio that backed her Carrie remake, which was widely disparaged by critics for not bringing a fresh take on Brian DePalma’s classic. Peirce did plan — and shot — an entirely original showstopper of an ending that had a full-grown adult emerging from a womb.
“So you really wanna show a vagina?” the suits sputtered when they could finally get the V-word out of their mouths. Their squeamishness about the body part that the majority of people around the world have led Peirce to ask, “Is it any wonder we struggle to get jobs in an industry where some — not all — men have a hard time even saying the word “vagina,” dealing with the idea of birthing, of things coming or going into vaginas? Nearly every woman I have talked to have come up against this sort of thing.”
Peirce’s ending was eventually scrapped. It can be found on the Carrie DVD.
But Peirce remained hopeful that women directors will continue to make films, if only because “audiences are desperate for new and exciting material, for new and exciting stories, for characters and stories they can love deeply.”
“Every time we get hired, every time we work, every time we push back,” she concluded, “we make change.”
Watch Peirce’s speech: