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Women in Motion Part I: Claire Denis

Women in Motion Part I: Claire Denis

Claire Denis’
presentation was moderated The Hollywood Reporter’s Todd McCarthy. Since Claire was the head of La Fabrique du Cinema du Monde this year, she brought the Chinese director-producer team Liu Shu and Liang
Ying as guests to discuss their take on gender politics in the cinema industry as they know it. Their film, “ Lotus Position” is one of 13 projects chosen by La Fabrique this
year. With a budget of € 420,000 of which € 80,000 has been secured, they are searching for coproducers and cowriters and for post-production studios as
project partners (Europe and Asia), distributors, international sales, international funds (Eurimages Support to World Cinema, World Cinema Fund, SorFond,
Visions Sud Est, Doha Film Institute grant post production).

Watch the video of the interview here.

Clair was rather vague about her own success “as a woman”. She said she was not really conscious of any prejudices or mishandling when she got into the
business. Maybe the men saw her as this little sassy little girl, but to her, she was just working to do what she loved and did not really notice. It was
unusual when she started directing, and there were not many women, but that never stopped her. It was most important to make a film. Doubt was not about
being a woman, but about whether she could make a good film. Maybe some people saw her as a “little girl who wanted to make movies”, but that never touched
her at all. It was as if she was “walking in the rain without getting wet”. Her parents never stopped her either.

“Did you have female role modes?”
Todd McCarthy asked her.

“I read mostly. Virginia Woolf was my favorite.” She didn’t want to even begin to think about Simone de Beauvoir (editor here: I am rereading Simone de
Beauvoir now! The Mandarins) She read

Francoise Sagan (“How I adored Bonjour Tristesse and A Certain Smile

which I paired with the Johnny Matthes song in the days of my youth,” I thought – Sydney here). She had no fear. Juliette Greco (who starred in Otto
Preminger’s 1958 Bonjour Tristesse) was so strong. She was on top.
Thanks to 1946 French cinema, she was accepted in the small French film industry.

How do you see cinema today?

There are so many coproductions with France, like Jim Jarmusch’s new film

[sic. If I heard this correctly, I have been unable to track what his new film is…sorry fans. But “Only Lovers Left Alive” did have French coproduction
money. S.]

In Hollywood they say women have trouble with the crews. Did you?

As first AD, maybe the crew was a bit annoyed; my voice was not loud enough. But we made a film. The power of concentrating and the power of belief is
stronger than that.

[Todd asks this] as a film critic: Among other women critics, are there so many women critics in France?

Maybe less, there is some prejudice from Cahiers de Cinema. But there are female critics though it may be a more masculine world.

How has the French industry changed since you entered in the 70s?

Maurice Pialet said, “More and more women are working in cinema because it is no longer alive. Cinema is dead”. I see more girls in school, equal between
boys and girls. There seem to be more women producers than men. There is no “pushing”, women are there. In some other countries, it is not so.

Each time Claire starts a new project, she starts from zero. Her self-doubt is not that she can’t do it, but that she might not be able to go ahead enough
with shrewdness and determination without complaining about obstacles, to keep on convincing “them”. Women must come in on time and on budget.

As a note on Les Fabrique du Cinema du Monde, Claire described the “master classes” as having no master nor class. It is a collaboration of newer and more
seasoned cineastes. A female Chinese journalist made her first film and is meeting now with industry people she said referring to one of her guests, Liu
Shu.

How about women in the Chinese industry?

Claire’s two Chinese guests are at Cinema du Monde with “ Lotus Position”, about a young woman’s psychological and personal
quest in China today which takes her from pain to fear, from confrontation to serenity and ends with the question remaining: Can she accept injustice?

Director Liu Shu is a graduate of the University of Shandong where she majored in art. She became a television journalist and then turned to the cinema.
Employed in an NGO, she presented independent and experimental films in a network of academic and artistic venues.” Lotus”, the first film she directed,
wrote and produced on her own, premiered at the Critics’ Week in Venice in 2012 .

Producer Liang Ying has worked with the production company, Chinese Shadows, for three years. Headquartered in Hong Kong, this sales and production company represents the new
generation of Asian filmmakers in order to introduce them worldwide and to accompany in their meetings with their public. Chines Shadows’ recent productions include
“Red Amnesia” (Wang Xiaoshuai, Venice 2014 Competition) and “(Sex) Appeal” (Wang Wei Ming, Busan 2014 Competition).

The Chinese industry is progressing according to Liu Shu. But she likes Claire Denis’ description of doing “a good job” for its depiction of a male-female
work.

She read the N.Y. Film Academy Study of 2007 and no such statistical study exists in China. They hear in China there were two commercial films by women.
Women make independent films with no support; it is a fight to make a film. There are not many women directors in China.

Director Liu Shu never watches TV because it is always about men with a lot of women. The image they always see is about a woman searching for a husband.

Todd: Why are there so many films like that?

Because the Chinese leader is a man.

How do you fight against that?

Add more women?

It is a small industry with small companies. One company can make a big difference. At university there were many women.

The audience had some interesting questions:

“How to inspire investors to take a chance with women?”

“How to change the talk from revolution to revelation?

Producer, Joyce Pierpolone (a guest at the events) cited the Sundance-Women in
Film-USC Study of Women in the Cinema (available on

Sundance.org

) which says that the number of women writers, directors, DPs and producers stopped growing some 10 years ago and as budgets got larger, there were less
women. Even though at film schools gender representation is 50-50.

The Kering Foundation
combats violence against women. In line with the Group’s new identity and to enhance its impact internationally, the Foundation has refocused its actions
on three geographic areas and prioritizes one cause in each:

  • Sexual violence in the Americas (United-States, Brazil and Argentina)
  • Harmful traditional practices in Western Europe (France, Italy and United-Kingdom)
  • Domestic violence in Asia (China)

The Foundation structures its action around 3 key pillars:

  • Supporting local and international NGOs
  • Awarding Social Entrepreneurs (Social Entrepreneurs Awards)
  • Organizing awareness campaigns

You can watch all the speakers live on The Kering Group videos here: https://vimeo.com/keringgroup/videos

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