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Sundance Women Directors: Meet Maya Forbes

Sundance Women Directors: Meet Maya Forbes

Maya Forbes was born and raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She moved to Los Angeles in 1990 to write for film and television. She began her career on HBO’s The Larry Sanders Show and has since written for numerous television shows and feature films. 

Infinitely Polar Bear, her directorial debut, will first play at Sundance on January 18th.

Please give us your description of the film.  

It is a bittersweet comedy about a family dealing with mental illness, set in 1978. 

What made you write this story?

I wrote a script based on my childhood, growing up with a manic-depressive father and a mother who had to make some very hard choices. I feel lots of families face the many issues I explore in the film.  

What was the biggest challenge in making the film?  

Getting financing was very hard, as was the fact that I have three children. Making a film is not a family-friendly endeavor. But from a creative perspective, capturing the tone was the biggest challenge. I wanted it to be funny and heartbreaking and visceral and entertaining.

What advice do you have for other female directors?  

Trust your voice and run towards every element that scares you. You need confidence, but you don’t need to be macho to direct a movie.  

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

I haven’t been doing this long enough for misconceptions about my work! I look forward to that. But, as a writer, I don’t like to be pigeonholed: I can write serious comedy (this film), or silly, broad comedy (Monsters vs. Aliens) or drama (coming soon).  

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

Making art while also making a living will continue to be a big challenge for filmmakers.

Name your favorite women directed film and why.  

Fish Tank, directed by Andrea Arnold. Authentic performances, authentic world, heartbreaking and beautiful. I was transfixed.

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