When you go to the theatre, how often do you wonder who made the film? Would your decision to see the film be based on the sex of the director? Perhaps it might, but I like to believe the films audience is drawn to the theatre by the content and subject matter. I tend to go see films if the story intrigues me or the hype around it is so large I can’t say no.
Unfortunately, we live in a society where we are the judge and juror of all things. Majority rules they say. Minorities are ostracized because they’re different and society speculates based on appearance rather than fact. We forget that we are all onions. A wise man/woman does not judge on appearance alone. They peel away the layers until you find the core. Sometimes we’re surprised and sometimes not but we all deserve to be treated like an onion and nothing less, metaphorically.
Women as directors and full-fledged filmmakers are making their mark in the world, finally. Although, there has been examples of amazing female directors paving the road for other females and raising the bar to compete with men, it seems society is still not used to the idea. Some examples are Penny Marshall’s A League Of Their Own, Awakenings, The Preacher’s Wife, Cinderella Man just to name a few. Another female director I’m a huge fan of is Kathryn Bigelow for her film, The Hurt Locker and the film, The Loveless. The films we enjoy should never be based on the sex of the director but on the merit of the film.
FeFF is the Female Eye Film Festival held in Toronto every year. This is the fifteenth time the festival has celebrated women filmmakers. It runs from June 20–25, 2017, in Toronto, in the Beach, with Film Screenings, Industry Panels, Script Development, and Best in the Biz Tributes ANNOUNCING: 2017 HONORARY MAVERICK, Valerie Creighton, President and CEO Canadian Media Fund, and 2017 HONORARY DIRECTOR, Ann Marie Fleming.
The Female Eye Film Festival will screen live-action features, shorts, animated films, experimental films, and short and feature-length documentaries and will present the ever-popular Late Night Thrills and Chills, Horror/Thrillers/Suspense, directed by women.
Founder and executive director of FeFF is Leslie-Anne Coles. She had this to say about the festival.
“We’re so delighted to be celebrating 15 years of FeFF. This year we received a record breaking number of narrative features directed by women. We are delighted to be presenting 15 of them, along with five feature documentaries and 53 short live-action, documentary, experimental, and animated films from around the world. In the spirit of The Female Eye, every film is always honest, not always pretty and the films are edgy and tackle subject matter not often found in your mainstream cinema. It’s no coincidence that over 90% of the films directed by women are also written by them and feature a female protagonist.
At FeFF 2017 you will see vibrant, uncompromising, and unapologetic leading ladies in their 70s. Babushkas, drug-addled youth, a variety of entertaining and more hard-boiled documentaries that tackle difficult subject matter with panache, along with a gamut of brilliantly executed shorts.”
The festival features films from across Canada and the United States, Ireland, France, South Korea, Thailand, the United Kingdom, South Africa, Lebanon, Finland, Poland, Bulgaria, Estonia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Italy, Greece, Hong Kong, China, Spain, Mexico, Israel, Brazil, India, Russia, Iceland, South Africa, Australia, Afghanistan, New Zealand, Japan, Iran, and Germany.
Thanks to publicist Sasha Stoltz, she worked her magic and scored me an interview with first time feature filmmaker Martine Blue. Since Martine makes her home in Newfoundland, we spoke over the phone.
Martine’s film Hunting Pugnut was selected as the Opening Feature. She wrote and directed the already award-winning coming-of-age story. The story is about Bernice, a 15-year-old misfit who runs away from her rural Newfoundland community in search of Pugnut, a charismatic but tormented and violent gutter punk, after he steals her father’s ashes right from the urn as they honor his memory. Featuring a stellar performance by “star to watch” Taylor Hickson (Deadpool, Aftermath, Everything, Everything) and inspired by the life of writer/director/editor Martine Blue and her fathers abrupt death. The film also stars Joel Thomas Hynes, Amelia Manuel, Jamie Silken Merrigan, Bridget Wareham, and Mary Walsh.
“Considering this is your first feature film, how did you know you were ready to take the leap?”
“I had made approximately ten short films prior to this one. There was a program offered a couple years ago in Newfoundland called Picture Start. It takes you through a very professional experience of making a film. I had a decent budget and got to work with some top comedy actors – This Hour Has 22 Minutes. Having the experience of working with a full crew allowed me to make a much better quality short film than the previous one. It elevated me to try a feature next.”
She says making her first feature went fast and was an enveloping experience. It took 5 weeks to film and she edited it herself. They filmed in Sept. through October and editing was finished in the spring of 2016.
“It didn’t feel much different than a short. It took longer and we had to fly in a few actors from Toronto that I knew from living there. We also flew in the talented up and comer Taylor Hickson from BC. She was only 17 when we shot it but was so professional and a true delight to work with. We used local talent here in Newfoundland to fill the rest of the cast. In total we had a cast of 33. We needed a large cast to portray the life of a gutterpunk. As a gutterpunk you meet many people in the lifestyle.”
“I’m not familiar with the term ‘gutterpunk.’ Could you explain what it is?”
“A gutterpunk is a step beyond being a punk rocker. Based on the ideology of freedom from society and its rules. Living without money, hitchhiking, train hopping, eating out of dumpsters, etc. Living a free and hedonistic lifestyle.”
“And now you’re a filmmaker. Your life has certainly evolved.”
“I once made a film while squatting in New York. I follow different threads in my life. This is what I happen to be doing now.”
I am always fascinated where great filmmakers come from and how they’re shaped and molded, what inspires them and how they came to be. Martine Blue is no exception to the rule that there really aren’t any. If you are inspired by your own life or someone else’s and it won’t leave your thoughts, then maybe you should make a film about it.
The film is scheduled for theatrical release in the fall and Martine could not say enough positive things about her experience making the film. Her producer had a very positive vibe that infected the rest of the crew. Her actors brought their best and transformed their positive energy into phenomenal performances. I can say this because I’ve had the pleasure of watching a screener. It’s original, gritty and filled with impactful scenes that could only have been written by an individual that has experienced it first hand.
She used the Alexa camera to capture the footage based on her DOP’s advice. It screened across Canada and also at the Arizona International Film Festival and won Best First Feature. The musical score was done by Simon Miminis. She found him through mandy.com and had never met in person. Having worked with Simon remotely Martine invited him to the festival for the Q & A afterwards.
“He was exceptional at creating the sound I was wanting for the film. A guitar and drums sound with a punk-rock edge. He hit the mark!”
It’s a beautiful thing when the stars align and your film gets made the way you hoped. I believe it comes down to careful and precise planning but life may have other plans for happy accidents and to test your grit. Either way, you will never know unless you try.