18 Women Filmmakers On Gender and Representation In Hollywood

“It feels really good that the conversations are going on but now the question is: Will that actually translate to opportunity?”

S.J. Chiro, Lane 1974

S.J. Chiro, Lane 1974

“I feel like we’re still way, way behind. Like, enormously behind. But I also feel hopeful and I’m a fighter and so I’ll keep on fighting. I’m very much in it to win it. I’m clawing forward and not in it to win it for myself, but for my daughter … for a new generation. All I want is to make life better for them and that’s the whole reason I got into filmmaking in the first place. It’s such a powerful medium and…that’s what keeps me going. It’s not an easy life, but all I have to do is think of future generations.”

William Callan for BuzzFeed News | Backdrop courtesy of MIOCulture.com

Noel Wells, Mr. Roosevelt

Noel Wells, Mr. Roosevelt

“If we don’t talk about it, we could go backwards — we don’t want to be complacent, we don’t want it to be like, some of us got here, so we’re going to give up on the rest of you. But soon, hopefully, we’re just filmmakers. We don’t think of ourselves as different, so I think it’s going in a really great direction and hopefully it’ll no longer be a situation where we’re counting and just celebrating. Hopefully we’re entering a time in world history where we’re all just beings of light shooting our films and writing our music and coming from our souls, and that’s all people will be able to see.”

William Callan for BuzzFeed News | Backdrop courtesy of MIOCulture.com

Ana Asensio, Most Beautiful Island

Ana Asensio, Most Beautiful Island

“I feel like there’s a lot of new female filmmakers or women wanting to be filmmakers who are getting inspired just because the conversation is out there. There is much more support these days than there was before, so I’m not sure if next year there will be more filmmakers with films out there, but there’s definitely going to be more female filmmakers making films just because they feel like society is actually encouraging them to step out there and say, ‘Hey, I’m a female filmmaker and I’m going to make this movie!’”

William Callan for BuzzFeed News | Backdrop courtesy of MIOCulture.com


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There’s Finally A Movie That Gets ’90s Nostalgia Right

Timothée Chalamet and Maia Mitchell.

Imperative Entertainment

Hot Summer Nights is literally the first film project 29-year-old Elijah Bynum has ever directed. “Not a short film, or a commercial, or music video. I really had nothing to show,” he stressed to BuzzFeed News from the South by Southwest Film Festival, where the movie made its premiere this past weekend.

Timothée Chalamet and Elijah Bynum.

William Callan for BuzzFeed News

But for a debut effort — and, particularly one that covers the well-trodden ground of teen summer romance and amateur drug dealing — Hot Summer Nights will feel pitch-perfect to current twentysomethings. Set in 1991, the film follows Daniel (Homeland’s Timothée Chalamet), an insecure teen whose recently widowed mom ships him off to the Cape for a summer. He falls for the ridiculously gorgeous local heartbreaker, McKayla Strawberry (Maika Monroe of It Follows), and into a small-time weed business with her quick-tempered and equally hot townie brother, Hunter Strawberry (Rings’ Alex Roe). Things get out of hand quickly, but it’s the perfectly invoked sense of the era that keeps Hot Summer Nights from falling into clichéd territory.

For audiences who grew up during the early 1990s, the appeal of this summertime coming-of-ager is spelled out in its well-executed swaths of pop-cultural nostalgia. Terminator 2 footage is spliced into the movie twice (both times at a drive-in movie theater); Daniel and McKayla spend an evening at an arcade playing Streetfighter 2; there’s an epic mid-carnival kiss followed by fireworks; baggy pants and awkward horizontal striped shirts abound; landline phones take the place of iPhones; Daniel dons a “Jesse Jackson ’88” cap; and the soundtrack is an eclectic mix of songs that were already considered retro in the ’90s (David Bowie, Linda Ronstadt, the Zombies).

Maika Monroe as McKayla Strawberry.

Imperative Entertainment

But Bynum was careful not to overdo the throwback vibe. “We didn’t want it to feel like people were playing dress-up, or that it was just kind of a pastiche or a ‘wink wink.’” He also wanted to avoid direct parallels between his movie — for which the director is seeking distribution — and other highly successful projects that have benefited from nostalgia. “I wrote this script and we started shooting it before Stranger Things was even a thing. Now it’s very dangerous, because they’ve done such a good job capturing that, and you have to be careful not to get too close to that because you’ll be compared to them.”

Bynum’s brand of authenticity could come from the fact that he based the narrative on a true story, of two guys he went to college with. Like Daniel and Hunter, they started a small weed business, dealing out of their dorm, which then grew into into “an empire” that turned dangerous and tore the friendship apart. “These small towns have legends and folklore, and they’re passed down through generations,” the Amherst, Massachusetts, native said. “There’s something very comforting about looking back at a time that is beyond you; looking back at a time with wiser perspective, being able to re-evaluate it differently.”

Alex Roe as Hunter Strawberry.

Imperative Entertainment

Bynum doesn’t think he’s reinventing the wheel with his love letter to the small summertime towns of the East Coast. “If you look at something like Grease, which was made in the late ‘70s about the ‘50s, or American Graffiti, I think people are always looking back at the past and feeling nostalgic about it in one way another.” Yet, even Bynum can’t help but feel a little wistful for the ’90s, too. “I like when people still used payphones, and no one walked around with cell phones,” he sighs. “I think there’s something romantic about having to memorize a girl’s phone number and then call her up. But that doesn’t exist anymore, sadly.” He’s not wrong — who memorizes phone numbers anymore? — but for the two hours of Hot Summer Nights, it almost feels like the present.

Timothée Chalamet, Elijah Bynum, Maia Mitchell, Maika Monroe, and Alex Roe.

William Callan for BuzzFeed News

Meet The Actor Who’s Playing Young Hillary Clinton Onscreen

Addison Timlin at SXSW.

William Callan for BuzzFeed News

AUSTIN — When Addison Timlin got the call in August that she had landed the role of Hillary Diane Rodham in When I’m a Moth, she was terrified — mainly because the movie would be released during Clinton’s administration, or so the 25-year-old actor thought.

But on Nov. 8, Timlin and the rest of the world learned that wouldn’t be the case. “I was so, so heartbroken,” the actor said of Clinton’s loss. “All I could think was, Oh my fucking god. I was so sad for her. Playing her and thinking about her and reading about her and listening to her when she was a young woman, she is fucking remarkable. And she is adorable and she is so well-spoken and she is so charming, really. And she’s done really incredible things, always — the whole time. I think she’s pretty fucking great and I was devastated, especially because I thought she was super fucking capable. I don’t think any of us expected what happened to happen — but in that way, it kind of gives the movie another shape.”

When I’m a Moth, which began production in October, takes place in 1969 during the gap year Clinton took to work in Alaska before embarking on her law career — but Timlin is quick to add that it’s not a traditional biopic. “There are plenty of moments where we’re like, ‘This didn’t happen,'” she said. “It’s less about that time in her life and [more] about … this young woman starting to have the understanding that her life from that point forward will be lived in a very specific way as to not disturb anyone — to become a very well-liked person. I think it was all intentional, but I don’t think it was disingenuous. I think a lot of people feel that way about Hillary Clinton, that she’s always tried to be liked and that’s what people have veered away from. It’s interesting, but I think it’s something, unfortunately, women all over the world deal with in every way — this tragic need to be liked.”

William Callan for BuzzFeed News

It’s a concept Timlin also explores in Like Me, which had its world premiere at SXSW recently and in which she plays Kiya, an artist who gains a massive social media following after posting a video of herself robbing a convenience store. “I think in the world right now, everyone is seeking validation all the time — and getting it, too,” Timlin said. “Kiya’s just trying to communicate with her generation in the only way that they do. It’s something she actually feels disconnected from but knows that it is the only way to connect with people, and I think that’s kind of an unfortunate truth for our generation and the world right now.”

While playing Kiya gave her insight into people her own age, playing Clinton became the inspiration for whom Timlin wants to be in the future. “This is the story of a woman who is just starting to turn this corner where she’s not afraid of being intimidating and she’s not afraid to be the smartest person in the room,” she said of Clinton in When I’m a Moth. “She wants to be the smartest person in the room and she wants to be the most powerful person in the room. That’s something I’ve never sought after in my real life, but I did enjoy going to that place.”