In Arlington National Cemetery, there’s a guarded monument called the Tomb of the Unknown Solider (or Tomb of the Unknowns). The monument is dedicated to US service members who’ve died without their remains identified. I remember a childhood visit to see the changing of the guard at the Tomb, and the strange feeling of contemplating the concept of anonymous sacrifice for the very first time. The older I get, the more I find myself confronting the painful truth: nearly everything we value in our modern world is built on a staggering amount of anonymous sacrifice. But as the battle for equality, liberty and justice for all rages on through every corner of American culture, there is little time to pause and honor the fallen. We press on. We fight on.
To mark the occasion of International Women’s Day, I was asked to write something in celebration of a favorite female filmmaker. There’s genuinely nothing I love more than celebrating other creative human beings. Singing the praises of the people that move and inspire me – particularly women! – is kind of my whole deal. As a filmmaker, my philosophy, my motto is “make films with your friends” – and in my heart, this means UPLIFT everyone around you, as much as possible. But as I considered which female filmmaker to throw some verbal confetti about, I got this uncomfortable feeling. A need to acknowledge the somewhat unacknowledgeable. A desire to celebrate the anonymous female filmmakers whose greatest work we will never get to see.
There are so many incredible women out there making incredible films right now. Karyn Kusama, Julia Hart, Patty Jenkins, and Sam Taylor Johnson are a few of my faves. I love Kelly Fremon Craig, Reed Morano and Rachel Talalay. None of these women are getting their due. I mean, maybe Patty, but otherwise, not even close. The fight for true parity has barely reached
the battlefield – I believe we’re all still suiting up, because the gatekeepers of Hollywood still have a giant blindspot. I believe that blindspot is not a lack of desire to hire diverse filmmakers but more a lack of understanding of them, and maybe even of femininity itself.
I believe this is why we still see women making movies that are mostly on the fringes. Mostly making “difficult” dramatic material. Art movies. Critical darlings, to be sure. But still circling circling circling the true epicenter of entertainment. There are exceptions, yes, but there is still such a long road ahead.
Which is why today, on International Women’s Day, I want to celebrate the women that have been in Hollywood who we’ve barely heard of or whose names we’ve mostly forgotten. Those who beat their fists against the glass ceiling and won’t get to see it shatter. Ladies who took meetings upon meetings and never saw their projects greenlit. Women like Linda Bloodworth-Thompson, whose flourishing career was crushed by a petty executive who didn’t care to understand her. Women like Martha Coolidge and Amy Heckerling, whose movies absolutely changed lives but somehow don’t get one iota the name recognition of their male counterparts. And most importantly, the true unknowns of decades ago, who didn’t make it through at all – but they were absolutely here. Fighting without hope of the cavalry ever arriving. And if you are a female or female-identifying filmmaker who feels trapped in her own anonymous void, know this: you’re needed. You’re necessary. Stay in this fight, because despite what has happened (or really, NOT happened) before, the cavalry will arrive in your lifetime. Think of all the anonymous sacrifices that have been made for you to be here, in this moment, and be encouraged. Think of the women whose names we can’t or won’t remember, who struggled for you. For the freedom to make the movies that you need to make.
By Maggie Levin
About | Maggie Levin, a Screenwriter and Director of the New Form series Miss 2059, holds the ultra special title of being the very first guest of Female Filmmaker Friday! When she’s not creating new shows (The Rocky Horror Hipster Show) or podcasts (Chicks Who Script) you can find her perfecting her Instagram aesthetic.
Follow her on social media: @maggielevin
View her episode here: http://bit.ly/2VIX6Ru
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