Scorsese Screens - Picks for September
In partnership with The Film Foundation, Turner Classic Movies is proud to bring you this exclusive monthly column by iconic film director and classic movie lover Martin Scorsese.
Women Make Film (Tuesday Evenings, September 1 - December 1) This month, TCM is beginning a three-month-long tribute to women filmmakers pegged to Mark Cousins' multi-part documentary Women Make Film. When I was young and there were far fewer women making movies, the only name we were aware of was Ida Lupino's. As a student, I was introduced to the work of Maya Deren, and I was lucky enough to take an editing class with Shirley Clarke and to start seeing her work. Then there was the arrival of Agnès Varda, a force to be reckoned with. Their work will be shown in the coming months alongside films by Alice-Guy Blaché, Lois Weber, Larisa Shepitko, Vera Chytilova, Margarethe von Trotta, Jane Campion, Kathryn Bigelow, Alice Rohrwacher and others. The list of women filmmakers, rediscovered and new (I'm thinking of Joanna Hogg and Josephine Decker, whose work I admire), is finally becoming quite long: it's only recently that the situation has started to fundamentally change. When I look back at some of the people in the tribute, I marvel at their iron resolve and their commitment to their visions--essential qualities for all real filmmakers but doubly so for women trying to make movies from the '50s through the '80s, no matter what kind of movie. On the one hand, you had Elaine May, who worked within the system and actually stole and hid reels of Mikey and Nicky during post so that the studio couldn't get at it. On the other hand, you have filmmakers like Claire Denis and Lucrecia Martel: you can feel their presence and their unshakeable investment in their art in every frame and every cut. They are models for women who want to make movies, but also for all aspiring filmmakers because they give all of themselves to the work. There are so many pictures in this tribute that have deeply affected and inspired me, from Barbara Kopple's Harlan County USA to Chantal Akerman's Je Tu Il Elle to Barbara Loden's Wanda to Julie Dash's Daughters of the Dust. And, I want to say a special word about Lina Wertmuller's Seven Beauties. Here was a director who started in the '60s and suddenly burst on the scene like an elaborate fireworks display--both the pictures and Wertmuller herself, who practically defined the word "flamboyant." Of the four pictures she made between 1972 and 1976, Seven Beauties was the bravest, the toughest, the most outrageous, a comedy on the scale of grand opera that resolves tragically. It's about an absolute lowlife who winds up deserting the Italian army, getting caught by the Germans, then sent to a camp that suggests Buchenwald and grovels as few characters have ever groveled simply to stay alive. When I first saw it, I didn't know what to make of it, and it's a picture I've come to admire more and more over the years with every new viewing. Very few directors have the courage or the vision to go where Lina Wertmuller did with Seven Beauties.