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BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM
and the Rise of the Female Auteur
by Sonny King

2002 was a banner year for women filmmakers. More big-screen films were released by women in 2002 than any prior year in the entire history of film. These movies were produced, written, and directed primarily by women, which is a true rarity in the usually male-dominated world of film. Although many of these movies never received more than limited nationwide distribution, some are currently available for perusal at your local DVD store or multiplex.

I highly recommend writer-director Nicole Holofcener's dysfunctional-family portrait called "Lovely and Amazing," a
comedy-drama that details the struggles of a mother and her 'three' daughters (one actress, one married, and one foster child). It is rated 'R' for language and full-frontal nudity. Other interesting women-directed films available at the video store are Patricia Cordosa's "Real Women Have Curves," a warm film detailing life in a Mexi-Cali family and the true nature of beauty. Even more intriguing is writer-director Rose Troche's "The Safety of Objects," which intertwines stories from 3 complex families and is both highly amusing and dramatic.

For those who liked the tri-storytelling of "The Hours," I highly favor renting writer-director Rebecca Miller's "Personal Velocity," which is divided into three separate short films revolving around three very different women. All of the issues raised in each short film are worthy of feature-length treatment. This one also won the Independent Spirit award for Best Low-Budget Film of 2002. Most notable of all of 2002's female directors is Caroline Link, from Germany, who's "Nowhere in Africa" won the Best Foreign Film Oscar this year. Her film is probably the most unique WW2
drama (of many) released last year.

Another Oscar winner (in two categories) is the visually fantastic "Frida," director Julie Taymor's extremely unique blend of art and drama, which successfully combines the paintings of Frida Kahlo with her tumultuous life story and marriage to artist Diego Rivera. On the comedy side, writer-actress Nia Vardalos won the year with "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," which attained the status of 'Highest Grossing Independent Film' of all time. However, since most of you have already seen that one, you might look a new imported comedy that has been winning raves overseas this past year and has finally made it to our shores. It's female writer-director Gurinder Chadha's "Bend It like Beckham," a delightful and uplifting story (NO subtitles - set in England) with a universal sense of family comedy (much like "Greek Wedding"). The major plotlline revolves around two British girls (one is East Indian) who have their hearts set on becoming women soccer ('football' in England) players against their parent's wishes. Excellent performances all around make this comedically enjoyable while adding an exciting sports subplot that showcases some of the best female players in the world. It's
playing in NY theaters right now, so be sure to check it out. And
if you're wondering about the title, 'Beckham' is an international soccer star (who married one of 'The Spice Girls') that everyone in the UK seems to idolize (the Michael Jordan of soccer), and he even has a cameo in the film. So next time you choose a film to rent or go see at the theater, you might want to try watching what some films by a new group of filmmakers that are on the rise.

And 2003 has just begun so get in on the ground floor and check these women filmmakers out!

 

© 2005 BIGBreakNY, LLC. No material may be reprinted without permission.