Are Women Unfairly Represented in 21st Century Cinema?

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Words by Naomi Jeffreys

How many times have to watch a trailer for a film, and you see a strong man, the protagonist, taking centre stage. And the woman is simply unfairly represented? She is merely a ‘damsel in distress’? The person who is nice to look at, but has no real substance? Has this happened to you?

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It has to me, one such example, is in the portrayal of Hermione Granger in the ‘Harry Potter Series’. If you’ve ever read the novels, then you know that Hermione Granger is clever, a little unhinged and a loyal friend. She has an interesting storyline, fighting for house elves everywhere – S.P.E.W. – Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare.

Clearly women in novels are something entirely different than when they are portrayed on film.

Yet, somehow, this strong woman got lost in translation in the films. Often she is overshadowed by her male counterparts, Harry and Ron. In fact, one such example, is in the final film, where Ron and Hermione must kill the last Horcrux with a basilisk fang and she mumbles to Ron; “I can’t”

I can’t? I can’t? How many times has a woman said that in any film you have watched? Emma Watson’s portrayal of Hermione Granger is only one example. If you look at any film, Hollywood and British cinema, women are sketchy figures, half drawn, half acted. They simply don’t seem to match their male counterparts.

Evidently, something needs to change. We are no longer producing silent films, or black and white films where the woman is the ‘damsel in distress’, it isn’t often that women have a real meaty part to get in to. Hollywood simply seems unable to reach a balance in their portrayal of women. They are either weak and feeble or hard arsed.

Something must change, Or I fear cinema may be stuck for any new, fresh films, with a real woman at its heart, at its centre  for audiences to enjoy.

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Brian Neufang – Producer of Ingenious Exclusive Interview

Words by Naomi Jeffreys

Brian Neufang is a young and up and coming producer of the wonderful new Independent Film, ‘Inegenious’, which stars Jeremy Renner (‘Marvel’s The Avengers’).

The Rabbit Film Section has been fortunate enough to interview the driving force behind this Independent Film, which is operating outside the Hollywood system.

Naomi Jeffreys: What is it that draws you to Independent film?

Brian Neufang: I think what draws me most to independent film is the somewhat rebellious nature of how it gets made. It takes a very passionate individual, or group of individuals, to make a movie from conception to a finished product.

BN: Often times in order to do that without the help of the big movie studios and their financial resources, you have to go outside the box and do things in ways they have never been done before! It’s amazing to see an independent movie made with thousands of dollars look like it was made with millions.

NJ: What would you say to students who shy away from Independent film, and why they should watch them?

BN: I think students especially, should give independent film a chance. Don’t shy away from it. Everyone loves a blockbuster, they can be highly entertaining and with huge special effects, what’s not to like? I love to see things in IMAX 3D and have my senses overloaded just as much as the next guy.

BN: But, Independent movies are subtler and tend to push creative and artistic boundaries, test the limits of convention, which is what students should be doing with their lives in education anyway. That’s just my opinion. Getting into indie films is the perfect accompaniment to that kind of exploration.

NJ: Where did you study?

BN: I got a Bachelors Degree in Theatre Arts at the University of Arizona

NJ: When did you know you wanted to become a Movie Producer?

BN: That’s a good question. I’ve always known I wanted to work in the entertainment industry. I didn’t really know producing is what I wanted to do, until I started doing it. I set out to be an actor but I have always had a knack for pulling resources and people together.

BN: So, when not working as an actor, I have taken lots of jobs in various aspects of production to gain experience and a well-rounded knowledge of the movie making process. With a good combination of luck, skill, and strong relationships, I’ve managed to work my way into a producing position

NJ: Do you have any advice for any students who want to become Producers?

BN: Study your influences. Find out where they’ve been and what they did before they became your idol, that way you have an idea of the dues they paid before they reached the position they are in. Involve yourself in productions in any way you can.

BN: Student film and theatre productions are a great place to start. Work for free if you have to, be an extra. Just get on set so you can see how it all works. Look at the big picture and see what different people do in the different roles. Movies are huge undertaking with many moving parts.

BN: There is a reason there are so many names in the credits at the end. It takes a lot of people to bring it all together.

NJ: Can you tell us about your new film, ‘Ingenious’? 

BN: Ingenious is our first film. We funded the production ourselves. We turned to Kickstarter to raise the last bit of funding needed to do a full theatrical release independent of any major Hollywood studio, just the way our movie was made.

NJ: Jeremy Renner, star of upcoming film, Ingenious is a Hollywood star, is he an important factor in providing funds for a theatrical release outside the Hollywood system?

BN: Yes, Jeremy Renner’s current popularity will certainly help us gain attention for ‘Ingenious’ that we will need to raise the funds. He has a very large and growing fanbase that will want to see him in a different role. He usually plays a badass and this is a departure from that. He hasn’t been seen in a comedy since the movie ‘Senior Trip’ which came out about 15 years ago.

NJ: “America is the place where a little guy can have a big idea, all it takes is a little faith” one of the lines from the trailer of ‘Ingenious’. How far do you believe in that philosophy?

BN: I think faith in ones self is paramount to achieving your goals and dreams. I’ve seen it happen in many lives of the people I know. The Writer and Producer of Ingenious, Mike Cram is proof of that notion as well.

BN: The script is based on his own life as a dreamer and inventor that stuck to his belief, through thick and thin, to invent a product that has sold over 10 million units and continues to sell to this day. I’d tell you what that is but you’ll have to see the movie. I don’t want to spoil it, it’s the same invention in real life as it is in the movie.

NJ: ‘Ingenious’ looks like a true Indie Film, following two down on their luck inventors, trying to make a go of it in America. Is there anything else which students at the University of Essex should know about this film?

BN: Only that it speaks to the heart and ingenuity of the human being. We are capable of so many great things but we either get scared or lose sight of what we truly want to get out of life.This movie is about facing those obstacles with your heart and a sense of humour.

BN: The movie was shot entirely on 35mm film, which gives it a real picturesque quality. It takes place mostly in Tucson, Arizona, which has a very unique and scenic landscape. And of course, the actors, all of whom have gone on to major motion picture success, give great performances. And if you’re a Jeremy Renner fan, seeing him in this gives you an idea of the range he has and what adds to his credibility as a Hollywood star.

So Far So Good. How You Fall Doesn’t Matter. It’s How You Land!

Words by Naomi Jeffreys

Heard about the guy who fell off a skyscraper? On his way down past each floor, he kept saying to reassure himself: So far so good… so far so good… so far so good. How you fall doesn’t matter. It’s how you land!” La Haine, Hubert 

Every once in a while, career defining films are made, films which push the boundaries, films which push expectations – and films which become classics.

La Haine was a French independent film, which was made in 1995, directed by actor turned director, Mathieu Kassovitz (Amelie). And starred Saïd Taghmaoui (My Brother the Devil), Hubert Koundé (The Constant Gardener) and Vincent Cassel (Black Swan)

The film had a reasonable budget of 2,590,000, the film grossed $309,811 dollars. It has since become a classic, a staple of French and worldwide cinema. With its gritty themes, clever cinematography and strong social/political message. This is a film which deserves to be watched.

‘Wendy Ide of The Times stated that La Haine is “One of the most blisteringly effective pieces of urban cinema ever made.”‘ And, based on fourteen reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an overall approval rating from critics of 100%, with an average score of 8/10.

Clearly this is a film which has heart, determination, a point. The Rabbit Film Section urges you to watch this film, if just to watch a piece of cinema history.