Decide for yourself, or have others decide for you?

by Chiara Pinzauti

Yesterday morning the series of talks that is an integral part of the Miu Miu Women's Tales program got underway at the Hotel Excelsior - Spazio Ente dello Spettacolo. The first talk out of the four on the agenda saw two artists take the stage: the actress and director Chloë Sevigny and the dancer, choreographer and director Celia Rowlson-Hall, directors of the thirteenth and fourteenth short films, respectively, in the collection of shorts conceived by Miu Miu.

Giorgio Gosetti introduced the two women directors, while journalist Penny Martin, editor-in-chief of the magazine The Gentlewoman, started her stint as moderator of the four conversations.

Among the topics covered, one was the reasons Sevigny and Rowlson-Hall decided to make the move behind the camera, and the consequences of that decision. Sevigny replied that she had to work hard, at first, to summon up the self-confidence to take this step. And for her it was the next logical step in a period of physical and mental growth that had led her, at one point, to try to carve out a different role for herself in the film industry, one that would give her more control and more independence, after she had often felt that, as an actress, she was working for everyone else.

The same need to take charge and decide for herself was behind Rowlson-Hall's move into directing. She confessed she always feels somewhat dissatisfied and anxious to express her own opinion when she's "just" a dancer and choreographer. She did say, though, that she has vastly appreciated the chance to learn from others' work, which represented a learning process that made her a better director.

Over the course of the conversation Sevigny talked a bit about her upcoming project, another short still awaiting funding and set to start shooting next spring. "It's going to be about women who use their own power to manipulate others," she said.

In the afternoon, the second talk for Miu Miu Women's Tales featured Kate Bosworth and Zosia Mamet, both of whom are actresses and producers. After introducing them, Penny Martin asked her guests about the reasons for a career shift that had led them to found two production companies.

Mamet admitted that, as an actress, she had often felt uncomfortable when working on a project she didn't really believe in. Her even stronger motivation, however, was the feeling that after years and years of acting credits, she could finally make an important contribution to the creative process behind filmmaking.

Bosworth was of a like mind: "I set out on a quest to find something that would let me do the creating." In any case, although she had the privilege of choosing her own roles, her decision was also influenced by the irritation she felt at the way men are always tapped first for a cast.

The two artists then naturally turned to a discussion of how important it still is, today, to talk about the position of women in the film industry. As actresses, for example, they are rarely given credit for making their characters believable.

Mamet admitted that she was disappointed to see that within such a marginalized group - women, in this case - what was missing was solidarity. Competition runs high and the avenues to success are few. "It's really odd," she said. "We should realize that if the water rises, we'll all drown, but instead…"


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