×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Babyteeth’ Director Wants Us to Focus on Her Artistry, Not Her Gender

Babyteeth” was one of only two films from women directors participating in the main competition at the Venice Film Festival, and the film’s helmer Shannon Murphy thinks that’s important. Although not at the expense of the art.

While many of the questions fielded by Murphy, her cast and crew at Wednesday’s pre-premiere press conference dealt with music, themes of self-medication, appealing to young audiences and Rita Kalnejais’ screenplay adaptation of her stage play, the conversation inevitably came around to the filmmaker’s two X chromosomes and what they mean in industry terms.

“I think it’s a struggle to always have to answer questions about being a female filmmaker if I’m being honest,” she replied when asked if she’s comfortable as a woman working in the industry. “It takes away from the artistry of what we are doing and our production. The conversation is important but in the right context, at dedicated panels. Otherwise it overshadows the film.”

She was full of praise for Screen Australia’s Gender Matters initiative and the state of the industry in her home country. Her producer Jan Chapman, Oscar-nominated for “The Piano,” was in full agreement.

Popular on Variety

“There are six or seven films from women about to be released in Australia so I’m very positive about the openness in the world to see how great female-led films are,” the producer said.

Having put a pin in the topic, the conversation shifted back to the film itself.

“Rita approaches the story with an unsentimental humor that makes it difficult to wallow in the darkness of the story,” said rising star and lead actress Eliza Scanlen (“Sharp Objects,” “Little Women”) of the screenplay.

“You know good writing if you don’t have to work as hard,” followed up co-star Toby Wallace. “You find yourself getting emotional just from the dialogue or circumstances.”

The film’s most recognizable star and one of Australia’s main cinematic exports, Ben Mendelsohn, got emotional simply speaking about the film.

“Rita’s script was such a palpable and beautiful rendering of the finest virtues of Australia,” he said before half-joking, “One thing about Australia is you can be something of a complete mess there and be embraced and acceptable, hence my longevity.”

“All the finest virtues of the country are in this piece and it’s a powerful love story and very life affirming from a bunch of contemporary, messy, damaged people… I think it’s a beautiful piece. I wanna cry just talking about it.”

More Film

  • Arab and African Filmmakers Are Increasingly

    Arab and African Filmmakers Are Increasingly Focusing on Genre Films and Series

    2019 has been an excellent year for films from Africa and the Middle East, with a higher presence in A-list festivals, and kudos for films such as Mati Diop’s “Atlantics,” which won the Grand Prix at Cannes. The “new wave” of Arab and African cinema includes a small group of films that explore links with [...]

  • Producer Said Hamich on 'Zanka Contact,'

    Producer Said Hamich on Atlas Workshop Winner 'Zanka Contact,' Upcoming Projects

    Two projects from Franco-Moroccan producer Saïd Hamich won big at the Marrakech Film Festival’s Atlas Workshop this year, with the upcoming Kamal Lazraq-directed feature “Les Meutes” nabbing a development prize and the recently wrapped “Zanka Contact” winning an $11,000 post-production grant. “Zanka Contact” director Ismaël El Iraki was on-hand to present 10 minutes of footage, [...]

  • Major Film Festivals Are Becoming Key

    Major Film Festivals Are Becoming Key in Promoting Films From the Arab World, Africa

    Looking back at the lineups of key festivals such as Cannes and Venice this year, 2019 stands out as a banner year for movies from the African continent and the Arab world. During a panel hosted at the Netflix-sponsored industry event Atlas Workshops during the Marrakech Film Festival, Rémi Bonhomme, who works at Cannes’ Critics’ [...]

  • Robert RedfordRobert Redford tribute, 18th Marrakech

    Robert Redford Talks About Potential Next Film, U.S. Politics, Life Philosophy

    During a 90-minute onstage conversation at the Marrakech Film Festival, where he received an honorary tribute, Robert Redford spoke about his life-long quest for truth and freedom, and his political engagement through films, as well as a long-gestating project he’s considering producing, despite having announced his retirement. When he has spoken about the project, “109 [...]

  • For Sama SXSW Cannes Documentary

    'For Sama' Wins Best Feature at International Documentary Association Awards

    Syrian Civil War diary “For Sama” has won the best feature award from the International Documentary Association for Waad al-Kateab and Edward Watts. The award was presented by Frances Fisher on Saturday night at the 35th Annual IDA Documentary Awards at Paramount Studios in Los Angeles. The first-time award for Best Director went to Steven Bognar and Julia [...]

  • Two/One

    Macao Film Review: 'Two/One'

    Sometimes when you look out of an airplane window during a long-haul flight you get a view like the God’s-eye imagery that occasionally punctuates Argentinian filmmaker Juan Cabral’s intriguing debut: a dark, curved horizon rimmed with the glimmer of a new dawn. “Two/One,” the celebrated advertising director’s first full-length feature, seems born of this lofty, [...]

  • Colombia’s ‘Valley of Souls’ Wins Marrakech’s

    Colombia’s ‘Valley of Souls’ Wins Marrakech’s Etoile d’Or

    The 18th edition of the Marrakech Intl. Film Festival awarded the Etoile d’Or for best film to Colombia’s “Valley of Souls,” directed by Nicolás Rincón Gille. In his acceptance speech the director said: “Colombia is a country that people know very little about. But in this film I try to offer a glimpse of the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content