I need some advice here. I teach a course on film and literature at an all-girls school. Itís a popular course, and fun: the final project involves the students writing, producing and editing their own short (15-20 min.) film. They learn a lot about how movies are made: especially how stories are transferred from the written word (novels and screenplays) to the visual medium.
The two main novels of the course are Chocolat, by Joanne Harris, and Mrs. Dalloway, by Virginia Woolf. Iím not a fan of the movie Chocolat (which obscenely sanitizes the novel), but the students like it, and itís not terrible. The students also like The Hours, an excellent film once removed from Mrs. Dalloway. (I also like the Cunningham novel, but I want to use novels written by women.) I used to use the Color Purple, but the students largely found that to be unreadable. (Imagine: they like reading Virginia Woolf better than Alice Walker. I know, right?) Iím saddened that some of my favorite novels have been made into horrible movies (Beloved, In the Time of the Butterflies) or havenít even been adapted (Poisonwood Bible, God of Small Things).
In and around the study of these novels (and how they are turned into filmable stories), we read some short stories (and discuss their filmable qualitiesósome become adapted for their final project). And we watch moviesógood onesóas they learn to be discerning viewers and filmmakers. And this is where Iím having trouble--because Iíd like as much of the course to be women-centered as possible, and this is an industry that is still largely dominated by men.
So please help me with some suggestions on potential films to show this class. Here are my criteria:
1) must be a GOOD film. I realize that definitions of ďgoodĒ will naturally vary. My students, after all, still think the Twilight movies are ďgood.Ē I at least want to expand upon their narrow definition (which usually means, simply, ďI liked itĒ) and maybe expose them to something they otherwise might not see (like The Hours, above.)
2) must be women-centered. I want a movie that does more than just pass the Bechdel test or center on a Smurfette. I want movies that tell real, engaging stories about women.
3) must have women heavily involved the creative process: as producer, director, screenwriter, or even novelist (of the work the film was adapted from, if applicable). Iíd love to have all four, but there are very, very few such films, alas.
4) not rated R. This isnít an absolute, but for every movie I show thatís rated R, I have to send home permission slips and have multiple conversations with parents. Iím not worried about the conversations (they are, surprisingly, almost always pleasant and productive) so much as the time and hassle. Better to avoid, if possible.
Time frame (of when movie was made or set) and genre are flexible, as long as thereís some variance over the course of the semester.
Some movies Iíve used in the past, with varying degrees of success (some of which donít fit all of my criteria, hence my desire to expand my list), and some which I am considering:
The Trip to Bountiful
The Piano (even with permission slips, I didnít show the more graphic scenes)
Les Triplettes de Belleville
The Joy Luck Club
Raise the Red Lantern
Sense and Sensibility
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Now itís your turn. Comments on the above, or any suggestions to add to the list, would be most welcome.
Oh, and by the way: Hi!