Of the various men's clubs reluctantly desegregated by feminism, the movie industry has been one of the more resilient to change. Still largely a boy's game, big-league moviemaking has proved particularly resistant to female infiltration, and the story of this challenge to masculine privilege makes for one of the more fascinating, if marginalised, chapters in movie history. This is the story told by filmmakers Janis Cole and Holly Dale (P4W, Hookers . . . on Davie) in their new film, Calling the Shots.
The result of countless hours of research, screening and interviews, the film is a lively, absorbing survey of the role of women in filmmaking past and present. From the historical contributions made by the likes of Dorothy Arznerand Ida Lupino, to the contemporary travails of people tike Claudia Weill (Girlfriends) Margarethe von Trotta (Rosa Luxemburg) and Penelope Spheeris (The Decline of Western Civilisation II: The Metal Years), Cole and Dale's film chronicles the battles still being fought by women making feature films.
While the sensibilities and approaches surveyed by the film are markedly different, they remain united by a single sense of professional overdrive: if movie making is a tough business under ordinary circumstances, it can be hell if you happen to be female. What these women have endured to practise their art is, quite frankly, amazing.
At once informative, funny and alarming, Calling the Shots stands as the first cinematic account of an ill-recorded but vital chapter in the women's movement— a movement that has come a long way and has a long way to go. -Kay Armatage, Toronto Film Festival