Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Nora Ephron Award

I found this article on about a new prize being entered into the Tribeca Film Festival this season:

From the article: "In a lovely gesture, the Tribeca Film Festival and have teamed up to offer a $25,000 award to the woman director or screenwriter whose work, debuting at the festival, best embodies Nora Ephron's legacy."

Being a young, aspiring filmmaker who also happens to be a woman, it can be very intimidating to look at the "boy's club" that is the movie industry and try to imagine a place for myself there. While I tend to look to people like Kathryn Bigelow, Tina Fey, and Amy Pascal as examples of people who inspire me to push through my own anxieties about my future (if they could do it, so can I), I had never really considered Nora Ephron as one of those women. She certainly made movies that I enjoyed watching (You've Got Mail was the first DVD that I ever bought with my babysitting money); yet I didn't  tend to look at her as someone doing anything particularly important with her work. Looking back, I think that it might have been because her most popular moves were Romantic Comedies, which I tend to write-off as sentimental pandering from studios who are looking to make easy money. But looking over her work, and the kinds of things that she was able to do with the women in her movies was truly groundbreaking. Her female leads weren't consumed by an incessant need to fall in love, nor were they hard-nosed, cold-heart-ed shrews who could only regain their femininity by falling for a man. Rather, they were hard working, complex women who also happened to fall in love. At the same time, the article addresses Ephron's short comings in the areas of race, economic status, and I would add sexuality. 

The Woolf connection here is stated outright in the article: "it's [the cash prize] a substantial cushion, an updated version of Virginia Woolf's 'money and a room of her own,'." As I said before, it's scary to jump into a world that is dominated by men; something that Virginia Woolf would probably have understood as a young novelist. It's nice to know that there are people out there who care about increasing the role of women in the film industry and want to encourage success among the next generation. 

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