Why it's important for women to direct films like Into the Forest
The Filmmakers panel discusses how Patricia Rozema broke ground for Canadian women in film
Patricia Rozema's post-apocalyptic film Into the Forest came out a few years before the conversation about gender parity in Hollywood hit the mainstream. Rozema's film follows two sisters, played by Ellen Page and Evan Rachel Wood, as they struggle to outlast a worldwide blackout.
Was Into the Forest ahead of its time? That question was top of mind for The Filmmakers panellists in the discussion below.
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Rozema broke ground in 1987 when her film I Hear the Mermaids Singing won best first feature award at Cannes Film Festival — a huge achievement for queer cinema and Canadian film on a worldwide scale.
"It was a given [back then] that filmmakers were male," says producer Niv Fichman. "The idea of her trailblazing in those days is even more remarkable."
In Into the Forest, Evan Rachel Wood's character is assaulted by a strange man while she is chopping wood in the yard alone.
Rozema had a tough choice to make while directing the scene: how do you shoot a scene about sexual violence without glorifying it?
She chose to film the scene from Wood's point of view, in slow motion with the camera tilted sideways. The frame never follows her attacker as he leaves the scene — it stays right with Wood's character through the horrifying experience.
"What does a female director do that a male director wouldn't do with this story?" said filmmaker and journalist Chandler Levack.
"You see it in the poeticism and the subtlety of what she's doing with these actresses and their incredible performances."
Watch full episodes of the second season of The Filmmakers and the movies it celebrates on cbc.ca/watch.