Nora Ephron: "When You Direct A Movie, What You Are Is A Director, Not A ‘Woman Director.'”

In light of certain godly invocations within the actor-director dynamic, we wondered just yesterday what difference, if any, the gender of the director made in all this. The Daily Beast takes a stab at the question today.

The one actress in the story, Abbie Cornish, says about working with Jane Campion in Bright Star, "I just notice, with a female director, there's definitely more of a connection to the emotion and the feeling of a scene, and the physicality. They're much more intimate on set."

But the director quoted in the piece, Nora Ephron, markedly disagrees (which of course may just be chalked up to the particularities of Ephron and Campion themselves). "When you direct a movie, what you are is a director, not a ‘woman director,'" Ephron says. "When you make a movie, there is not the remotest sense on a day to day basis that you are not exactly the same as anyone else who directs a movie."

The Hurt Locker director Kathryn Bigelow has also often resisted dwelling on her gender, a theme Manohla Dargis ran with in her June profile of Bigelow in the Times:

The take on Kathryn Bigelow is that she is a great female director of muscular action movies,.... Sometimes, more simply, she's called a great female director. But here's a radical thought: She is, simply, a great filmmaker. Because while it is marginally interesting that she calls "action" and "cut" while in the possession of two X chromosomes, gender is the least remarkable thing about her kinetic filmmaking, which gets in your head even as it sends shock waves through your body.

But there's also a lesson in the rest of Ephron's interview, in which she worries aloud that there's "a sense that when you write about [the issue of women in Hollywood], or participate in something that's being written about it, you become part of something that feels like a way to compartmentalize it and marginalize it and minimize it in a way that no one does with movies that are aimed at the male quadrants....So when there's this kind of flurry of articles about it, it really does feel as if it's a way to just push it to the side in a separate kind of meaningless category."

This doesn't have to be true — plenty of the conversation about women in film is by people who lament our narrow representation and want to celebrate, or at least analyze, anything that breaks out of that. Then again, those are not the same people calling the shots in Hollywood, where the conversation seems stuck in the hoary cliche that being the "woman director" is something to be embarrassed about or rejected.

Finally, The Year Of The Woman? [The Daily Beast]

Related: Action! Kathryn Bigelow Makes Movies That Go For The Gut

Earlier: Directors Give Actresses The Power Of Zeus
Fuck Them: Times Critic On Hollywood, Women, And Why Romantic Comedies Suck
Bright Star, Dimmed: On Female Movies And Being Overlooked At Awards Season