Girls on Film

Feature

Friday, April 11, 2008

At New York University's Kanbar film school, undergrads are training to be the next generation of filmmakers. Jocelyn Gonzales talked to some of her students, and the school’s associate dean, Sheril Antonio, about the ways female characters are portrayed on screen and what they plan to do about it.

Contributors:

Jocelyn Gonzales

Comments [10]

Bethany from Waltham, MA

At ages 4 and 6 or so, my sister and I used to play Doris and Coco from Fame. we'd put on our dress up dresses and mom's clogs and clunked around the house. Later, I watched Fame again and asked her, with all the issues, why she let us watch such a disturbing movie. She told me that she took us to see the dancing -- we were too young to understand the story behind it. She's right. I had no idea about the story line...we DID just like the dancing. It's interesting now to look back and see who we were emulating with such a childhood innocence...and in reality that's what the movie was about, kids that were coming of age and really not yet out of their own childhood innocence.

Apr. 21 2008 01:33 PM
Amanda Watson from Salt Lake City

It was the girls I read, then saw on film who influenced me, primarily Anne Shirley.
It wasn't her spunkiness that I liked, or her arrogance. It was her creativity that I loved. She was a reader, like me. She was an imaginer, like me. She was melodramatic, like me.
But she had one thing that I didn't. I still don't and I am still trying to find that characteristic in myself. I loved how she found everything and everyone so special. I loved how she oozed with the love she held for people. She was steadfast in her attachments, she loved fiercely and everyone knew how they stood in her eyes. I am not that open with people.
In Anne Shirley, I found what I was and what I wanted to be.

Apr. 14 2008 11:08 PM
Suzanne Hoisington from Kenai, AK

I was a girl in the 70's and I loved Barbara Streisand because she was wise about life and hip enough to get Robert Redford. Her struggles were
relevant and not trivial.

Apr. 14 2008 03:21 AM
Erin Keyes from Brandon, VT

Your article on girls and media was most intriguing, but it was lacking one aspect - the villains. What about Ursula (Little Mermaid)? The Wicked Queen (Snow White)? Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty)? Cruella de Vil (101 Dalmatians)? Yzma (Emperor's New Groove)? You have to admit, these characters have stories behind them too. How did they become so wicked? These women have confidence, power, and some of the fiercest costumes that I have ever seen on the silver screen. You could say that they helped me get through a very tough time in my school life. I was the "wierdo" in class, and was teased almost constantly (especially in the third grade). I looked to the villains for strength. I have always respected the character of the villain despite its many faults.

Apr. 13 2008 06:41 PM
annikee from Vermont

Dorothy Gale of "The Wizard of Oz". Every year it was played on TV when I was a little girl, and I was mesmerized. I had 3 older brothers and nobody had time for me, either, so I identified. I also recognized the ending as being sad, that Dorothy's experience was pooh-poohed, and she was no better off than before the tornado in reality. But she'd been tested, had stuck to her guns, walked through fear, helped others, exposed truths and survived. I never realized how much it affected me until thinking about it because of your program.

Apr. 13 2008 05:04 PM
lil'tomatobirdy from nj

Tina, and Ruth [Ruby Dee] in Virgin Island [Our Virgin Island, UK], T. meets a beachcomber, and dives off of an ocean liner to join him as her mother disapprove; they have local friends who know how to live, and they choose that life. Eventually Mama sends a refrigerator, which they turn into a holding tank for a shower. The ingenuity, wisdom and humor of all the characters, just doing what was important to them and also choosing their lives despite the norm. Race is recognised, and societal prohibitions are tossed aside, as non-sensical via friendship. How well, and how subtle and realistic the cues, I don't remember, and as the little girl I was, I wouldn't have known. I want to see this again, but it fueled my spirit for a long time.
The 'Russian Princess' (Capucine) in North to Alaska-- She is a mail order bride sent for by a friend to cheer a friend up. She sticks up for love when she sees it, as she gets to know the generous friend well, removes herself when he won't own up to his feelings, there is great tension of attraction; she is valued enough to cause an all consuming brawl between men in the mud, and has the presence to get on the next ship out to escape all this foolishness, and to hold her love to it, to verbalize his feelings before she'll stay: "Why Sam, why can't I go?"

Apr. 13 2008 07:50 AM
Sabina from Washington, DC

Vivian Leigh as Scarlett O'Hara influenced me as a child. While I didn't admire the vainness and selfishness of her character, I realized that she was a much more complex character than what you saw on the surface. She was a strong and independent woman and had a core set of values that she always stayed true to (even if some of them weren't always the most admirable). She was a survivor and yet so tragic. She served as both a role model to me--as well as a cautionary tale.

Apr. 12 2008 01:54 PM
Patricia McKenna from Tucson Arizona

I am over the hill now (70) but every role Audrey Hepburn played was a MODEL for me: right from Roman Holiday thru Breakfast at Tiffany's to Nun's Story. She was always totally feminine, but had an inner strength to transform herself and withstand the vagaries of life's experiences.

Apr. 12 2008 12:35 PM
Gabrielle from NY, NY

When my sister and I were girls our favorite female character was Stephanie Zinoni played by Michelle Pfeiffer in Grease 2. (we know most people think this is a sub-par version of Grease, but we don't think so) She was gorgeous, independent, had a vision she wasn't going to give up on even if it was about her ideal man-- and had a great deep singing voice. We watched this film countless times. On the other hand, my blooming feminist character found inspiration in Working Girl with Melanie Griffith and Sigourney Weaver and Baby Boom with Diane Keaton-- any film with a woman thriving in a men's world and making tough choices with integrity, articulating her true feelings and eventually getting credit from those around her as well as finding happiness.

Apr. 12 2008 10:58 AM
Bev Worster from Lawrence, KS

I was most influenced by Jane Russell (1950s). She was beautiful but also smart and tough. She could handle a gun and guys did not mess with her. The hero was attracted to her BECAUSE she was tough and smart. She would not be a "drag" on a guy, always having to protect her, but would be a true partner who could help him defeat the bad guys.
No Marilyn Monroe, dumb blonde, was on my radar....!
When I read The Feminine Mystique in 1970, it was like a million light bulbs going off in my head.

Apr. 11 2008 11:22 AM

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