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This is the epilogue of your experience. Food is clearly a sophisticated art, possibly the most important art of the 20th century with a rather complex history of theory and practice, writes James Minako in his book How to Read a Film. So far in our podcast, The Artists, we have had filmmakers, writers, critics, programmers from some of the top film festivals, musicians, thinkers defining their combinatorial skills. We admit a physical lab have been striving to expand the realm of our broadcast, which in turn gives a wider canvas to the understanding of our experiences.
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So did you guys check the last week's episode on Wolinsky? Bloodshed was a small and snarky episode, and we decided to continue that feeling this week with a longer episode on again, honestly bloodshed, this time with the documentary filmmaker who made this feature length documentary on A.C. Blusher Going to be to the Untold Story of Wolinsky Blood Sugar. So we have with us Pamela Greene, the director of The Natural, where she goes back in time to the call about Alice.
And it is because of all that we know more on Alice. After a hundred and twenty five years, the film has some of the most important vids from some of the most important people in the business of filmmaking. It's been executive produced by Robert Redford. Jodie Foster, it's called Voiceover by Jodie Foster. It's got some of the most important women filmmakers and otherwise giving bitts. That is Julie Taymor. That is Jodie Delfi. There is Agnes Water.
That is Walter Marsh, the editor, and many more. Be Green is an Emmy nominated, award winning filmmaker and founder of the BBC and Entertainment and Motion Design Boutique. She's a Sundance Institute documentary film recipient of Documentable Natural The Untold Story of Dynarski. She was Fishelson Action Against Food Festival and Classics, Telluride and Life BFI. The film released theatrically to critical acclaim in the U.S. and is opening slowly worldwide. It was nominated for a Critic's Choice Documentary Award, and when I think of a design, she creative directors, producers, film and TV titles and graphics such as the Bourne series, The Muppets, Twilight, Supergirl to No.
One packages, she advises on the story sequences and directs commercials for the audience. That's so, ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Batman to be green. Enjoy. Hi, Pamela. Welcome to a podcast, the authors, and such a pleasure to have you and our Sinophile audience and our listeners are going to be delighted to meet the director of B Natural, of course, the documentary film on the first woman director at Leslie Bloche.
And thanks to your documentary, Baramulla, that we are finding her after 125 years. How did you find her?
Well, first of all, thank you so much for having me. It's it's always an honor to talk about financial analyst. Alice was discovered by the academic world, so I can't fully take credit for that. But when you do research and you write books and thesis and all these different things, you you pick a slice of the person, whether it's discussing the films or discussing papers or different things and. I had found out about her. There was a show on television about pioneering women in cinema and by Barbra Streisand and with Shirley MacLaine that introduced her and I was just completely blown away.
I think she appeared in my life at a time that I was ready to look at the world from a different lens, because my day job, I do opening credits for films, I worked on award shows, commercials, etc. but it was predominantly male dominated and I didn't think twice about it. I just accepted it. And I really didn't think about a first woman film director because it just wasn't something to think about. Just, Oh, I know Kathryn Bigelow.
I know I can start. I know different filmmakers, but I never thought of a first and the the amount of impact that this woman had on cinema. So I was intrigued and it started as something very simple of looking her up. And then I left it alone. Then I asked more people and you just ask people. And the more I questioned and ask people, the more I realized, wait a minute, nobody knows what I'm talking about.
I need to do because I felt that it's so important for an audience outside of the academic world and especially younger generation to make her accessible, her story accessible so they would know that cinema was created by both the male and female genders.
Absolutely. Absolutely. Also, I remember, Pamela, towards the end of the film, you repeated this one specific shot where she mentioned that she tried to get her memoir published and nobody wanted to publish it. And when she passed away in 1968, it got published eight years later.
So why do you think there has been this lag about not getting the credential of this this woman, this amazing first woman filmmaker out there? Well, I think it's so many reasons cinema wasn't taken seriously, nobody cared.
It was such an enormous task to try to find this woman's films that were, you know, the scene of her as a director. They didn't do that back then, you know, two wars, nitrate, trying to find anything to give her any kind of credentials that would support what she had said in the memoirs. A lot of people didn't believe her because she didn't have a family that preserved and collected her films like Amelia's family, etc.. So if a lady says she did all this stuff and she doesn't have the proof, maybe some letters and some documents that weren't taking her seriously, it was a huge time of year after she died to look at that period again and start the restoration process of not just hours, but many, many other filmmakers.
And, you know, the obvious thing is she was a woman. So, you know, if somebody said in the 50s, you know, this woman did all this stuff in the 40s, the 60s, I mean, nobody, you know, they would say, yeah, right. You know, I don't believe that for a minute. So and also there was a lot of identity theft in a different way where a lot of people were taking credit for her work.
And, of course, they believed those people because the woman seemed to some so many variables as to why. And it's there was so many things going against her. If she would have lived maybe a little bit longer and maybe more would have been found and she would have gotten maybe a little bit more recognition. But when it's a little bit of a Greek tragedy. But we fixed it now.
So did you feel better about being a woman director in today's times? I don't know about feeling better because it's been a struggle for me all the way through, I need be natural. It opened in can. It's going to tell me why they went to all these different places. It was probably going to be nominated for an Oscar. I mean, I don't know what that means, really, but I don't have my name or email or phone number is not on anybody's Rolodex.
Oh, let's call Pamela Green and let's get her to direct this film and let's get it to do that. So I made my own way up until now. So I don't expect that to change any time soon. But I'm OK with that because at least the stories that I want to tell, it's ten times harder. But the satisfaction is there's so much more satisfaction because I get to pave the way for myself and stories I want to tell and that and hopefully I get to inspire others of don't wait for other people, get out there and do it yourself so you can make your own content.
Yeah, that's a yes, that's a huge statement. But I mean, considering it's coming from you, someone whose film has gone to the biggest and the best of festivals, there is still so much struggle for women filmmakers out there. I mean, it's unimaginable.
You know what? You've got to put that aside and you just have to push through and you have to align yourself with people that want to see you succeed and and want to work with you and grow with you and don't have ulterior motives and interest only to push themselves forward. And I think that's what's very special about financial. It's completely donation based. Everybody in the project is pretty much selfless. And, you know, they they joined a movement based on my passion to get this woman out in the world and all these countries and different languages do so.
So tell me, Pamela, when you decided that this is the story that must be told. What is the immediate couple of steps that you did that to ensure that this gets on the right track? There's never like a perfect world of how you go about doing not a linear way, right. Especially at people and a lot of people tell you, you know, and then you just start doing your own research by yourself at night because you have a day job and you start telling other people about it and they want to get involved.
And then John Simon had done a exhibition as a curator for the Whitney in New York in 2009. So I contacted her because there was a book that was published and we met and she says, you're going to do this. So whether she put a spell on me or not, I don't know.
It just becomes like this. It's a snowball, you know, and it's slowly building. And I was writing my own checks and just spending my own money. And then I didn't have any more money to do that. And I did a Kickstarter. And so the Kickstarter, we found donors. Genndy executive told one lady, Gentlemen Dreifus, who bought in Virginia Skully and then Jamie Wolf.
And then Hugh Hefner donated. And it just became like a snowball of people that wanted to be a part of restoring this woman at a larger scale. Mm hmm. And it took 10 years, almost 10 years. Oh, my God.
That's that's that's a huge, huge amount of time. But tell me about writing the script. Pamela, did you write the script? How do you to set the tone for it? How did you sort of was it like organic? Did you plan everything? You've got your voiceover. You got Jodie Foster. Oh, my God. I'm a huge fan of Jodie Foster, her voice there.
She's also the executive producer of Another Strong. So how did how did how did this whole the visual treatment of the film come together? I did a treatment of what I thought would be interesting, I didn't write a script because I didn't do anything that was conventional. Everybody kept telling me, you know what you're doing. You know, you have to do this. You have to do an outline. And I was like, you know what? I don't really care about what you have to say right now.
I just need to find new material because I find new material. That's what's going to unfold is the story, because it's like you have to read this, you have to be that. And I don't want to be associated with what had been done before. I wanted to find new things because I thought a detective story would be more interesting for me personally, finding papers, finding films, finding descendants, all these different things. And once I found all of this stuff, that took quite a long time.
How do you put it together?
So Jodie had come along at the very beginning when I told her about the project she wanted to narrate, which is exactly what you want. We wanted. And then I didn't see her for five years. It's only as I was collecting the material that I was putting together the pieces to the puzzle. I knew how I was going to open the film. I had an idea how I was going to end it roughly.
And then once all the material was collected, we had binders of letters from ninety five to ninety four to nineteen sixty four and they were all translated into English and basically at that point I knew exactly almost where she was. And each period of her life, so was able to put together a timeline and then that's when we started writing the narration, and that's how towards the end is when the narration started really coming together.
And that became script, but really, I never edited a film before, let alone even are we are to my day job, so I went from not even doing that to editing a phone. Yes, that was pretty ridiculous.
That was awesome. I saw your name. Oh, my God. You've done most of the important jobs there. And I'm like, you need to do this if you want to get your film off ground and out there. So that's brilliant. But know, you mentioned this in the documentary. So we know about Edison, you know Malleus, you know, Lumière brothers. We, of course, do not know to Skip Loescher. But Hitchcock mentioned her and so did Eisenstein.
Both were influenced by her.
And of course, at that point, there was no language photography was, you know, there and everybody was discovering the language of cinema. Do you think, as you made this documentary, I just last year was a major contributor in designing discovering the language of cinema because she also used synchronized sound, special effects and all these things at that point, which I believe Lumiere and Edison were also discovering the same point. Yeah, I mean, I don't like ever using first because I think she's part of a first, and that's great.
I mean, just being part of a group and she's definitely one of the initial experiments with experimenting trial and error, you know, and that's when you starting out and you're making short films or, you know, you try things out. Is this going to work? Is that going to work? Or even she was editing her own films.
So John Simon was the one who found the Hitchcock aspect. And then I had seen a film called The Story of Film actually is a series by Mark Cousins, who loves Alice, too. And he had a section Eisenstein.
And honestly, I didn't go to film school, so I didn't even know Eisenstein like some stuff here and there. Obviously I knew the basics, but I wasn't into any of that. But when I was looking at the section that he was talking about, Eisenstein, and he was showing some of the the one of his films, I asked a researcher that was working for me, can you see if maybe Eisenstein mentioned Alice and like, oh, that's impossible.
Bevilaqua. Oh. Then we went through his memoirs and he talked about the film, the consequences of feminism, so I think why be natural resonates with people in a way is because you have to think about the impossible to make it possible. And I think if you stuck to the material that is known out there and you're not open to new information, then you shooting yourself in the foot because you could discover so many things. If you question what you're looking at and you wonder and have some kind of imagination of what the possibilities were, if the woman wrote about it to produce a thousand films, somebody was watching the stuff that was growing up because the stuff was being distributed in all these places.
So that's how these discoveries came about. And I remember even the academy in in Los Angeles, I had asked to look at a person's materials in the library and I got pushback on that because I was told. I can't let you look at this stuff. Just some mention of Alice, and there's not going to be anything about her. Well, in fact, it was so it's unfortunate that some of the gatekeepers are old school and narrow minded. But I think at the end would be natural.
We win because we get to show that, yes, you need to be open minded and open your archives because you could be sitting on something that can be a piece to a puzzle to somebody else's life, but is a good student in the film.
And you ask about Alice and she says that they have a classroom with a name written on it, but she does not know who was Alice Bloodshed.
Is that a reflection on the future of cinema future of making movies where the current law is not aware about the history? No, I think it's better now because the movie opened in France, so it's actually playing in France, I think it was a screening last week.
So I think it took two years to get distribution in France to be a little bit shameful, but not surprising.
Oh, my God.
I think it's up to the professors in the schools to do the research, to do their homework, to show this person. And it's up to the future generation to carry this with them, to the next thing that they do. So they tell other people and keep sharing and sharing and sharing. And what's great about being natural is that it is out there in the world. It's going to open in Brazil and Ecuador and Mexico. We just won the award for Fugo International Footage.
And it's just another way. For her, her to be rediscovered over and over again. So I think the younger generation definitely has fallen in love with her, the pop culture, she's been listed in many things. And the key is just to continue to pass on the baton, keep mentioning her in books, keep changing the books and, you know, making her films available. Hopefully they are available in the U.S., some of them. So we just need to keep making sure that people discover her with all the materials that are out there because of being natural and the different archives that have helped get the story out there.
Pamela, what do you think in terms of if we had not we had not had a blusher, what part of cinema we would have missed so much an entrepreneur, a great a great writer, humor, universal storytelling, and also looking at it through the female gaze. Right.
So when you were making the documentary, you found that everything was getting discovered in a way it did and created. And worse is now where we have everything ready. So when you actually came out of the documentary, you do get that?
Because I got that feel while I was watching the film and I felt that this is a cost to be kind of a film where you're isolated in a in an existence where you are doing every single thing by your own self and suddenly you are back into the civilization where even lighting, you know, Aleida seems so precious at that point.
Yeah, I guess it took me a while.
I was kind of like a little bit of a postpartum depression, I guess, if that's what we're talking about after the film. I watch so much and definitely I haven't talked to people in a long time. I had to completely focus and I'm still a little bit like that. I used to be extremely outgoing and covid you don't go anywhere.
I go from my living room to my bedroom, but definitely I've become a different person and much more introverted in some respects. But I still have a sense of humor as someone I have worked together on another project and I don't really. Get ideas persay for movies or. You know, TV persay, when I'm doing a new project, I think about architecture, I think about, you know, reading different things that are interesting to me. I just go about things a little bit differently.
And I don't care really what other people are doing. If I enjoy watching it, great. But I'm not trying to compete with anybody else. I'm just trying to do my own thing and definitely a different person after making the documentary for sure.
Sure. And terms of distribution. How easy or how difficult was it?
Despite what? Despite the fact that it's gone through the best festivals. Well, yes, exactly. So nobody wanted it, they felt there was no marketability and nobody would see it and they threw it to the wind. So then we took over the sails ourselves into the different territories to make sure there's a theatrical release everywhere. So it's Russia. In Poland, it's going to play in Germany. It's playing in Brazil soon, France, UK. And we're working on it.
It's going to open in China. I mean, it's kind of but that's our work because I was not going to let anybody dictate how this movie was going to go out and I wasn't going to listen to them telling me, just give it up and that's it. This is over because I didn't believe it. So I don't care if I influence one person in one country. I don't care as long as they're going to tell everybody. So we can't let corporations or streamers or studios tell you how to get your content out there.
As an independent filmmaker, it's your responsibility to see it through, because if you spend the time and this is specific, it's not just a documentary, it's restoring. Somebody's back into the world of cinema where she belongs. So it's a little bit more than just a film, you know, it's an obligation to ours.
Absolutely, totally. And and I hope it comes to India soon as well. And we get to watch it on the bigger screens.
It'll be Bashmilah in terms of, you know, you've got the best out there. You've got to get Julianne Moore. You've got an insider. You've got Julie Delfi, Gina Davis AWA. I mean, Jodie Foster for boys Walter. How did you manage to get all these big names? Begging and begging. I think it's up to years, two years to get Walter Mirch, John Simon and work with Agnes Varda. So that was wonderful. And she loved Alice before Julie Taymor.
I think it was like 80 emails to her publicist until and then when she saw it, she fell in love with Alice.
It's kind of if you're a true filmmaker as a woman and you look at it, it's it's hard not to fall in love with Alice. I'm just the messenger. But it did help to have Jodie as the narrator.
And Robert Redford was my first executive producer. He's the first man behind Wolinsky blessing to jump this project. So I'd worked on three of his films and we talked about it for two years. And then he came on and it was very straightforward.
I said, you got to help me with this. You know, I've got to get this thing going. He's like, well, what do you want to do with this? Because he was shocked as well. And I said, I think I should make a documentary. And of course, I always say if I could go back in time and strangle myself, I would be making a documentary is difficult. And I thought I'd find the tape of the daughter, cut some stuff together.
I'd be done. But I became obsessed and it just it was never enough. And there was so many things going against me, so many people telling me, what do you do? You never going to get it done. And people left the project in the middle. They made up stories that they needed to have surgeries or all this stuff, not to see it through and go through the sweat and tears. And once to get accepted to Cannes.
They were the first people to post on Facebook. All the credit, so I have to deal with that so a lot of people like to ride the wave instead of actually doing the rowing of the boat. So Customizer is a rower. She's got the muscles. John is a rower. And, you know, all the people that help fund this, they they gave me a motor. They gave an engine to the boat.
Yes. Yes, totally. I think. And give me one advice to filmmakers out there. Who are you, you know, venturing out, making films, documentary films, specifically. What is it one thing you would like to tell them? Don't give up. Be persistent and make sure you have. You might not see the story right away, but keep gathering the material, keep doing the research, don't go on Wikipedia, you know things. If somebody says they have something, you don't call them once and that's it.
Annoy the hell out of somebody until you get what you need for your project. And don't give up on funding because the more you bug people, the more you push, the more you put in the work. They're going to join you.
If somebody tells, you know, that should give you more energy, more fuel to go and do it. And you should cut that person out.
Don't take no for an answer. More energy and keep going for it. Thank you so much, Pamela, for your time and for for this beautiful talk.
So cinema was not created by one gender, but by both genders. But we see sentimentalise of one gender also doubled us up with episode number twenty four with the most amazing filmmaker Cousins who has made this 14 hour marathon. Women make film with one eighty three women filmmakers and not to be missed. You want to come out of Indrajit. So that's it folks. Take good care of yourself. Have a great weekend. Enjoy the festive season, be good to others and not floating around as a flu pandemic is a word.
No it's not, although we are still under attack.