Atlanta Film Chat Episode 70: Producer & Actress Jessica Leigh Smith (The Sunday Lady, Alyssa's Tips for Easy Parenting)

Producer and actress Jessica Leigh Smith came on to talk about her film The Sunday Lady, the faith based film market, the struggles women face in the film industry, and much more!

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Kicking Ass Only as a Feminist Knows How, Does Atlanta Have a Diablo Cody?

Via Women and Hollywood, one of my favorite blogs, Melissa Silverstein linked through to some soundbites on the state of feminism in Hollywood from Diablo Cody.

For some, Cody is a refreshing, original voice. For others, Oscar for Best Original Screenplay notwithstanding, her scripts are nails on a chalkboard. I personally think she's got some great chops when it comes to crafting characters. Her ability to craft characters and dialogue that can engender such a visceral response in audiences is a strength in my eyes, not a deficiency. If you are an anti-Codyite, please take a five second pause before the next time you bitch about weak dialogue and bland protagonists in some of this summer crop of films.

Putting her scripts aside, just as a woman writer in the biz, she is one of the only overtly feminist behind the camera creatives who speak out on a regular basis. It's a trait I admire because as someone who's drawn to great characters and as a black dude who has had to endure one too many craptacular minority characters who are best forgotten, I would love to see the pantheon of memorable female onscreen characters expand. Cody is one of the folks who can do it.

Of her quotes on Tressugar that jumped out at me, this one intrigued me the most:

On being a feminist filmmaker: "If anything we're less post-gender than 10 years ago. The Kathryn Bigelow thing was awesome, but it's difficult to be a feminist filmmaker. No one wants you pressing your feminist agenda on nice clean celluloid. It doesn't sell."

This got me to thinking. With the South's tradition of strong female writers in the literary world, is there currently a female filmmaker in the A who is creating overtly feminist work and known for it?

I'd like to be able to name a woman director/screenwriter based in Atlanta who has a CV that can answer that question in the affirmative. As someone who works for a film festival, you'd think I'd know.

It's 2010 and for a city that reinvents itself so often, as a region that has had such a complicated history with sex, gender and race, I feel like Atlanta should be the epicenter of some interesting work. We could blame funding and lack of resources, yet, with the number of short film projects out there, the ever growing number of festival submissions, and because I'm only asking for ONE freaking name, that would be a cop out.

As a city still missing too many diverse voices producing strong homegrown work, Atlanta's Film community would be a much more interesting, exciting, and frankly, fun place to be if we had a feminist filmmaker kicking ass behind the camera and in the community.

By the by, if you know someone who fits the bill, please post who they are in the comments here. Hopefully, we'll get a few names--and a starting point so I can un-ignoramus myself about who is here. If not, that's just a sign of what we got to do.