“Women Talking” by Sarah Polley, feminism on a set

“Women Talking” by Sarah Polley, feminism on a set

Canadian filmmaker Sarah Polley at the 95th Annual Oscar Nominees Luncheon in Beverly Hills, California on February 13, 2023.

“Since this morning, three male journalists have asked me if I think feminism is going too far! » Canadian director Sarah Polley has been promoting her film internationally for several months. Women Talking (in theaters March 8) with Rooney Mara and Claire Foy, adaptation of the novel what they say (Buchet-Chastel, 2018) by Canadian Miriam Toews on a series of rapes in a traditionalist Christian community in Bolivia. And her first exchanges with the French press disconcerted her. “What’s going on here?” », the 44-year-old filmmaker is surprised with a burst of laughter. “I usually tell them that the question would be relevant if women had more power and influence than men, which is still far from the case. »

Hailed by the press, Sarah Polley’s film is nominated twice for the Oscarswhose ceremony will take place in Los Angeles on Sunday March 12, in the categories best film and best adapted screenplay.

The filmmaker is not in the list of the best directors – no woman is there. “I knew I had no chance myself, comments Sarah Polley, but I was very hopeful that a black female director would be nominated. Between Alice Diop [Saint Omer]Gina Prince-Bythewood [The Woman King] and Chinonye Chukwu [Emmett Till]yet there was plenty to do… There are still things to change at the Oscars, but, in reality, I would like the reflection to focus more on systemic changes than on symbolic gestures. »

All the room for women’s words

Sarah Polley is at the forefront of this Anglo-Saxon cinema which raises the question of feminism in the image of the recent film She Said, by Maria Schraderadapted from the investigation of two journalists from the New York Times on the crimes of American producer Harvey Weinstein. The title of Sarah Polley’s film, Women Talking (“ women who talk “), is, she says, “a foil for some men” : “They feel like it’s a polite way of saying women are going to yell at them for two hours. »

This tense and dense hour forty-five indeed leaves plenty of room for the words of women arguing, questioning themselves and, for the first time in their lives, putting words to the oppression of which they are victims. The scenario is inspired by a real event: a series of rapes committed in a Mennonite community in Bolivia, during which the attackers administered a powerful anesthetic to their victims.

“As a female filmmaker, I no longer feel like I have to constantly prove my competence or my legitimacy. Sarah Polley

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