Friday, March 18, 2011

penny and jen

PL: No wonder she missed. I have to admit that I questioned the physical competence of your characters: hunting with a crossbow, or boating on rapids. It didn’t seem like any of you knew what you were doing. I wondered how much of my reading was just plain sexist, and how much “real” incompetence I was detecting.

JM: I am happy that you asked me that question, because the question of competence is so interesting to me.  I remember when I discovered Peggy Ahwesh’s films and totally fell in love and was inspired to become the kind of filmmaker [I became]. Someone had written that Peggy’s films were always on the edge of flying apart.  That she was willing to take the risk of the charge of incompetence, the payoff being that you might get something utterly unique, and possibly far more real. The question of competence in relation to women and filmmaking is where my art lives. Every filmmaker should find a place of doubt that’s also transcendent. I don’t know what that is; it’s pretty much in the realm of poetics. But I know that when I was applying to Bard for my MFA, Peggy had to defend my films to a skeptical faculty, who thought the work looked incompetent. And, in defense of my films, she made up this term, the “fuck you” school of filmmaking: Super 8, hand-processed, 1-to-1 shooting ratio, a certain kind of unexplained intimacy, et cetera.