TIFF 2016 Women directors : meet April Mullen  “Below her mouth”

April Mullen’s previous features include “88,” an action thriller, and “Dead Before Dawn 3D,” which confirmed Mullen as the youngest person and first female to direct a live action stereoscopic 3D feature film. She is being honored with the TIFF Birk Diamond, a tribute to Women in Film, at this year’s Festival.

“Below Her Mouth” will premiere at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival on September 10.

W&H: Describe the film for us in your own words.

AM: In “Below Her Mouth,” we bare witness to the electrifying laws of attraction when two unexpected souls collide and share in love, heart break, sex, and simple moments that stay with them and us forever.

W&H: What drew you to this story?

AM: The challenge of catching the magic, the spark, that happens between two people in the moment they start to fall in love. At the time of the project I had recently experienced this rush and was able to identify with the script and characters immediately.

There’s a simple honesty in the script: it leaves room for unique silences and large choices. It’s bold. It pushed boundaries sexually, posed questions, and allowed me to discover a whole new world.

W&H: What do you want people to think about when they are leaving the theater?

AM: That love is love. I want them to be refreshed and tantalized by our story; to feel free; to challenge their perceptions of gender, lust, and intimacy; to continue to allow yourself to let go.

W&H: What was the biggest challenge in making the film?

AM: The biggest challenge was our original intention to have the film be truly from the female perspective. While shot listing and blocking I was always stopping myself from thinking about images I had seen my whole life, because those sexual images and scenes from film, television, and campaigns are 95 percent directed by, written by, and made for men.

I wanted to express a woman’s view of intimacy, honesty, lust, sex, love, and what turns us on — what takes us to the point of no return.

W&H: How did you get your film funded? Share some insights into how you got the film made.

AM: The film is financed by Telefilm Canada and the OMDC, government funding agencies that took a wonderful risk on a new generation of filmmakers and audiences that are waiting to go to theaters for new, raw, uninhibited, and passionate films.

W&H: What does it mean for you to have your film play at TIFF?

AM: It’s such an important and special film to have premiere at this world-renowned film festival. I feel honored. The film reminds us all to be open to the world, to new experiences and people, to challenge our perceptions, and to bask in love if we find it or see it.

W&H: What’s the best and worst advice you’ve received?

AM: I have a very long list in both columns.

The worst advice: for 20 years people saying to me that the entertainment industry is too difficult.

The best advice: to never doubt. It’s simple, but translates to absolutely everything. Once you’ve committed to a film, it’s go, go, go, until you see it on the screen. The amount of times things literally blow up and breakdown are nearly infinite, so for years you need to forge on with nothing but wild tenacity until you finally cross the finish line.

W&H: What advice do you have for other female directors?

AM: Find your voice, and then get focused. Start creating and create everyday. Dare to explore, challenge yourself and live fully — it will amplify your work. Set the bar higher than you can imagine.

W&H: Name your favorite woman-directed film and why.

AM: At the moment it’s “American Honey” directed by Andrea Arnold. I saw it at Cannes and it makes me want to scream and jump into the sky at how much I stand in awe of this film.

It’s heavy impact and subtle statement on the world we currently live in is frightening and exhilarating all at the same time. The moments between and within the characters were so natural and intense, I haven’t been able to shake the film since watching it — it was reinvigorating.

W&H: What are the filmmaking opportunities for women in your country? Have you seen recent improvements? What do you think needs to be done see some significant change?

AM: The opportunities in Canada are everywhere for artists and filmmakers. Recently the awareness of how few women are in the entertainment industry is spreading like wildfire, which is an improvement. The low percentage of women in the current industry says it all. This awareness needs to not only be a hot button topic, but one that continues, so it can make a real impact.

To see significant changes we need to support and celebrate the women that currently have a career in the industry. Through putting a spotlight on them, we will be able to reach the next generation of women. We need them to see that it is possible to be a filmmaker. They will be attracted to that possibility, rather then daunted by the low percentages.

Source : Women & Hollywood (09.09.2016)


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