One of the big issues in the film world today is getting more female perspectives on to the silver screen, and perhaps no film better exemplifies those efforts than director April Mullen’s “Below Her Mouth,” which made its Korean premiere at the Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival on July 14.
Not content with just a female director for the lesbian love story, the film generated buzz with its all-female crew, from sets and lighting to catering.
“We wanted the actresses to feel really, really comfortable and at ease,” Mullen tells The Korea Herald at a coffeehouse on Saturday in Bucheon, Gyeonggi Province. “And we knew it was going to be a closed set and kind of sensitive material, and we wanted to allow them to feel very isolated from the world.” The idea started just with the floor crew, she adds, but extended when word got out and women started to recommend other women.
While she says she’s unlikely to follow such a hiring practice again, on others following suit she says, “I would encourage it, especially given that the percentages (of women in film production) are very low.”
“Below Her Mouth” is an 18-rated romantic drama that tells the story of Dallas, played by Swedish supermodel and actress Erika Linder, and her seduction of Natalie Krill’s Jasmine while her fiance is on a weekend business trip. Similar in a vein to last year’s breakout Korean lesbian romance “Our Love Story,” the Canadian film goes much further in its depiction of raw female physicality and the lust that intertwines itself into the love story.
“The sex in it is very much like an emotional journey and kind of exploring the laws of attraction and what propels people to want to be with another person physically, and why do we do it, and how it feels,” Mullen explains.
“I think very few films explore the female orgasm,” Mullen adds. “And that’s kind of taboo in a way. … We don’t really talk about that.”
Among other goals the flick seeks is normalizing the depiction of strap-on sexual aides. “It’s just part of our main character’s way of seducing women,” the director says. “It’s very authentic to the community — the LGBT — and what women do.”
“That’s maybe why we’re in the Forbidden section,” Mullen reflects, referring to the film being programmed in BIFAN’s Forbidden Zone. “I love that we’re forbidden. I think it’s tantalizing, and makes me want to see the film even more.”
“I think the film is very much a universal theme that ‘love is love,’ and it really comes from an honest, truthful, raw place,” she adds.
Mullen further set out to reimagine how sex is portrayed on screen. “(The struggle) was preparing for the sex scenes and making sure they were authentically from a female’s point of view, and not things that have been brainwashed into my head,” she says, pointing out that so much of what is out there is from male fantasy and that idea of what “sexy” is. The female perspective is very emotional,” the director opines. I had recently fallen desperately in love, and it came with a lot of heartbreak,” Mullen says about what led up to her making “Below Her Mouth.” “I wanted to try and express what that electrical feeling of falling in love very quickly was like — in 90 minutes.”
“Below Her Mouth” has been making its rounds on the film festival circuit since premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, but critical response has been less than stellar, with some reviews pointing to a lack of direction in dramatic narrative.
“You kind of have to walk in very open-minded and let go of this traditional moviemaking and movie-viewing experience,” Mullen says, brushing off critics. “The movie is meant to just be very simple — a slice of life in 78 hours — and it’s supposed to leave you with a feeling.”
There is a kind of response to the film the director has enjoyed, however: young women who approach her in cinema halls after screenings. “It’s way more about the impact that it’s making on the ground floor and when people come up to me and say … ‘You’ve allowed me to feel like myself,’” she emotes, “That means so much more to me.”
The director, whose previous works included teen horror flick “Dead Before Dawn 3D” and thriller “88,” is hopping genres again. She begins filming an action musical tentatively titled “Bloody Knuckles” in Ireland in October. “I hope to keep making all kinds of different films,” Muller explains. “I hope to be sort of a multigenre director. Maybe I’ll break that mold, too.”
The final screening of “Below Her Mouth” at BIFAN is at 8 p.m. on Friday. The film also appears at the 17th Korea Queer Film Festival at Lotte Cinema Broadway near Sinsa Station in Seoul at midnight on Friday and at 10 a.m. on Sunday. It is set for a nationwide release in October.
Source : Korea Herald (20/07/2017)
This year Videovision will be screening four movies at the festival. This includes the opening night’s Serpent‚ a thriller about the interaction between a husband and his unfaithful wife who are trapped in a tent with a black mamba.
Serpent is a feature debut from writer-director Amanda Evans. This will be its South African premiere after it got its international premier at the Cannes Film Festival.
Sanjeev Singh‚ director of distribution and acquisition at Videovision‚ said the film festival had taken a conscious decision to feature more accessible and high-profile films at its opening.
“It’s a different approach‚” he said. “Even Cannes‚ the greatest film festival in the world‚ open with highly commercial films. In 1992 they opened with Basic Instinct.”
Videovision has produced more than 80 feature films over the past 30 years.
This year the festival will be screening three more of their productions and acquisitions: the Canadian erotic drama Below Her Mouth; The Killing Floor‚ a local drama set in Zululand and featuring Durban theatre impresario Themi Venturas; and Viceroy’s House‚ a movie about Lord Mountbatten‚ the last Viceroy of India‚ who oversaw the transition of British India to independence. It stars Downton Abby’s Hugh Bonneville as well as Gillian Anderson‚ Michael Gambon‚ Manish Dayal and Om Puri.
The 38th Durban International Film Festival runs from 13 to 23 July at venues across the city.
Source : Times S.A. (11/07/2017)
‘Below her Mouth” will be screened at the 26th Rainbow Reel Tokyo Festival. The screening, on July 9th, will be followed by a Q&A with director April Mullen. For information about the Festival and tickets visit Rainbow Reel Tokyo.
‘Below her Mouth” will be screening at this year’s L-BEACH festival in Germany, where 4000 women will gather to party, soak in some music, culture, and sun and have the time of their lives.
The event will take place from May 11-14, 2018 at the Weissenhäuser Strand (North Germany).
April Mullen is getting used to the wild mood swings. No sooner did she open her thoughtful lesbian romance Below Her Mouth last month than she’s prepping for Saturday’s Canadian premiere of her gritty street gang drama Badsville.
Starring Emilio Rivera (Sons of Anarchy) and Robert Knepper (Prison Break), it follows a young greaser who falls in love but finds resistance when he tries to escape his violent town and the gangs that rule it.
Shortly after the release of her crime drama 88 two years ago, Mullen was contacted by Canadian producer David Phillips, who encouraged her to read the “raw” script for Badsville, written by Benjamin Barrett and Ian McLaren.
“It was like this greaser gangster film, it really had a new, fresh vibe,” she says from an airport in Los Angeles. “It was something I’d never even come close to in terms of material.”
She knew she had to do it. The tricky part was convincing producers a Canadian girl from Niagara Falls was the right choice. “I definitely came out of nowhere,” she says. “They said the same thing. They were like, ‘Where did this person come from?’ “Immediately, you either resonate with their original intention, or you don’t. It happens within the first five minutes.”
After some U.S. screenings, the film debuts in Canada Saturday at the Canadian Film Fest in Toronto. It screens at 2:30 p.m. at the Scotiabank Theatre (259 Richmond Street West).
It’s the same festival Mullen screen her debut movie nine years ago, Rock, Paper, Scissors: The Way of the Tosser. “It’s really come full circle,” she says. “I haven’t had a film there since then.”Though it’s just opening now, Badsville was actually filmed before Mullen’s previous film, Below Her Mouth. “Sometimes that happens,” she says. “(This) was much more independent, so it just takes a lot longer to do the editing process and color and sound and everything that you’re working on with a really tight budget.”
In between feature films, Mullen has been busy filming episodes for TV shows like Bellevue, Wynonna Earp and Aftermath.
Her next film, a co-production with her own company Wango Films (which she operates with longtime filmmaking partner Tim Doiron), may start filming this summer. “We’re getting the team back together,” she says.
While her recent films have been dark and serious, Mullen hints there may be a return to her comedy roots soon. “Let’s face it, I’m bananas. So the banana part of me will never go away. I love comedy…I’m currently reading a script that is very tantalizing. I would love to go back to comedy one day.”
Source : Niagara Falls Review (24/03/2017)
Pegged as the sexiest lesbian film of Queer Screen’s Mardi Gras Film Festival, and of the year, Below Her Mouth celebrates female and lesbian sexuality like few films before it. Dallas (Erika Linder) isn’t built for relationships, but her chance encounter with Jasmine (Natalie Krill) causes an electric reaction that neither expect. The film was created with an entirely female crew, and director April Mullen talks to LOTL about the challenges, breakthroughs and inspirations for such an exciting project.
Where did the idea to use an all-female crew come from?
Women in film are rare gems and rather than talk about misrepresentation we decided to do something about it while shooting Below Her Mouth. The original intention was to bring to life something audiences had never seen before on screen: an honest depiction of a female’s perspective of what it’s like to experience desire, love, intimacy, sex and heartbreak. The goal was to capture an electrifying moment of intense chemistry between two people when they least expect it through the female gaze.
It was a challenge finding women in all departments, but word spread quickly and we were able to fill all the positions.This full female crew bought to life a feeling of being apart of something bigger than the film, this gave the female voice a stamp on the screen.
I believe the results of having an all female crew can be seen on the screen. We were able to bring our raw sensibilities to our craft, which included an enormous amount of heart and courage. Each key creative brought their personal female touch to their department. We were able to create a comfortable environment for our lead actresses Natalie Krill and Erika Linder to feel utterly supported. On set the women were able to stay true to themselves — the voice of the film is so strong and honest because of that.
How can more women be encouraged to work in the entertainment industry?
By setting examples likes this so they know the possibilities are out there. You have to take your passion and talents into your own hands, if you love the entertainment industry and want to create, do it! Create your own work, don’t wait, create everyday, build a team and start making content.
Do you think your film is a landmark for female sexuality on screen?
Yes, it is a landmark; it is uninhibited and celebrates the female gaze in a refreshing way. It allows the audience in, rather then jump out at it to be heard. The film is simply honest, raw and bold. It gives a voice to the female orgasm…there is no hiding the orgasm, or strap on, they simply are. The film is intense and simple all at once.
Do you think female sexuality is underrepresented in the media, and what can be done to counter this?
The female voice, desire, and even orgasm is seldom represented in film, television or advertisements. 99% of my exposure to sex in the media is written by a man, directed by a man, and made predominately for male audiences. I struggled heavily to stay true to my inner sense of sexuality. I had to constantly remind myself to forget all of the “movie sex” I had seen up until now and its impact on me. I had to reflect inwardly on this, and what really made me want to be physical with another person.
I feel the more we offer an alternative to audiences the more we will see a change in perception. It will not happen overnight but having female writers, roles and creators helps build a new perception and option.
“Below Her Mouth is a daring and emotional film that finally gets right what so many queer films get wrong.” – Dork Shelf
“Director April Mullen has added something beautiful to the landscape of film. Her love story – captured by a crew comprised entirely of women – feels truer, messier, and more vulnerable than most of what passes for romantic cinema these days.” – The Matinee
April will be at Saturday’s screening of the film to talk more about Below Her Mouth.
When: 25 February 2017, 9:30pm
Where: Event Cinemas George St / Australia
Source : Living True (21/02/2017)
The festival tour is not over…
Premiering at TIFF, “Below her mouth” is helmed by Canadian filmmaker April Mullen (88, Dead before dawn), and boasts itself as one of the first Canadian film productions to have an all-female production crew.
Director April Mullen in attendance at the screening on October 1 !