‘Below her mouth‘ is part of the Focus Québec / Canada category and spotlight of homegrown cinema. April Mullen will be one of the guests for this 45th edition.
Friday October 7, 2016
Program #25 – 21:15 – Cinéma du Parc 1
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 !
CBC Canada asked 7 Canadian women being celebrated at TIFF this year.
At the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this week, Telefilm Canada and Birks partnered for the 4th annual Birks Diamond Tribute, which honoured 12 women working in the Canadian film industry : directors Tracey Deer, Ann-Marie Fleming, April Mullen, Léa Pool and Ann Shin ; actors Amanda Crew, Caroline Dhavernas, Christine Horne, Sandra Oh and Jennifer Podemski; and scriptwriters Emma Donoghue and Marie Vien.
The women were selected by a pan-Canadian jury of 20 journalists and bloggers covering the world of arts, culture and entertainment, and collectively they certainly have much to celebrate. But looking at the 91 features to come out of Canada in 2013-’14, a study by ‘Women in View’ found that 22 per cent of those movies were written by women, and just 17 per cent were made by female directors. It’s clear that discussion surrounding the issues facing women in the industry needs to continue – which is why CBC Arts asked seven of the women being honoured at TIFF to chime in on what the Canadian industry can do to set a higher bar for women in film.
What do you think differentiates being a Canadian woman in film from being an American woman in film? What are the pros and cons ?
April Mullen: Being a Canadian woman in the entertainment industry has all the challenges you’d find crossing any border. The percentages are low across the board when it come to women in film and that’s a fact; however, I tend to focus on supporting and celebrating women that are succeeding and breaking through. I feel it is important to strive for more of a balance in terms of a female perspectives which includes all aspects : unique scripts and stronger female characters and directorial voices.
I believe if the younger generation starts to see celebrated women in film and awareness is amplified, then we are on track to give them the courage it takes to know it’s possible. If you see it, you believe. At a younger age this makes a huge impact for young creators. It is a long term goal where we now are the trailblazers to a more balanced industry.
What do you think we need to do as a collective industry — and society — to make Canada set the bar even higher for women in film ?
The bar is set high and we are here – now it’s time to allow creative freedom and be sure that Canadians see Canadian cinema and talent. Strive to foster a new generation of women and celebrate the ones that have been the trailblazers.
Who is another woman in film — Canadian or otherwise — that you really admire and why ?
Andrea Arnold. I just saw American Honey in Cannes and it shook my soul — I have not stopped thinking about the standout raw moments in that film.
Source : CBC Canada (19.09.2016)
Don’t miss another screening of ‘Below her mouth‘ in Ontario at the Cinefest Sudbury ! Melissa Coghlan and Stephanie Fabrizi will be attending.
Sept. 21 8.00 pm @ Silvercity , 355 Barrydowne Road, Sudbury.
Once in a blue moon, a person can look at you across a crowded space and strike a chord very deep inside of you. The sound that reverberates through your body when they do seems to ask you over and over “what if.. ?.”
What happens if you find out the answer to that question… even just once ?
‘Below her mouth’ introduces us to Jasmine (Natalie Krill). A well-heeled fashion editor with a great car, posh house, and handsome fiancee… the sort of woman who seemingly “has it all”. When her man goes out-of-town, Jasmine and a girlfriend hit up a lesbian bar on a Friday night. It’s there that she meets Dallas (Erika Linder), a roofer who she caught a glimpse of working on the house next door that morning.
The two are drawn together; Dallas feeling an undeniable attraction, and Jasmine fighting a “I’ve never done this before” hesitancy. One kiss becomes two, two becomes three. Soon Jasmine can’t concentrate on anything else and an actual date is set.
Over the course of one weekend, the women become deeply intertwined; sexually and emotionally.
Director April Mullen has added something beautiful to the landscape of film. Her love story – capture by a crew comprised entirely of women – feels truer, messier, and more vulnerable than most of what passes for romantic cinema these days. She knows that sometimes we grab hold of something awkwardly in a fit of passion, and that sometimes we say something silly the next morning.
She wants to use it all; give it all the full treatment and paint a new picture of what love-at-first sight means in the city I call home.
If I’m left with a question for Dallas and Jasmine, it’s this: ‘Below her mouth’ leaves no question about their sexual chemistry. In the heat of their moments, these two women are as-one; they slip into a give-and-take that most lovers can only dream of. Their sensual prayers are answered thanks to a whole lot of delicious sin. There is no question there. Instead, my question is this : what comes next ?
I have a pretty good clue what happens on Saturday night – what’s the feeling on Sunday morning ?
The filmmakers of ‘Below her mouth’ paint this as a love story – a declaration of bravery when we are strong enough to recognize love in all its forms. What is portrayed on-screen though is more like infatuation. Deep infatuation, and emotional infatuation to be sure…but more like craving, and less like completion.
Seeing Dallas and Jasmine try to cope with the absence of the other is intense, raw, and wonderfully understated. However, we are denied a glimpse at just what is truly missing. I believe those conversations took place – that there were more scenes at cafe tables, kitchen tables, boardwalks, and sidewalks – but we never see them, and so we’re left to take an emotional leap.
All in all, ‘Below her mouth’ is a good movie. It’s handsome, charged, splendid and sexy… but it could have been a great movie. There is no question what draws Dallas and Jasmine together; but there is much to be explored over what keeps them there.
Source : The Matinee (17.09.2016)
Congrats to Cast & Crew of ‘Badsville’ : the movie has just been nominated for 12 Maverick Movie Awards !
1. Best Picture
2. Best Acting Ensemble
3. Best Director – April Mullen
4. Best Screenplay – Ian McLaren & Ben Barrett
5. Best Actor – Ian McLaren
6. Best Actress – Tamara Duarte
7. Best Supporting Actor – Greg Kasyan
8. Best Supporting Actress – Kate Campbell
9. Best Cinematography – Russ De Jong
10. Best Editing – Gordon Antell
11. Best Music – Simone Cilio & AJ Gallardo
12. Best Make-up/Practical VFX – Marina Coria
Awards will be announced on the MMA website and on social media outlets on Saturday, October 1st, Noon GMT.
The benefits of an all-female crew : how the women behind ‘Below her mouth’ made intimacy tangible by April Mullen
” ‘Below Her Mouth‘, the TIFF-premiering feature that I directed, was shot with an all-female crew. This allowed each department to bring unique female perspectives and raw sensibilities to the screen, giving the film a vulnerability and boldness that I’d never seen before.
I believe the results of having an all-female crew can be seen on the screen. On set were able to create a supportive environment that allowed every woman to stay true to themselves, and the voice of the film is so strong and honest because of that.
With Below Her Mouth, I wanted to bring to life something audiences had never seen before on screen: an honest depiction of a female’s perspective on 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. We get to follow our leads on this escape, a journey of heightened pleasure and deep emotion. The film itself is a whirlwind, all happening over the span of three days. We see the physical relationship and connection between our leads, Dallas (Erika Linder) and Jasmine (Natalie Krill), borne of the need to be close to another human being. Their coming together changes their lives completely. I always found fascinating the fact that we have the ability to fall in love with someone that quickly and have no control over it. I’ve recently experienced this kind of love and could relate to the characters and script in a strong way.
The decision to bring on an all female crew was an easy one: We wanted to depict the film via a “female gaze”—everything from the tone, to the feel, to the intimacy of the sex scenes. It gave the film as a whole an authentic female perspective. It also brought to life a feeling of being a part of something bigger than the film, giving the female voice a stamp on the screen. It was important for all of us on the film to expose ourselves (our fears, our comforts, our strengths, etc.) in order to creatively be transparent with the material.
The female voice, desires, all things sexual (all the way down to the female orgasm) are seldom represented in film, television and advertisements. Ninety-nine percent of my exposure to sex in film, TV and media is written by a man, directed by a man, and made to turn men on. This fact was something that was always on my mind while filming Below Her Mouth. I struggled to stay true to my inner sense of sexuality as a woman, and create a filmic narrative that was free from the usual tropes you would normally see in a male-driven film. I had to constantly remind myself to forget all of the “movie sex” I had seen before. Instead, I reflected inwardly on what turned me on as a woman—what my inner desires were, what made me want to be physical with another person. These are the moments I wanted to bring to the screen.
Once I had my vision intact, I relied heavily on the voices and creativity of my female crew. In prep, DP Maya Bankovic and I worked on our lighting palettes after our locations were chosen. We wanted each sex scene to have a very different and distinguishable look that matched the emotional journey between Jasmine and Dallas at each stage of their relationship. Our sex scenes needed to feel organic, like you were watching them unfold in real time. The lighting needed to embrace a woman’s perspective. It had to feel cinematic, yet not overstated, to amplify the intensity of the performance without ever taking away from our leads. I never wanted it to be about frontal lighting, with which we would see every inch of our performer’s bodies. Rather, I wanted to focus on the connection between the actresses.
We decided Dallas’ world would use a bold palette of reds and blues in her apartment while alone. While Jasmine was at Dallas’, we would use warmer light so she would feel more comfortable and safe. To achieve this, we had one warm source backlight on the bed during the first night sex scene. In contrast, the day sex scene was more exposed, using natural sunlight, as Dallas and Jasmine got closer and trusted one another more. For our final sex scene we used a chandelier to create intense, messy, animalistic lighting that matched the deep yearning and loss our characters were experiencing at that point in the film. I worked with as much natural and practical light as possible, allowing reflections, wall color and shading to help shape the visual tone.
Atmospherically, I wanted to create a sexy, safe place that gave us stunning visual images without ever distracting from the actors and the delicate moments on screen. I didn’t the film to feel polished and perfect. If there was an out-of-focus moment or a camera bump while we were with our actresses in the heat of the moment, it didn’t matter to me; as long as the performances were genuine and magic was happening, I let the camera roll. As a director, I would rather do one or two takes with moments of imperfection and keep everything fresh and unpolished, then do 10 takes and lose the rawness of the moment. Nothing in the film was over-covered, quite the opposite: I let the scenes and shots breathe on set. I wanted everything to feel unobtrusive.
Setting the stage was also a crucial piece of the puzzle to amplify the female touch. For example, production designer Faye Mullen created and installed a metallic wall that reflected light toward our actresses’ bodies and city movements outside the large window. Faye then matted and sprayed down a mirror that she positioned as the headboard for Dallas’ bed, to create depth and allow for some unique shots that wouldn’t seem overly composed.
Another reason why an all female crew was essential to Below Her Mouth? I truly believe that because of our crew, Erika and Natalie were able to let go even further when it came to their performances. They felt safe, trusting and open at all times on set, and were willing to let go physically and emotionally. They needed to connect on a level that transcended normal expectations between co-stars on a film. They needed to indulge in each other and allow their raw feelings to surface. Having an all-female crew made all the difference in the world. There was never any judgment; only encouragement and respect for what Erika and Natalie were bringing to the screen. We were all in awe of their performances.
Natalie, Erika and I spent so much time together, discussing every detail of the film in advance: all questions, motivations and blocking. This bonding time made for a seamless workflow and comfort on set. We were also strongly supported by writer Stephanie Fabrizi and producer Melissa Coghlan at all times, which helped us stay true to our original vision of the film. The five of us hold on to our connection dearly.
True love and its effects are such a difficult phenomenon to depict on screen, and it was a blessing that we were able to give this particular story a female voice. I am so proud of what we achieved with Below Her Mouth. The thin lens, zero filter and female touch can be felt in every frame. I can’t wait to bring every moment of it to audiences around the world.”
Below Her Mouth premiered at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival.
Source : Movimaker Magazine (16.09.2016)