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Delpy, Dawson and Co. Bring it Home

By Elena Marinaccio

Even in a room with the festival’s most successful actresses-turned-director/ writer/producers like Julie Delpy and Rosario Dawson, the real star of last night’s Tribeca Talks Bringing Home The Bacon panel seemed to be none other than Lady Luck. Joined by Slate editor and panel moderator Jacob Weisberg, Julie Delpy, Eva Mendes, Julia Stiles, Mary Stuart Masterson and Rosario Dawson described their separate struggles as aspiring women filmmakers, owning much of their inspiration to fated meetings with strangers on the street and being open to all different prospects, in addition to, of course, lots and lots of elbow grease.


(L-R) Eva Mendes, Julie Delpy, Julia Stiles, Rosario Dawson and Mary Stuart Masterson at Friday's Bringing Home the Bacon panel in Tribeca (Photo: S.T. VanAirsdale)

“It was so hard for me for twenty years to get my movies made, and then suddenly this one kind of lifted,”said Julie Delpy, who is credited with nearly every behind-the-scenes role except key grip in her directorial debut, 2 Days in Paris, in which she also stars. “I think you have to follow what suddenly happens, it’s like suddenly this one was lifted kind of by itself. ... Sometimes you have to be open, and not just focus on the one project, but start doing tons of different things and then one thing’s going to stick.”

Star and executive producer of Live!, Eva Mendes’ advice to writers looking to get their scripts read struck the same chord. “I do believe in the law of attraction and the more you ask for it and the more you put yourself out there, things will just end up showing up," she said. "And I’m not saying it’s just going to happen for you. It’s not just going to be like, poof there it is… well, maybe. Maybe if you put the work out there, it does come back to you. And if you put your feelers out there things do just show up on your doorstep.”

The filmmakers criticized the still-prevalent double standards for women, Delpy eventually dropped the f-bomb (“feminist”) and Mendes even snuck in a casting couch joke describing her fervor in trying to get Live! made after her agent told her the movie was slated for shelving: “I was like, ‘What? This has to made, like, right now. What do I have to do to get this made? Who do I have to sleep with?' ”

Describing her effort in trying to get films financed and made with little luck over the past two decades, Mary Stuart Masterson (at Tribeca this year with her directorial debut feature, The Cake Eaters) fought the theory that women have been stereotyped out of the director’s chair. “I think people think that the director’s or even the producer’s job is one of being authoritative or masculine," she said. "But I think really, if you wanted to stereotype women as nurturing and creative and all that kind of stuff, we’re uniquely qualified to organize things, make sure everybody’s OK and gets along, and they feel safe to bring you good work and feel included. Those are totally feminine qualities.”

All of the panelists agreed that full-time multitasking and perhaps even a hint of obsessive-compulsive disorder were the greatest components to their “super-hyphenated” new roles. “I learned that you have to monitor everything," said Julia Stiles, who makes her writing/directing debut at Tribeca with the short film Raving. "Which, as an actor, you can leave it up to other people to make sure that it really turns out well. But as a director it’s so important to you that you have to control everything.”

Although luck may play the largest role in any film, Rosario Dawson (star and producer of Descent) boldly warned: “I think people assume that, with women, we always just want to be liked all the time, so we’re always just going to do things very safely. … We’re going to figure out a way to tell the story that we want to tell. That’s the whole point of doing it.”

Posted at April 28, 2007 3:21 PM

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