I grew up watching Hollywood blockbuster movies on TV, relating to strong male characters and being deeply touched by their struggles and victories. When I reached my teens, I got seriously obsessed with Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain by Jean-Pierre Jeunet. I saw a lot of myself in Amélie's character and admired a brilliantly crafted narrative. It was the film which made me consider film-making as my path. The thought that my favorite film is written and directed by men and that me being a woman would change something had never crossed my mind until I was already in film school.
4 out of 5 of my first shorts had male protagonists. And I now see how distressing is the fact I felt men would better convey my emotions and stories on screen. When in early stages of writing my so far most successful film, my male lecturer suggested I should change my story, since a vulnerable connection between men I was describing was not realistic and my male characters did not talk 'like men'. 'Why are then men allowed to portray women in this unrealistic, idealized and sexualized way and I can't write a story about vulnerable men?' I thought to myself. It made me feel like I am not enough, I wished I could 'think as a man' and 'write as a man'.
However, I do believe that the most personal is, indeed, the most creative (as stated Martin Scorsese). And precisely that is why I started writing shorts with female protagonists and created White Sheet Stories project, which is focused primarily on female narratives. I am not against male storytellers. Actually, it is quite the opposite. I truly salute male filmmakers for exploring new themes and for having courage to talk about toxic masculinity. But some stories simply does not have anything to do with men as hard as it is to imagine after centuries of androcentric narratives.
BTS shot from my upcoming film 'Migration', by Jacob Gandy
There is a lot of discussion about the aesthetics in film schools. When studying film in university I am strongly encouraged to experiment with the form of narrative and cinematography. But politics and the aesthetics are two sides of the same coin. Men filmmakers have a privilege to experiment with their stories (because the validity of their stories has already been established) while women are responsible (and sometimes devalued) for telling theirs. Nonetheless, it makes me hopeful and excited to think about how many white sheets women are yet to fill.
The creator of White Sheet Stories