Cohen Media Group releases Girls of the Sun at Quad Cinema, French Institute Alliance Franšaise (FIAF) and The Landmark at 57 West on April 12th, 2019.
NYC MOVIE GURU: When it comes to entertaining the audience and provoking them emotionally, which of the two elements was most challenging to tweak in the editing room?
Eva Husson: I don't think like that. I go by my instinct---what feels right. The one thing that was tough was the music just because it was a rough time for me at the time. My mom was sick, my dad was sick. My dad fell into a coma at the last day of shooting and was in a coma during most of the edit. He died 3 days before the competition in Cannes. So, that made my emotional level really high which is a bitch in the editing room because then you tend to vibrate much more. I had to bring that down as much as I could. The bottom line is that if I were to make the movie right now, I'd make a different movie. It's always like that and you just have to be okay with it and write the way that you're being given.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Francois Truffaut once observed that a truly great film has a perfect blend of Truth and Spectacle. I believe that there can also be plenty of Spectacle within Truth. What do you think?
EH: I see what you mean because I definitely think that it's my filmmaking, and I think it's sort of an homage to American cinema. I studied in the US and have an American accent when I speak English. I guess part of me believes that it's more interesting to reach a wider range of people because you sweep them with emotion and the scope of filmmaking. I believe in films in cinemas. I believe in spectacle. That's the right word. You have to be okay with it. I never quite understand that section of filmming where you have to be very protestant about it---the light has to look like shit and the sound has to look like shit, and that's the mark of a good movie. That's bullshit! You know what? From the second that you make a decision about lighting, you make an aesthetic decision. So if your light is shit, it's because you wanted it to be shit. It's not because light is shit in general. If you look at the light in life, most of the time it's very interesting and beautiful. I try to own that side of filmmaking where we're doing fiction, so let's go for it. Let's embrace it. Let's make the most out of it with the tools that we have because it's interesting to take people on this journey. Cinema, for me, is the only medium where you can slip into somebody else's vision of the world and become somebody else for a couple of hours. It's the least dangerous way of doing it. You don't have to take drugs or to get lost in a virtual world where it's endless. Because it's not your own decision, it's a journey that you're making through somebody else's eyes, and that's my proposition. So, it's very subjective. I want that. I like filmmakers who are subjective. I don't believe in objectivity in filmmaking. I think that it's bullshit.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Is there something unique about the friendship between two women that's different from the friendship between two men?
EH: The important thing to remember when you think about cinema representation on screen is that it's been seen through the prism of the male gaze for so long that it's a representation from the outside that's 80% tailored. Not all of it is tailored. You have amazing filmmakers who represent women marvelously---Almodovar, Bergman, Woody Allen and Cassavetes. They were real allies and were great, but I think that, as women, we don't represent that same things. We don't emphasize the same things. We are just at the beginning of a much wider and more diverse and richer representation. It doesn't mean that the other representation is wrong, it's just that if you just represent something from one point of view, it becomes sterile and self-reproducing. That's what I find interesting. I think it's going to take decades, but I think that people will find feminism as an alliance between two oppression. There's oppression against men as well, but it's not one that the masculanists promote. Both women and men are seen as pieces of meat by society---just not the same kind of meat. Women are seen as sexual gratification, objectification and subordination. Men are seen as a need for war. Men are groomed to be virile to promote honor as the supreme value and to promote self-sacrifice. But what for? It's so that it's easier for governments to say, "Sorry, you gotta get killed at 6pm. Can you move on?" and the men reply, "Yes! This is my duty and my value!" This can't be touch upon in the US because it's something that's very embedded in the defense of the land. But I do think that it's an oppression and that both men and women are oppressed together. Both oppressions feed each other because if men are given some "superiority" over women, then they're going to be more like to be okay to suffer their own oppression.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Society pressures men to avoid crying while pressuring women to avoid expressing anger. Do you agree with that observation?
EH: Completely! That's a great example because I express my anger and try to own it, but I'm being checked so many times. So many times people are telling me, "You're a little bit too rough or you speak too loudly." and I'm like, "You know what? Fuck this! This is not okay! My anger is a source of energy and I produce things because of this anger. I made a movie because of this anger and I want to be able to use it as a positive factor!" Do you know who taught me that? African-American women because they have studied to own anger much, much before we did. I started reading texts by African-American women and following their journeys and it just blew my mind. It freed so many things within me. I'm really indebted to them.
NYC MOVIE GURU: What was the process like to decide how much violence to show and how to show it?
EH: It was a big question to me from the very beginning. There are two kinds of violence: the general violence that war conveys and the violence toward women. My guidance was what the story needs to be told and not more. Violence is part of our society so we have to represent it. It's not a gimmick. We live in very violent societies whether we like it or not. That said, you don't need to revel in explosions of blood forever and ever. When Tarantino does it, I think it has a point because it shows the absurdity of it all. I think in a movie like this, it would've been really bad taste and really wrong to just heighten the violence. For the violence of women, it was very important for me to treat it is a story point. I can't make a story about Yazidi women without talking about rape. It's not possible. They were raped over and over, and I want people to understand the horror of it. I spared them so much. Each of these women were raped over 100 times. They can't even remember the number of times they were raped. However, for me, rape isn't the slight that we're given as women that it's something that destroys your life and you're just this little thing and you can't get over it. It's a part of life as a woman. You deal with it, but it's also part of what happens to your community, to your sister and brother. Why is it a weapon of war? Because it disrupts the canvas of societies. That's where it's interesting and that's where you should represent it.
NYC MOVIE GURU: What do you think would make for a great double feature with Girls of the Sun?
EH: The Piano.