Women Make Film Episode 3: Conversations, Framing and Tracking
How do you make a basic human interaction cinematic? Angela Schanelec directs us to focus on body language in Places in Cities (1998), Tang Shu Shuen (Cecile Tang) uses the zoom as a guide through the emotional shifts in The Arch (1968), and in The Virgin Suicides (1999), Sofia Coppola shows us an unspoken conversation, with songs and split screens telling a story of impossible longing.
Frames describe and paint the scenes. They can make sport look balletic, like in controversial Nazi iconographer Leni Riefenstahl’s Olympia (1938). They shape the cinematic world – through impressionist glances in Kathryn Bigelow’s Blue Steel (1989), suffocating close-ups in Lucrecia Martel’s The Holy Girl (2004), and camera angles as extreme as the titular character’s emotions in Mahalia Belo’s Ellen (2016).
Tracking shots are, to many, the essence of filmmaking magic. They can pose questions and suggest responses when hardly anyone else in the film is talking – like in Chantal Akerman’s From the East (1993) or Marion Hänsel’s Le Lit (1982). In Antonia Bird’s Face (1997), a seamless tracking shot makes the camera almost seem an extension of our eyes. Kinetic in nature, tracking can also help dynamically show a desperate escape, like in Ursula Meier’s Home (2008).
See more episodes in our Women Make Film series.
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