In an exclusive interview with writer Cari Beauchamp, she discusses her final appearance on TCM’s “Trailblazing Women in Film” series Tuesday evening, October 27, with host Illeana Douglas.
The monthlong series has been featuring films directed by women while host Illeana Douglas has conducted extensive interviews with directors Allison Anders, Julie Dash, Connie Field, and Amy Heckerling,
Beauchamp is the award-winning author of “Without Lying Down: Frances Marion and The Powerful Women of Early Hollywood,” “Adventures of a Hollywood Secretary: Her Private Letters from Inside the Studios” and “Joseph P. Kennedy Presents: His Hollywood Years,” which reveals the experiences of a presidential father in Tinseltown. Beauchamp’s books have been selected for “Best of the Year” lists by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and Amazon.
Her latest book, “My First Time in Hollywood,” chronicles the initial experiences of Hollywood’s first group of the moviemaking vanguard with stories, letters, and highlights of the careers of Mary Pickford, Hedda Hopper, Lillian Gish, Frances Marion, Gloria Swanson, Lionel Barrymore, Myrna Loy, and many more.
In Beauchamp’s October 22 article on Indiewire, she pointed out that “For at least the last fifteen years, fewer than ten percent of studio films have been directed by women (according to the annual Celluloid Ceiling reports), and it was just announced that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, at the urging of the ACLU and others, will investigate whether studios are violating Title VII. The legal challenges are important, but one of the realizations that comes from discussions with women directors is just how systemic and nuanced the discrimination is.”
Such discrimination doesn’t just exist in America as “some countries, such as France and Australia, support the arts,” states Beauchamp in her Indiewire article, and often demand ” a certain number of women participating in state-run programs, but women are still in the minority. I just wrote the foreword to a forthcoming book, ‘Women Screenwriters: An International Guide,’ which features 300 writers from 60 different countries, and their struggles to follow their passions and tell their stories are both revelatory and all-too-familiar.”
The series featuring women directors encompassed over 100 years of films on the popular classic film network, and Beauchamp was obviously enthusiastic about her asssociation with the programs airing on Tuesdays and Thursdays in October.
Christy Putnam: What kind of response have you experienced from your appearances on TCM’s “Trailblazing Women in Film” series?
Cari Beauchamp: I have received such fabulous feedback about the series, people discovering new favorites, looking at films in new ways, and promising to keep an eye out for more films by women.
CP: Illeana Douglas has inspired some interesting dialogue with women in the film industry. Wouldn’t you agree?
CB: Yes. Illeana has been a wonderful catalyst for TCM’s “Trailblazing Women in Film” series this year. Her experience as an actress, writer, and director has helped her elicit the kinds of comments from the co-hosts that highlight the difficulties and the joys of the female experience as women directors.
CP: Whom do you feel is most responsible for championing such a diverse selection of films?
CB: TCM Vice President of Scheduling Charlie Tabesh deserves a huge thank you for conceiving this spotlight on women directors, as well as programming with breadth and depth while seeking out films for TCM premieres. I am particularly pleased about ‘International Women Directors’ night because it will shine a light on directors who are so important to our history, but are often overlooked. I think all of the films are ‘must sees.’ And if film fans have not seen them before, they will be introduced to directors who have made many other films ready to be discovered.
Writer Cari Beauchamp’s last appearance will be this Tuesday evening, which focuses on international films directed by women, and include “Gigi” (1948) directed by Jacqueline Audry, “Cleo from 5 to 7” (1962) directed by Agnes Varda, “Salaam Bombay” (1988) directed by Mira Nair, “Love and Anarchy” (1973) directed by Lina Wertmuller, “Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles” (1975) directed by Chantal Akerman, and “Angel at My Table” (1998) directed by Jane Campion.
The three-year long initiative highlighting “Trailblazing Women in Film” will again be featured next October on Turner Classic Movies. The final night of the series is Thursday, October 29, and will have producer Cathy Schulman, president of Women In Film LA, co-hosting with Illeana Douglas.