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Wishing you movie blessings!
My heart raced through the pre-show of the New York Film
Critics premiere of, “Every Secret Thing.” As I watched the trailer, I was blown away by
the diversity of the cast and the number of prominent female characters. My
excitement grew as the host introduced the women who drove the project: producer
Frances McDormand, director Amy Berg, writer Nicole Holofener, and Actresses
Diane Ladd and Dakota Fanning.
Since only 5% of studio productions are directed
by women, there was a lot riding on this production. So few films, especially thrillers, are
directed by women. The rare women who succeed in getting studio distribution
have the unfair responsibility of representing all female filmmakers.
In the post-film discussion, the women spoke candidly about
what drew them to the project – the irredeemable characters. The actresses
shared how they rarely get to play complex women. They were proud to be creating genuinely flawed
characters – to challenge societal norms requiring mothers to be depicted as
kind and nurturing. And these women
succeed at being brutally honest in their depiction. The audience audibly gasped as the rejected
tween girls approach an unattended baby and take it from its stroller. Documentary
filmmaker Amy Berg brought to the project her strength for unearthing the bitter truth. She desiccates the mythology of motherhood – foraging
through parenting decisions for far reaching consequences. What she uncovers is
our hunger for nurturing, and how a lack of nurturing can have a negative impact
for a lifetime.
Director Amy Berg
Admittedly, this was an ambitious first narrative feature
for documentary director Amy Berg. There was the challenge of dealing with the shifts
in time and balancing the different characters’ perceptions of the past
traumas. I would have liked to have seen more of the abusive home life that led
to the abduction. The director shared how she formed the prerequisite thriller
plot twists in the editing room. At times they felt a bit contrived. These are
the kinds of mistakes that you learn from and improve with each movie you make.
I hope she gets the chance to grow her unique voice.