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Filming Difference

Actors, Directors, Producers, and Writers on Gender, Race, and Sexuality in Film

Edited by Daniel Bernardi

Publication Year: 2009

Addressing representation and identity in a variety of production styles and genres, including experimental film and documentary, independent and mainstream film, and television drama, Filming Difference poses fundamental questions about the ways in which the art and craft of filmmaking force creative people to confront stereotypes and examine their own identities while representing the complexities of their subjects. Selections range from C. A. Griffith’s “Del Otro Lado: Border Crossings, Disappearing Souls, and Other Transgressions” and Celine Perreñas Shimizu’s “Pain and Pleasure in the Flesh of Machiko Saito’s Experimental Movies” to Christopher Bradley’s “I Saw You Naked: ‘Hard’ Acting in ‘Gay’ Movies,” along with Kevin Sandler’s interview with Paris Barclay, Yuri Makino’s interview with Chris Eyre, and many other perspectives on the implications of film production, writing, producing, and acting. Technical aspects of the craft are considered as well, including how contributors to filmmaking plan and design films and episodic television that feature difference, and how the tools of cinema—such as cinematography and lighting—influence portrayals of gender, race, and sexuality. The struggle between economic pressures and the desire to produce thought-provoking, socially conscious stories forms another core issue raised in Filming Difference. Speaking with critical rigor and creative experience, the contributors to this collection communicate the power of their media.

Published by: University of Texas Press


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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix

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Different Visions, Revolutionary Perceptions: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in the Work of Contemporary Filmmakers

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pp. 1-13

Most of us have heard George Bernard Shaw’s famous line, “He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches.” Although Shaw’s line has to do with revolutionaries, I have heard film students use a variant to chide film and media educators.1 It goes something like this: “Those that can make films, do. Those that cannot make films, teach.” A...


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pp. 15

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Chapter 1. Disability Is Us: Remembering, Recovering, and Remaking the Image of Disability

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pp. 17-40

My brother, born two years before me, came into the world two months too soon, and very sick. He stopped breathing when he was only a few days old, and the delay of oxygen to his brain resulted in significant cerebral palsy. When I was three and my brother was five, we shared a bedroom, toys, a place at the dinner table, and almost everything else ...

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Chapter 2. “I Saw You Naked”: “Hard” Acting in “Gay” Movies

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pp. 41-53

I was starring in this independent film, Leather Jacket Love Story. It was playing at an art house on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, and I was featured prominently on the poster displayed out front. With no clothes on. You couldn’t see anything, really, but I was naked when we shot the photo. Leather Jacket Love Story was not a pornographic film, ...

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Chapter 3. Pain and Pleasure in the Flesh of Machiko Saito’s Experimental Movies

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pp. 55-72

A photograph lying on the table at a curatorial meeting at the San Francisco Cinematheque features a figure that looks like the human incarnation of a whip—long, lean, and dressed in leather. Stick-like and twisted on a white floor—with the biggest, blackest, and longest hair in the world fanning her spread-eagled body. Who is that? Is it a woman ...


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pp. 73

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Chapter 4. Framing Identities / The Evolving Self: Beyond the Academic Director

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pp. 75-94

I am currently in Buenos Aires, Argentina, working toward making my first fiction feature film, 3 Am

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Chapter 5. Indigenism, (In)Visibility: Notes on Migratory Film

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pp. 95-117

Indigenous identities can unsettle a host of unlikely bedfellows, from globalizing corporate forces and nationalistic agendas to oppositional political schemes. Since 1978, my independently produced films and videos have consistently focused on local crises in which indigenous cultures emerged as unwanted houseguests for some coexistent,...

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Chapter 6. Traversing Cinematic Borders: An Interview with Paul Espinosa

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pp. 119-136

Paul Espinosa is an acclaimed documentary and narrative filmmaker. He produces, directs, and writes much of his work, which focuses on the cultural and political lives of Latinos in, around, over, under, and through the U.S.-Mexico border. The recipient of one national and seven San Diego Emmys and five CINE Golden Eagle awards, among ...


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pp. 137

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Chapter 7. Del Otro Lado: Border Crossings, Disappearing Souls, and Other Transgressions

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pp. 139-164

Mexico is not simply the sweaty, sickly yellow-green of recent cinema, home to corrupt officials, drug traffickers, and one good cop who stands up against them all. It is much more diverse and complex than that, magnificent in the way that only a nation with cultures thousands of years old can be. Here in Mexico City, below Aztec ruins, tons of...

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Chapter 8. Faith in Sexual Difference: The Inquisition of a Creative Process

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pp. 165-186

I am a writer, a teacher, and a former Catholic priest. I have written a number of screenplays and stage plays, and have had producers secure the rights to develop two of my scripts. One of those scripts is Kali Danced, the focal point of my comments in this chapter. I have taught screenwriting for the past eleven years at Loyola Marymount University ...

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Chapter 9. Dead Conversations on Art and Politics: Jos

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pp. 187-205

The conversation from which this article arose takes place between nineteenth-century Mexican artist and illustrator José Guadalupe Posada (1851–1913) and twenty-first-century new media artist John Jota Leaños. The circumstances of this exchange are unusual at best: it occurred somewhere along the road to Mictlan1 on the southern border ...


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pp. 207

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Chapter 10. Neither Color Blind, Nor Near-Sighted: Representation, Race, and the Role of the Academic Filmmaker

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pp. 209-221

"What kind of filmmaker does not want his film viewed by a potential distributor or representative?” asked a producer’s representative in Los Angeles when I expressed some reticence about sending my film to her company for consideration. “Did you make the film with the intention that it would be distributed, or not?”...

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Chapter 11. Preparing to Perform the Other: Developing Roles Different from Oneself

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pp. 223-245

Creating performances for screen and stage where either the actor or the director is notably different from the character to be portrayed is a challenging task whose political, psychological, and cultural underpinnings have gone underexamined. Dramatic practitioners have begun to recognize that while human beings are similar enough to relate ...

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Chapter 12. Cinematic Reservations: An Interview with Chris Eyre

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pp. 247-260

It was our first year in the graduate film program, 1993, and I remember being perplexed by our first conversation. Chris’s sense of humor was so deadpan it was hard to know if he was kidding. I soon learned that he was more often kidding than not. In fact, Chris’s humor is a big part of his films. Even the most...


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pp. 261

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Chapter 13. “And Maybe There Is a Way to Give Hollywood the Kick in the Ass That It Needs”: An Interview with Filmmaker Karyn Kusama

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pp. 263-288

I first met Karyn Kusama in 1996 when we were both working as assistants to writer-director John Sayles (Lone Star, Passionfish, The Brother from Another Planet). We had recently graduated from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts—I from the Graduate Dramatic Writing Program, she from the Undergraduate Film Department, where her thesis film, Sleeping Beauties, won a Mobil Award in 1991. We...

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Chapter 14. From Selena to Walkout: An Interview with Moctesuma Esparza

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pp. 289-302

“When you struggle against something, you grow,” says preeminent Latino film and television producer Moctesuma Esparza. Growth and struggle define Esparza, a first-generation Chicano from East Los Angeles who has become an esteemed businessman, filmmaker, and Latino advocate....

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Chapter 15. Negotiating the Politics of (In)Difference in Contemporary Hollywood: An Interview with Kimberly Peirce

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pp. 303-322

Kimberly Peirce, the writer-director of Boys Don’t Cry (Killer Films/Fox Searchlight, 1999), became the toast of the town after her lead actress, Hilary Swank, won both a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for her performance as the transsexual Brandon Teena and after Chloë Sevigny was nominated in the supporting actress category for her role ...

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Chapter 16. Televising Difference: An Interview with Paris Barclay

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pp. 323-234

I met Paris Barclay in November 2005 at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Foundation Faculty Seminar, an annual five-day series of discussions, presentations, and interactions between college professors and the Hollywood production community. He immediately struck me as one of the most articulate and passionate...

Selected Bibliography (Compiled by Chiara Ferrari)

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pp. 343-356


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pp. 357-362


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pp. 363-378

E-ISBN-13: 9780292793552
E-ISBN-10: 0292793553
Print-ISBN-13: 9780292719231
Print-ISBN-10: 029271923X

Page Count: 390
Illustrations: 67 photos, 2 tables
Publication Year: 2009

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Social problems in motion pictures.
  • Screenwriters -- United States -- Interviews.
  • Motion picture producers and directors -- United States -- Interviews.
  • Motion picture actors and actresses -- United States -- Interviews.
  • Sex role in motion pictures.
  • Race relations in motion pictures.
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