Female Fan Mail
"i SEE music." - Beyoncé
Upon hearing these words, I cried.
I'm not the pop culture fan type. When I discovered that a billion other girls loved Michael Jackson, I was over that man. Finished. Done. Imagine my surprise when Mrs. Carter drops a visual album and tears start to fall down my face. I repeat, WTF?
I self analyze constantly. So I asked myself why. Why are you in tears, Malika?
The answer wasn't hard to uncover. I too see music. I also see the written word. I am a filmmaker. And filmmaking is visual.
There are not many like me. I am a rarity. This is not self-flattery. Film directing is one of the last bastions of white male supremacy. Was that too strong? Let me say it another way. If you are a young woman of color looking to score a white dude, go to film school. If you're into cinema types, you'll find a congregation of caucasian men. This is no joke.
So when Beyoncé, Black woman goddess from Texas, said she made a visual album, I had to see it.
I was blown away. And cried some more.
Beyoncé released seventeen brand spankin' new music videos on iTunes. However, only one was directed by a woman. This was PRETTY HURTS helmed by the superbly gifted Melina Matsoukas. I shouldn't fail to mention that Beyoncé co-directed a few herself, but she chose two fellas to share her credit.
The blonde musical icon is now publicly embracing feminism. Thank you Beyoncé! One of my honest-to-God favorites from her visual album is FLAWLESS. Right smack in the middle of this track is an excerpt from Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche on the definition of feminism. This time instead of crying, I cheered!
Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter is about female empowerment. An all female band. Taking charge of her own brand. Co-founding an organization that promotes "education, health, and justice for every girl, every woman, everywhere" - Chime for Change. She's using her voice to make moves for the ladies. Go Girl!
However, if I were to write my first pop fan letter, it would read something like this:
Dear Mrs. Carter,
Please hire more female directors. Thank you.
I would sign my name, stamp it, and send it off. If she wanted leads, I would offer a short list of peers. Of course, I would slip my name in that hat too - not that selfless.
Here is my personal short list of women directors. This list is not at all comprehensive. I am totally guilty of nepotism here. I like to find work for the family.
My Short List:
Tina Mabry is the award winning director of MISSISSIPPI DAMNED. A USC alumnae who originally hails from the dirty, dirty south. I would recommend Ms. Mabry for Beyoncé's NO ANGEL video - a visual poem dedicated to Houston's hoods. Tina is the versatile, down to earth type. She can converse with presidents and kick it with every day people too. Her chopped and screwed music video interpretation would look nothing less than candy coated stunning.
J.J. Stone wrote and directed a gorgeous short film titled IF I LEAP. Leap is the story of a nun tempted by sexual desire. How hot is that! Stone is the perfect directorial fit for MINE. Beyoncé's concept for this video was a Virgin Mary-esque portrait of love, pain, and want - topics J.J. Stone has in the bag.
Numa Perrier is a mixed media maven and the type of director I love. She has her hands in a little bit of everything. Perrier explains her process best in CROCODILE OF VARUNA. With all the Victoria Secret models, fish net, and lace, Perrier, also a fashion glove designer, would work wonders with YONCE.
Director Tchaiko Omawale's favorite subjects are disorder and dysfunction. She's into some really eerie shit. I love her short film PRETTY DOLL - crafted from a three-day film challenge. It's experimental in all the right ways. Tchaiko would have fun with HAUNTED. This music video is reminiscent of Stanley Kubrick's THE SHINING. The actual director, Jonas Akerlund, delivered a magnificent piece of video history, but how might it have differed under the helm of a woman?
I'm inviting lady filmmakers from around the world to participate in an exhibit for International Women's Day 2014. Make a music video and share it with my audience. You can use a song from your favorite pop artist. Or offer your talents to an underground female band. Here's the only caveat, your video has to highlight or encourage women's rights and/or gender equality in some way. Don't get all stale and lecture-y. You can deliver a message and still keep it sexy - just look at Beyoncé. However, DO NOT spend Beyoncé bank making your video. Be the Queen of tapping into your available resources - an iPhone, iPad, an old ass analogue - whatever.
Submit links to your videos here. Include "Women's Day Music Video" in the subject line. A curated selection will exhibit in my Ground Floor Gallery space and also here on the Joie de Vivre blog during Women's History Month. The deadline for submissions is February 15, 2014.
Looking forward. Ase!