May. 14, 2021
PROXY [virtual] SPRING SERIES, VOLUME THREE
Welcome to volume three of the PROXY [virtual] SPRING SERIES. We’ve selected two films that follow characters whose childhoods are deeply affected by the shortcomings of their parents. For those growing up without the miracle of consistent support and guidance from their family, a found community can offer a sense of stability in a tumultuous childhood. Our accompanying articles this week explore the impact of increased female presence on film sets for young women looking to enter the industry, both contemporaneously and over decades past.
Directed by Miranda July, 2020
Miranda July’s KAJILLIONAIRE follows a family of low-level grifters who have raised their adult daughter to take part in their lifestyle – which dwells at the very edge of what can be called reasonable human behavior. The movie explores themes of family expectations, manipulation, and the importance of physical and emotional intimacy through the daughter, Old Dolio, played by Evan Rachel Wood. After her family brings in an outsider to assist in their schemes, Old Dolio slowly comes to realize that her lifestyle is her parents’ greatest scam. Stylized and deeply funny performances by Wood, Richard Jenkins, and Debra Winger flesh out the experience of an only daughter raised by narcissist parents.
Watch on various platforms
Directed by Sarah Gavron, 2019
ROCKS is a heartfelt and authentic film about a Black British teen and the immutable strength she is required to hold far too early in life. When her mom disappears, Olushola (“Rocks” is her friends’ affectionate nickname for her) is left to care for her young brother in an apartment that is quickly running out of groceries. Initially unbothered, Rocks’ composure is tested as the power is shut off and a neighbor involves Social Services. The film stars mostly newcomers and deftly incorporates Snapchat and Instagram lenses in its naturalistic and uplifting exploration of a dire topic – mostly due to its humanistic treatment of the teenage friend group that supports Rocks through her crises.
Watch on Netflix
PROXY founder Douglas Burnham composed the following playlist to accompany this week’s selections, offering up the accompanying note:
“Broken relationships. Love lost, denied. Still, finding ways forward. – dB”
THE MAKING OF ROCKS
Empire’s in-depth making-of story sheds some light on the production processes behind ROCKS that lend the film its true-to-life atmosphere. Director Sarah Gavron and writer Theresa Ikoko reveal the challenges of securing funding for a female coming-of-age film starring multiple first-time actors and the tension between appeasing the financiers and keeping the story and its relative fluidity alive. The lead actors, Bukky Bakray and Kosar Ali, speak to the level of encouragement and care shown them by the film’s crew, composed of 75 percent women (at Gavron’s insistence). Making any movie, good or bad, is a small miracle of logistics, preparation, and true artistry – and making a movie this good, with a cast and crew this intentionally collaborative, is a revelation.
A CONVERSATION WITH CRITERION
As part of a Criterion Collection release of Miranda July’s first feature, ME AND YOU AND EVERYONE WE KNOW, Criterion hosted a screening of her film paired with Jane Campion’s 1983 short, PASSIONLESS MOMENTS. In the interview with July that accompanied the screening, July discusses Campion’s influence on her cinematic sensibilities and her understanding of filmmaking as a viable career. The interview then turns to JOANIE4JACKIE, a film zine July started in 1995 as a way of exposing herself and others to more women filmmakers. JOANIE4JACKIE survives in an online archive that also includes contemporary interviews with various filmmakers about their involvement in the project. It is a trove of the joy that comes out of collaboration with those who understand you, and is well worth getting lost in for a few minutes (or hours).
COMMUNITY YOUTH CENTER
The Community Youth Center is a citywide nonprofit organization that supports high-need youth in achieving their potential in their academic, career, family, and community life. With over 50 years serving the youth of San Francisco, CYC has expanded to include 3 offices and 45 distinct program sites throughout every neighborhood of the city. If you are able, consider becoming a volunteer or donating funds to support their vital programming.
HELP BUILD SAFE PASSAGE PARK
Safe Passage Park is a neighborhood-led campaign to create urgently needed outdoor space accessible to children, families and the wider community living in the Tenderloin. Residents, businesses, and neighborhood organizations — with the support of the Tenderloin Community Benefit District, ENVELOPE and Studio O, the office of District 6 Supervisor Matt Haney, and multiple city agencies — have joined together to transform the 200 block of Turk Street into a safe, active community space for all. Please consider supporting the realization of Safe Passage Park by making a financial contribution today.