#venezia73: Interview with Sophia Takal

Always Shine director Sophia Takal deals with traditional expected lady-like manners in the competitive world of Hollywood

Sophia Takal with her new feature film “Always Shine” deals with the obscure sides of Hollywood, reflecting her own experiences of competition anxiety and jealousy typically related to the ruthless film industry.

Tinseltown in fact can be seen as a metaphor of the contemporary society itself, marked by a omnipresent patriarchy and their victims, well represented through Anna (Mackenzie Davis) and Beth (Caitlin FitzGerald), significantly introduced through separated close ups during their film auditions.

The dichotomy femininity/masculinity is clearly revealed in a typical stereotyped way by the attitude of Hollywood casting agents (and not only them), who always rejects Beth because she has to improve her “lady like” manners, accepting Anna instead, who is more submissive and successful.With shades of Persona by Ingmar Bergman, Anna and Beth wears interchangeable masks representing different personality types, playing a Reversi game where the main risk is struggling for loosing the identity, becoming a Zombie in the star system.

[dropcap type=”4″]I [/dropcap]sat with Sophia after the screening at Venice Film Festival and talked with her about femininity notions in relation to her film and her private life:

“All these images and ideas about femininity were pushed on me at a young age, always confusing me: You can’t do this, you are supposed to be that way!” I got so angry at people who stated this, I even lost friends.
I wasn’t able to reconcile my own instincts with the conventions deeply rooted especially in the mainstream culture.

It was important for me to define these images and the related consequences like anger and jealousy, so that I could reject all of this, rather than just accepting them as some sort of undefined reality. By the way I didn’t kill anybody even if I wanted to.

So you ended up making this movie.
Yes, I’m exploring through my films all these contradictions and oppressive notions of femininity with the aim of sorting out all the confusion and clashing emotions I still have. I always talked with my husband (Lawrence Michael Levine) about all of this. Then he wrote the script and we worked together on it for more than one year.

I really liked the way you separated the two characters during the audition scenes.
Thank you!  I wanted to introduce the two characters as extremes of femininity, somehow in a stereotyped way. Beth in particular is really angry and jealous about Anna because she can fit successfully into the widely accepted vision of femininity. She kills her without acknowledging her disease and doing this she accepts the status quo.

Always Shine is a self referential film, like many others in the contemporary scene and here in the competition. I find the Zombie script quite meaningful.  How did it come?
Lawrence wrote that scene. I love it.  We were making fun at the way women are represented in traditional horror films, on how stupid and sexist they are.  I think we become all zombie when we accept this sort of compromise. But I would have to talk further with my husband about the meaning.

Always shine was screened first at Tribeca Film Festival and then at 73 Venice Film Festival in Venice Days section.

Article by Alexander Darkish

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