The Athena Film Festival took place at Barnard this weekend, and when Bwog heard that Greta Gerwig, BC ’06, of Greenberg fame, was going to be there, we just had to stop by. Lily Icangelo reports from “A Hollywood Conversation With Greta Gerwig.”
Greta Gerwig is a lovely human being and I want her to be my best friend. Having only graduated from Barnard a mere five years ago, she’s already acting in big budget movies alongside Ben Stiller, Natalie Portman, and Helen Miren. She first became known for her involvement in “Mumblecore,” the independent film movement that didn’t really become known as a movement until after it was over.
This “Hollywood conversation” was held between Gerwig and Vanity Fair Contributing Editor, Leslie Bennetts. They discussed everything from how Gerwig became interested in acting, to her time at Barnard, and her opinion of how women are treated and represented in Hollywood. Gerwig talked about wanting to make movies about female friendship – and not the kind of female friendship movie that revolves around finding the perfect man. She likes movies that represent life as it really is. The mumblecore genre represented the reality of being twenty-something, fresh out of college, and jobless. Luckily for Gerwig, she has managed to become a successful twenty-something with a job. When asked how she handles herself financially, she answered “I treat myself like a non-profit organization; I just have to have enough money to keep the organization alive.”
It was striking to hear Gerwig speak about some of the negative reactions she has received for various nude scenes she has done. It wasn’t that the critics thought the nudity was inappropriate, but it was that they didn’t think “ugly girls” like Gerwig (and Gerwig’s friend, another fantastic actress/writer/director named Lena Dunham) should be featured in such scenes. These comments are a little out of touch because both of these women are beautiful; moreover, they also set women back fifty years, shining a light on the unfortunate fact that women are still fighting to be represented as real people – not just cookie-cutter Barbie figures – in film. But Gerwig is truly a breath of fresh air for the long-stale image of the standard Hollywood actress. When asked about how she feels about her own appearance she answered, “I feel great…because of Barnard!”
This reporter hopes that the Athena Film Festival (and Greta!) become an annual event at Barnard. It is vital to continue to challenge the accepted representation of women in film, and for the call to change come from those within the industry itself.