Born in 1990 and an alum of the Shota Rustaveli Theatre and Georgia State Film University (TAFU), Ana Urushadze is the daughter of acclaimed Georgian helmer Zaza Urushadze whose 2013 feature “Tangerines” was shortlisted for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. She has directed several short films such as “Ideas” (2010) and “One Man Loved Me” (2012). Her award-winning feature film debut “Sashishi Deda” (“Scary Mother”) took home honors at the 2017 Locarno Film Festival and Sarajevo Film Festival and was chosen to represent Georgia in the best foreign language film category at the 2018 Oscars.
Ahead of the European Film Promotion and Sydney Film Festival’s initiative “Europe! Voices of Women in Film,” Tara Karajica talks to Ana Urushadze about women in Film and “Scary Mother,” a female-led dark, funny and uncompromising psychological thriller in which a housewife chooses her passion for writing over her family that is screening at the festival.
How did Scary Mother come about?
Ana Urushadze: What I remember is that I wanted to write a story about a person being somehow outside the daily life of a group; the person happened to be a housewife and the group, a family. Then came questions like for instance: “What would she do?” – She would write, she requires isolation for writing, and that’s how she is outside the daily routine of family life. Then, she would encounter some problems regarding the text and again, what would she do? – She would leave… and so on. It’s the type of story where you “follow the character,” I guess.
Virginia Woolf’s quote from 1929 “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction” is almost proto-feminist and I’d say applies to your film in an allegorical way. Would you agree with that assumption?
A.U.: The protagonist is a woman and she seeks isolation for a while. “A room” with minimum distractions so that she can concentrate on her thoughts and feelings in order to keep writing her book. Plus, she borrows money from her husband, so we can say that this particular quote applies to the film in quite a direct way.
Your film challenges traditional gender roles and breaks conservative social rules with dark and playful humor. Why did you choose this particular approach to tell your story?
A.U.: I really did not choose this, it somehow seemed like the only way; I just kept writing.
Would it be fair to say Scary Mother is about liberation?
A.U.: Yes, it would be totally fair to say that it’s about liberation; it may be about liberation from her family life responsibilities and housewife status so that she can be a writer, or liberation from her book that haunts her and begs to be finished in order for her to go back to her family.
This is the period when the light is cast upon the problem and, hopefully, being a woman and a director won’t be something to highlight in the near future.
Is your film feminist, according to you?
A.U.: The initial motivation was not for the story to be feminist. I never thought about that. It just happened that when you shoot a film about a housewife trying to do her own thing and has no time for her family and leaves home, it comes to bear a feminist message. So if you want it to be feminist, it can be feminist. And I am very happy about this, naturally!
What do you think of the situation of women in today’s film industry? Georgia is conservative when it comes to women, but in film, this is what forces them into action. Is the amount of successful women working in the Georgian film industry a reaction to this?
A.U.: I really do not know the exact percentage of female directors in Georgia. But in recent years, the number has been increasing; I guess it is the part of the global wave – this is the period when the light is cast upon the problem and, hopefully, being a woman and a director won’t be something to highlight in the near future. But now, it’s absolutely natural because it’s still a new thing and you talk about the new thing and the changes. And those who want to address this issue are usually women, by being active and responsive.
How do you think the European Film Promotion and Sydney Film Festival’s initiative “Europe! Voices of Women in Film” will impact your career, your visibility and the promotion of European female film talent in Australia?
A.U.: It surely does seem an exciting opportunity for all and I hope that it will be a memorable and profitable experience for every participant. I just usually never expect anything particular in advance, so let’s see…
Who is your favorite female filmmaker? And your favorite film by a female filmmaker?
A.U.: I like films of Maya Deren, Samira Makhmalbaf, Chantal Akerman, Agnès Varda, Marguerite Duras and I think many more… I just do not know many directors of films that I liked.
What are your next projects?
A.U.: I am working on a new script at this moment, very slowly, at a sloth’s pace, but working nonetheless.
This interview was conducted in partnership with: