In 1979, at the age of twenty-eight, Gillian Armstrong shot to international prominence with her first feature, My Brilliant Career, a beautifully realized tale, set in the turn-of-the-century Australian bush, about a young woman with ambitions of becoming a writer. An adaptation of a beloved autobiographical novel by Miles Franklin, the film departs considerably from the usual period-romance template, as its free-spirited heroine (played by a marvelous Judy Davis, in her first lead role) finds herself on the fence about settling down with a wealthy suitor (Sam Neill). In the clip above, taken from a supplement on our new edition of My Brilliant Career, Armstrong says that it wasn’t just generic conventions she sought to upend with her debut. She explains her desire to move beyond the portrayals of women typically advanced by the male-dominated movie industry, whose most sensitively drawn films often still betray a circumscribed view of female experience (as a case in point she cites the Katharine Hepburn–starring adaptation of Little Women, streaming on the Criterion Channel starting this weekend in our George Cukor’s Women series). Watch to the end to hear how Armstrong felt compelled, while doing press for her movie—with which she attained a level of success rare for a female director at the time—to put herself forward as a role model for young girls.
A Daytrippers Trio Looks Back on Their Indie Miracle
Director Greg Mottola reunites with two cast members of his debut feature—Liev Schreiber and Parker Posey—to reminisce about the joys and trials they experienced on the set of this shoestring marvel.
The Trove of Muhammad Ali Footage That Almost Went Unseen
Producer David Sonenberg charts the long road When We Were Kings, which ultimately won an Oscar for best documentary, had to travel to make it to the big screen.