"I think women just aren't accepting these things that we thought were normal," said Sami. "When I saw ('Bridesmaids') I remember thinking, 'This is what I've been like with my friends my whole life.' I'm always around smart, funny women and I don't see that on-screen. And that's crazy."
"Galveston," French filmmaker and actress Melanie Laurent's adaptation of a novel by "True Detective" writer Nic Pizzolatto, will also premiere in narrative spotlight. Starring Elle Fanning and Ben Foster, the story combines the bleak sleaziness of Pizzolatto's worldview with a tenderness that comes from Laurent and her performers.
"Nic's idea was bigger at some point, with more bad guys and more violent scenes and I realized it's really the story about two lost souls who are trying to escape," Laurent said. "I think everything was there, it was just my vision was very precise on that and tried to transform things. We will never know, but maybe if a male director would have taken that story he would have done something very different."
Having a festival run by a woman is not entirely unusual -- both of the major festivals in Los Angeles, AFI Fest and the L.A. Film Festival, currently have women in top leadership roles -- but the distinct perspective brought by a programmer like Pierson is noted and appreciated by filmmakers.
"We're up against all these obstacles in financing films that are directed by women and that have a nontraditional cast," Newman said. "Yes, we need more women filmmakers, we need more women directors, but we also need more women programmers, more women critics, and all across the board. And not just women, but people from all backgrounds and sexual orientation.
"These stories resonate differently when you have had a different world experience. So I am so grateful that Janet saw the film and that she loved it."
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