Sian Heder didn't necessarily set out to make a list of movies she loves that are directed by women. The writer-director of CODA listed off five of the films that have most influenced her as a filmmaker, and we here at A.frame pointed out that they all hail from female filmmakers.
At which point Heder paused to consider, then laughed. "Yeah. I mean, they are all directed by women!"
Below, Heder, who is a first-time Oscar nominee (for Best Adapted Screenplay), shares those five films and discusses how each film has inspired her.
Fish Tank is one of my favorite movies ever. I fell in love with the subjective filmmaking in that movie. Andrea Arnold is amazing in that way. Her camera always has such a strong point of view and puts you right in there emotionally with her characters. For some reason, that film just really moved me. And the way that you lived with that girl -- and saw the world through her eyes -- was so specific, and something, as a filmmaker, that I took with me and try to apply to my work. That you're not shooting a scene to just tell the story of the scene. You're telling one person's story who's within the scene -- and how you use the camera to do that.
I love the mother-daughter relationship in that film. There are definitely echoes of that in my work, of how you can have comedy and emotion live together in the same place, and also, total dysfunction and love, wrapped up in the same relationship. There's so much about that film that I love.
I was so struck by what Chloé [Zhao] did with that film and how she did it. It's so clear from the filmmaking that she took her time and waited for the exact right time of day when the light was perfect and really just crafted each moment. Also, the way that she worked with non-actors. She finds people and lets them be alive on film in who they are completely. I was just so moved by it. And Nomadland as well. But The Rider was the first thing that just grabbed me and made me realize what an insane talent she is.
I love what Marielle [Heller] did with that movie. I love the way it mixes magical realism right alongside naturalism. I think it has such style. And it felt the way it felt to be that age and be exploring your sexuality and exploring all these things. And again, it had humor, but also felt like a very intense experience to watch.
I love that movie. I thought it was incredibly shot and the performances were so unexpected and beautiful. It so vividly puts you with that girl in that place in such a specific world and lets you just feel every minute of it. The way it was shot, the way the camera captured that place and that character, and the very strange story at the center, was so moving to me. Like -- truly the most wild story. And you're thrust into something you've just never seen and don't understand. It's this allegory, but it looks at womanhood within this culture. It's amazing. I think Rungano [Nyoni] is an amazing talent.