“The Keeping Room” (2015) is a fascinating look at women in the context of western films, particularly the struggle in the early American west. We spoke with writer Julia Hart and lead Brit Marling at the premier in Soho, NYC with an afterparty at Hill & Dale, with cupcakes provided by Piaget and drinks by Svedka.
We spoke woth Julia Hart, screenwriter for The Keeping Room, on the red carpet.
Q: Is there a feminist undertone to this?
A: Absolutely, I don’t think a good writer sets out to write a feminist narrative, I think that just comes, it organically comes out of that process. It works because it wasn’t the intention to make a “feminist Western”.
Q: Would it be limiting to say that your sense of feminism is based in the idea of simply telling the woman’s side of a story?
A: No! There are more movies are made about women that are offensive to women that are made under the umbrella of being feminist. It’s cheap to sell stories under feminist. The reason the film is feminist to me, is that its okay to be a woman, its okay to be messy and emotional and real. I think the “strong female characters” are most offensive and un-feminist because they are representations of some ideal, perfect, super goddess, which is not feminist at all. One of the things that important was to me in this story is this woman, she’s strong, but she breaks down, and she gets scared, and it’s physically difficult for her to load this civil war rifle and shoot someone. Feminism is being unafraid to be female.
Q: Were there films that were inspiring this?
A: In terms of writing, Toni Morrison is my biggest inspiration. Beloved is one of my most favorite pieces of art of all time. The way she mixes genres, The way she takes slavery as a ghost story, for some people horror is a reality not a genre. In terms of structure and style cinematically, Romero’s early films, like Night of the Living Dead (1968) was a big influence.
Q: Was this rooted in a true story?
A: There’s definitely some truth to it, I was saying I went to a friend’s family farm in Georgia and there was a myth that came with the film, that there were Union soldiers buried in the back, its that fine line between truth and allegory. The very deep backstory of the story is Sherman’s March.
Q: How long have you been writing?
A: This is my first script, and I’ve been working as a screenwriter in LA for four years.
Next we spoke with with Brit Marling, Augusta in The Keeping Room. As the screening was hosted by Piaget, she dazzled in a Piaget Possession pendant in 18-carat white gold set with 66 brilliant-cut diamonds and a Possession ring in 18-carat white gold set with 1 brilliant-cut diamond.
Q: What’s your involvement in the film?
A: I play Augusta, and she’s a part of this group of women who are fighting for their lives, they’ve been abandoned on this farm, they’re left alone, and while they’re there, the Union soldiers come through and they have this very harrowing evening where they defend themselves with very real mean, there’s no magic or fantasy.
Q: How do prepare for a role like this?
A: A lot of time is spent in your imagination, daydreaming the circumstances of the story, thinking about a time where your father and your brother are gone, and you can’t contact them, your future is really unclear, and this sort of desperation that would create if you’re a young woman of waiting, waiting for your family to come back together and then the realization that you have to create a family with what’s been left behind.
Q: Did you identify with the character?
A: She’s an unusual girl, and we’re very different, I didn’t know how to wield and axe like her. I think she’s a very brave person, and I admire that- I don’t know if I’m that brave. When I sat down with Julia after I sat down with the script, and we were just talking about young women and the question of what a more feminist strength looks like and I got really excited by all those ideas and we try to mine some of that in the storytelling and in Augusta, she’s very feminine, she’s wearing this dress, and she’s got long hair, and yet she’s doing all the masculine errands of the house.
The Keeping Room is in limited release on September 25th, 2015.