Lens Me Your Fears

Isabella Wing-Davey makes movies that matter

Text by Ajay RS Hothi

Tank _vol 7issue 18

Still from PICK SOMETHNG (2011)

At the tender age of 25, Isabella Wing-Davey, the London-born, New York-based director of Powder Room Films, is about to tour her latest short film. PICK SOMETHING is a serious yet skewed look at the institution of marriage and what it means to young women today. Its visual style recalls the pure, shadowed tones of the Swedish director Roy Andersson, its more surreal moments could have come straight from Michel Gondry’s bizarre imagination, and its confident, thoughtful tone would make Virginia Woolf proud. “one of the key things for Powder Room Films is to make films that address, or redress, things that we take as cultural norms and institutions, Wing-Davey explains. She first began producing films while studying history at Cambridge, where she also developed an interest in examining social and cultural history through the stories of individual characters. After making three shorts and gaining on- and off -set production experience, she was accepted into the graduate film programme at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. This year she has also produced Pen Pal, by fellow 20-something director Brooke Goldfinch, about a religious 13-year-old girl who confides in her prison-inmate pen pal about her deteriorating relationship with her best friend. “I’m OK with being called a feminist filmmaker, which is political, Wing-Davey says. “But I have a problem with being labelled a female filmmaker, which is gendered. No one talks about male filmmakers. It’s counterproductive for women to self-define in that way. It’s important for me to question commonly accepted thoughts and structures and I want to make films that make people understand the choices that they make. It’s not about pushing an agenda, it’s about raising the questions.” §