The talent sipping cocktails at Gloria Steinem's brownstone duplex last Tuesday was through the roof. Without emphasizing the evening's feminist thrust, the gathering, to celebrate Bright Star director Jane Campion, evoked the tradition of Gertrude Stein's early 20th century Paris salons: novelists Erica Jong, Meg Wolitzer, Caryn James, and Susannah Moore whose book In the Cut had been filmed by Campion were among the mostly female crowd, as was filmmaker Nancy Savoca, actor Sarah Jones, former news anchor and president of The Women's Media Center, Carol Jenkins, Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards. Jeanne Berney of Apparition, Bright Star's distributor, hosted. The energy was palpable.
In an interesting twist, men were in the kitchen, and serving the yummy hors d'oeuvres. Is it PC to mention that? Yes, we are still mired in this paradox: we want to be honoring excellent work, fine filmmaking without that nod to gender. Do we say, man director?
The evening's engine was Melissa Silverstein whose site Women & Hollywood provides industry news. Truth is, Campion remains the only woman director to have won the Palm D'Or at Cannes; Campion is also one of three women directors to have been nominated for Best Director, for The Piano (1993). If nominators are paying attention, Bright Star should be among the ten-along with Kathryn Bigelow's Hurt Locker and Lone Scherfig's An Education--listed for Best Picture Oscars.
And by the way, note such crowd pleasers as Nora Ephron's Julie & Julia and Aviva Kempner's documentary Yoo Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg. Soon to join this group: The upcoming Nancy Myer's romantic comedy, It's Complicated--starring Meryl Streep (you can never say enough about Meryl Streep, wonderful too as Julia Child). Jodie Markell's beautifully rendered feature of a never before made Tennessee Williams screenplay, The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond, is sure to achieve Oscar glory for Ellen Burstyn in a Best Supporting Role.
In case you were wondering, Steinem is working on a "road" book. I chatted with Ann Curry about her travels to Darfur, her Today Show coverage shining NBC's ample light on still the most egregious human rights issue. Simply put, everyone I spoke to in this high-power group is on the move.