Film legend Jodie Foster grew up in the movies, but it was a very different place then. Accepting the Athena Film Festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award recently, Foster praised film industry pioneers like Sherry Lansing and the late Laura Ziskin. (The award Foster received is named for Ziskin.) But despite the achievements of these groundbreaking execs, Foster never saw female directors–and without seeing them she could hardly imagine becoming one. That is, until her mother took her to a festival devoted entirely to the directing career of Lina Wertmuller.
Wertmuller is an Italian film director who in 1976 became the first woman ever nominated for Best Director at the Oscars (for Seven Beauties). Wertmuller was assistant director to Fellini on his famous 8½, and she never looked back. The Italian force of nature wrote and/or directed 23 films.
Lina Wertmuller, detail (photo: Augusto De Luca)