Of all the movies that screened at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, zero were directed by women. However, a third were apparently edited by women. The New York Times ran an interesting article over the weekend about why film editing has always welcomed women with open arms. One of the leading theories: that back in the day it was considered akin to sewing and therefore was seen as potential women’s work. But some of the theories in the article are more flattering, too.
Mary Lampson, who edited “Harlan County U.S.A” explains, “Many good editors are sort of introverted, shy people, observers of life. They’re very funny. They’re ironic. And all those traits are what you need to be a good editor. I don’t think women have a monopoly on those traits, of course. But women tend to be more like that than men.”
Dr. Michael Mills, an associate professor of psychology at Loyola-Marymount University agreed.
“To be a good film editor,” he said, “you need to select the best takes, and women are better at reading and interpreting facial expressions of emotions than are men. My guess is that perhaps high levels of both systematizing and empathizing are characteristic of the best film editors.”
I, of course, was most interested in the part of the article though that talked about Kate Amend (that’s her on the right above), a documentary film editor who cut the Academy Award-winning film “The Long Way Home” as well 2006′s “Thin.”
Amend has edited 40 films between 1984 and the present. And she loves being in a line of work that women have been doing for the long haul. She told the Times about hearing Dorothy Arzner, one of the first female filmmakers, speak about the editing process.
“She talked about cutting the bullfight scene in ‘Blood and Sand,’ the one with Rudolph Valentino,” Amend said. “She did it with a magnifying glass, holding the film up to the light.”
Which is a pretty cool image.