Melina Matsoukas

What made you want to be a filmmaker?

I come from a very progressive family who were all very politically active in the 70s in the fight against social and racial inequality and oppression.  I was brought up to believe we all had a responsibility to do our part in the struggle and that we could achieve anything we set our minds to.  Being a naive, young, radical woman in college, I wanted to change the world and give voice to the unheard.  I chose to do this with film.

 

What kind of projects do you want to be working on?

I would love to work on pieces that speak from a perspective we have yet to see in film, television, commercials, and videos.  I have an undying need to diversify the stories and imagery we’ve seen on screen historically. This has value to me.  Also, I would love to work on projects that have something profound or provocative to say or show and that challenge what we are comfortable calling “normal” in film & television.

 

What are you most proud of in your body of work?

I find the most satisfaction in having balance in the kinds of projects that I direct.  I love that I’ve had the opportunity to create a diverse body of work composed of different mediums of filmmaking (i.e. videos, TV, commercials, hopefully a film soon) and of different genres (from drama to comedy).  It’s always been important to me to work on projects that are different in content and type in order to satisfy the needs of my artistry and that speak to my values as a person.  I look forward to continuing to do this throughout my career.  

 

What are your strengths as a director?

I’m fully vested in every project I choose to be a part of.  I dive deep into my work and give each project all of my time and focus.  I approach every project as if it were a thesis, researching the history, imagery, voice, and genre of my subject, so that every choice feels authentic to the story that I’m telling.  Also, I have a tenacious need to be involved in every single detail.  

 

What's your favorite film from Childhood?

That’s definitely an unfair question I won’t answer!  I don't play favorites.  But I can name a few…

 

Daughters of the Dust, In the Mood for Love, The Color Purple, The Wiz, Ikiru, The Royal Tenenbaums, Life is Beautiful, Run Lola Run, West Side Story, Belly, American History X, Mo Betta Blues, All About my Mother, The Harder They Come, Coming to America…  

 

I'm going to stop there because obviously this list does not have an end.

 

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received from another filmmaker?

My film Yoda once said, never compromise and only commit to projects that are of value to me.  Words I live by.

The Alice Initiative

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