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You probably best know Diablo Cody as the hand that held the pen (or, you know, the keyboard) from whence the unavoidable catchphrase "Honest to blog" sprang. However, Cody has more up her sleeve than just "Juno" (which, ahem, won a little something called an Oscar) and her more recent feature, "Young Adult." On top of being an Academy Award winner (and now, voter), she's also a co-chair of the Athena Film Festival. The fest, which will run at New York's Barnard College from February 7th to 10th, celebrates female filmmakers and women in leadership positions in the film industry.
Ahead of the festival's opening, NextMovie caught up with Cody to talk about the state of the Fempire, why more women should strive to make mediocre movies and which script she wishes she had written (hint: It was directed by Michael Bay).
The Athena Film Festival is coming up — why do you think it's important that women have their own festival? Is it important, or is it more fun?
This is my second year in a row with the festival. I'm a co-chair. The festival is, to me, very important and very necessary because it's a celebration of women who are not only creating films, but are in leadership positions in the film industry and I think it's pretty obvious when you look at the data coming out of Hollywood that women are super underrepresented in the mainstream movie business. I mean, all you have to do is look at this year's Oscar nominees. It's pretty frustrating: Not a single woman nominated for best director, and out of all of the screenwriters nominated, only one is female. For me, I know there are some people who might turn their noses up at the idea of a women's film festival, but for me, it's incredibly important. It's something that we need because those opportunities are not necessarily being created in the business at large.
What do you think makes for a good female character?
You know what, I couldn't even answer that question, because to me, it's like, what makes a good character? It shouldn't matter, male or female. Somebody asked me earlier if I thought it was really important to tell stories about women's struggles. And I said yes, but at the same time, it's also important to tell stories about women's triumphs, women being slackers, women being criminals, women being heroes. You know, it shouldn't just be about women as heroic figures overcoming things, it just needs to be about women in general getting the opportunity to play a multitude of roles, telling a multitude of stories — just to express human experience from a woman's perspective. I hope, someday, we can get to that point. I'm all about representation.
I've infamously just said that I wish there were more women out there making crappy movies. Every single week, all these shitty movies come out that are directed by men. Like, women should have the same opportunities to be mediocre and sucky! It shouldn't just be like, oh, a woman is directing a movie, so it better be great because it's representing all of us. That's not fair! Let a woman go out there and make something sh**ty, that's step one.
Is there a movie out there that you wish you'd written?
All of them. I wish I had written "Lost in Translation." Are you talking specifically about the festival? Actually, you know, I wish I had written "Transformers" and gotten points on the back end. That's what I wish, because then I would be retired. What was the highest-grossing movie that I could do? That's what I wish I had written.
But what about scripts that you admire?
I mean, this is not a movie, but I wish I was responsible for the TV series "Girls." I love it. I love Lena Dunham. I'm a movie lover and so I hope that someday I can write something that I consider as good as the stuff my heroes have written, and I don't think I've done that yet. Working on it!
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Oh, is the Fempire going to adopt Lena Dunham?
You know what, she's too fancy for us. She's her own Fempire. She does not need us. But the Fempire is still intact! We are still very close-knit and supporting each other and we are all still making stuff, more than ever, so I'm proud of that. I'm proud of the fact that almost five years after that article we're all still doing it.
Who would you want to play you in a movie of your life?
I want Maggie Gyllenhaal. I don't know why. I don't think she necessarily looks like me or acts like me, I just think she's a cool actress and she could play me, so there you go.
"Juno" is infinitely quotable. Have you ever quoted your own writing, accidentally or on purpose?
Oh god, no! I do not quote my own movies. I think I would be pretty insufferable if I did. Something weird did happen recently though. I hadn't seen "Juno" in a really long time, a really really long time, I hadn't seen it in years, and there was something in it that made me laugh, and I was really embarrassed that I laughed at it. Like, did I really just laugh? I was alone and I put it on, and for a second there was just this disconnect where I forgot that I wrote it and I laughed at a joke and I went, "Oh my god, weird." I think it was when they were in the park, and Juno says something like she was hoping the adoptive mother would be like, an Asian graphic designer who plays bass. Something like that, she had a really specific list of criteria, and for some reason that made me laugh out loud and then I was ashamed of myself.
So do you typically avoid your movies when they come on?
Oh my god, you have no idea. It is a rule in this house that if something I have been involved in comes on, we turn it off immediately. I can't sit for a second, it makes me very uncomfortable. It's like looking at your own barf.
Your movie-barf won you an Oscar though. Where do you keep it?
My Oscar is in the most boring place imaginable. It's on a mantle with family pictures. You know, it doesn't have its own special lighting or anything like that. Sometimes it ends up almost getting kind of shoved to the back. It just looks like a tchotchke from vacation. It's got a very casual placement in the house.
And, lastly, what would your porn star name be?
Oh gosh, I don't think I need a porn star name. I've already been Diablo Cody for the last 10 years. I think I've pretty much got that sewn up.