Hankies out for the female film

The bosom buddy is upon us. A new generation of female- friendship films from Hollywood shows that "sisters are doing it for themselves" at last. The films make good box office returns for modest budgets.

American women have been weeping and hugging as they emerge from showings of How to Make An American Quilt, which has been playing in the United States since the beginning of the year and has just opened in Britain. It follows Now and Then, another "sisterhood" film with a virtually all- female cast including Christina Ricci and Demi Moore.

Quilt is a piece of ensemble work, with strong roles for Winona Ryder, Anne Bancroft, Ellen Burstyn, Jean Simmons, Kate Nelligan, Samantha Mathis, Lois Smith, Alfre Woodard and America's unofficial poet laureate, Maya Angelou.

Before Quilt there was Waiting to Exhale, a "feelgood" female buddy film about three black sisters, with a sound-track by Whitney Houston, who also stars in it. Largely female audiences have been shouting encouragement to the strong women in the all-black cast, while hooting and hissing at the hopeless men they encounter.

Also on the way from the US is The Truth About Cats and Dogs with Uma Thurman and Janine Garosalo as pretty and dumpy buddies, which has done brisk business, and The Craft, about four young female outsiders who forge a weird sisterhood through witchcraft.

Robin Swicord, who wrote a feminist screenplay that Louisa May Alcott would have been proud of for Winona Ryder's previous hit, Little Women, thinks the novel's March sisters blazed a trail. "The economic argument we made for Little Women was very strong: that there is a very large, multi-generational female audience out there, and that moderately priced women's films like this can be a success. Around town, everyone suddenly seemed to be making the same argument - and for the first time there were enough women in positions of power to listen."

Her theory explains why so many films about, by and for women - highlighting strong female friendships and celebrating sisterhood - are coming out of Hollywood. "Women's films" are also cheaper to make, partly because they dispense with special effects.

But one senior Hollywood woman, who asked not to be named, cited a less positive reason. "You can usually have 10 female stars, like some of these films do, for the price of one big box-office male. It's very depressing, but that's the way it is."

Sarah Pillsbury and Midge Sanford, co-producers of Quilt and now working on Barbara and Suzy Get A Life for MGM, agreed with Swicord.

"Women in Hollywood have reached the necessary critical mass in all areas at last," Pillsbury said. "When we were going around town with our first movie, Desperately Seeking Susan, in the early 1980s, the women we knew were not even vice-presidents."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
The two faces revealed by the ultraviolet light
newsScholars left shaken after shining ultraviolet light on 500-year-old Welsh manuscript
News
Rosamund Pike played Bond girld Miranda Frost, who died in Die Another Day (PA)
news
Arts and Entertainment
books
News
newsHow do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? With people like this
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: In House Counsel - Contracts

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading supplier of compliance software a...

Recruitment Genius: Associate System Engineer

£24000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Associate System Engineer r...

Recruitment Genius: Executive Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Executive Assistant is required to join a l...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - B2B, Corporate - City, London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat