SAMI’S PICKS – HEFORSHE

Introducing Sami’s Picks : a new column by contributor Sami Kriegstein. Sami will round up a selection of the best recent music videos directed by women and share them with us!

Sami Kriegstein is the founder and creative director of the Los Angeles Music Video Festival, which just celebrated its 7th year this past October! She is a filmmaker, entrepreneur and digital content maven who splits her time between New York and LA.

Take it away, Sami…

‘Tis the season for gratitude, and in addition to being energized and proud of the growing momentum for women directors in the industry, I’m also grateful for the men who are giving them a platform. After all, it isn’t enough for women to hire women (though it’s a fantastic start). For true sea-change, we need allies on all sides. So I decided to highlight a handful of standout music videos released in the last few months featuring a male artist, but directed by a woman.

Director: Floria Sigismondi
Artist: Perfume Genius
Song: Die 4 You

One of the themes I see over and over in womens’ music video work is an emphasis on the physical body, and the experience of having a body and living in one’s own skin. Sigismondi is a master, and “Die 4 You” is a darkly beautiful meditation on performance and desire, casting a sculptural, throbbing, disassociated “body” of skin and bone as the antagonist to the ethereal artist. This is a cabaret for the human condition that seems to explore the sometimes transcendent, sometimes grotesque, but ultimately redemptive relationship between performer and spectator.

Director: Nadia Lee Cohen
Artist: Gilligan ft. A$AP Rocky & Juicy J
Song: “DRAM”

This vid is my ultimate guilty-pleasure He-for-She. I love when rappers work with women directors, and Nadia nails it with the high-low art aesthetic – think Alex Prager meets John Waters. Yes, there are lots – and lots – of butts. Yes, there is twerking. But this is Art with a capital A, The over-the-top subversion here is delectable, and the song and humor of the artists works perfectly with the familiar Leave It To Beaver tropes. I heard Nadia hit up the artist directly over his website to avoid going through the label, and sent through a complete treatment, unsolicited. Gotta love that chutzpah. I mean, let’s be honest, she had me at dissatisfied housewife in ass-less chaps.

Director: Hannah Lux Davis
Artist: Jason Derulo
Song: “If I’m Lucky” (Part 1 and 2)

For straight up sexy bad-assery, look no further than Hannah Lux Davis, who hits her narrative stride in part one of this tequila-soaked Bonnie and Clyde update. The hint of something supernatural and the non-linearity at the top are nice touches to a familiar story. And IMHO no one nails dangerous women on screen better than women behind the camera. This one sizzles, and matches (or beats) Derulo’s charisma on every level. I loved touches like seeing her lick a lighter’s flame out of boredom, or catching the duo lighting cigs with a blowtorch. That pretty much sums it up. Part two extends the story into the afterlife, which is a great wink to the track, and lets Davis flex her muscles on a killer dance number.

Director: Allie Avital
Artist: Moses Sumney
Song: “Lonely World”

There’s a subtle but important distinction between “reverence” for women and straight up lust/objectification. Women directors in particular seem able to walk that line, and the results are always so much more complex and interesting to watch. “Lonely World” is a modern fable and cautionary tale that reclaims the mythical mermaid as a deadly temptress and somehow imbues her with the complexities of a fully fledged anti-hero. Avital and Moses Sumney have a long collaborative history together and this latest chapter casts a thrilling spell (if you want to see what happens when you splice D’Angelo’s “Untitled” with Goddess Theory, take a look at “Worth It” released last year).

Director: Beatrice Pegard
Artist: Grizzly Bear
Song: “Mourning Sound”

Finally, we have “Mourning Sound” the subversive, triumphant ode to the sacred Feminine. I swear these won’t all be hyper-Feminist music video reviews but you gotta admit, we’re having a moment. I love that Grizzly Bear went all-in on this witchy romp which serves up a coven of retro-chic, gainfully employed women flitting around a gorgeous dying mansion, flanked (literally) by naked dudes shaking their hairy butts together. Pegard is clearly having a blast pushing boundaries, and I almost cried with joy when one newly emancipated frolicker defiantly rips open her shirt and rainbows come out of her nipples. There’s a deeper message here for sure, about isolation and the patriarchy etc. etc., but the “stronger together” moral of the story wins the day, whether you read between the lines or not.

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