L.A. Film Fest: Female editors plan to gather for lively forum

Women who spend most of their time in dark rooms will come into the light on Saturday for a Los Angeles Film Festival panel titled "Women in the Cut: A Celebration of Women Editors."

The gathering will follow in the footsteps of last year's panel hatched by festival director Stephanie Allain, which celebrated female animators.

This time around, Mary Sweeney, the editor behind such David Lynch films as "Mulholland Drive" and "Twin Peaks" and currently a screenwriting professor at USC, will moderate a panel that includes Richard Linklater's editor, Sandra Adair ("Before Midnight," "Bernie"); documentary editor Kate Amend ("Into the Arms of Strangers," "Birth Story: Ina May Gaskin and the Farm Midwives"); J.J. Abrams' frequent collaborator Maryann Brandon ("Star Trek Into Darkness," "Super 8"); Academy Award nominee Pamela Martin ("Hitchcock," "The Fighter"), and Kim Roberts ("Waiting for Superman," "American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs"). 

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Though legendary editor Thelma Schoonmaker, Martin Scorsese's longtime collaborator, won't be able to attend, she will be sending a video clip that highlights her contributions to the field.

Sweeney is most excited to commune with these women, whom she doesn't often get to talk to about the challenges and frustrations that come with the job.

“We’ve all seen their movies: ‘Star Trek,' ‘Hitchcock,’ ‘The Fighter.’ We want to hear about all of their practices,” said Sweeney. “The deadlines are hard and fast, and it gets very insane as you get closer to it. It’s high-stress, intensive, focused work. We have a personality for that and like it, but it still takes its toll.”

Sweeney will also dedicate part of her discussion to the differences between editing features and editing documentaries — films where editors often serve as writers and often have much more autonomy.

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"I imagine it's a creatively fulfilling and engaging process as opposed to when you have a giant film and you are constricted to the script and the studio and you have many, many more collaborators, including the special-effects people."

Sweeney will be showing clips from each of the editors' work but hopes to open up the discussion to the room, which she expects will be filled with lots of other female editors.

"It will be really interesting to be in a room with a lot of women who spend a lot of time alone in a dark room," she quipped. 

The panel will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at Regal Cinemas in downtown L.A.

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