The nature of the present job market is that many of us are forced to accept jobs we’d rather not have for health insurance. Customer service, working for Amazon, even working for Bard, as does the filmmaker Kelly Reichardt part-time. It doesn’t mean, like the legions who have come before her in a job market not kind to their free-spirited sensibilities, that she has to like it!
This week, in Variety, Reichardt’s frequent collaborator Michelle Williams said that Reichardt works so infrequently and at such a low budget that she has “spent a lot of time on [friends’] couches. Even as a revered filmmaker, she teaches [at Bard College] to supplement her filmmaking. Because she makes films infrequently, she doesn’t have health insurance through the DGA.”
It’s a bummer in half a dozen ways, surely, in part because everyone should have healthcare regardless of employment status, and also because Reichardt deserves greater funding and freedom in her work, but the real victims here, as in many cases, are the students of Bard.
As shared on Twitter yesterday, Reichardt’s RateMyProfessor reviews are middling, at best, averaging a savage 3.3 out of 5 for the same person who directed films like Wendy & Lucy, Meek’s Cutoff, Certain Women, and most recently First Cow.
“Kelly told me to my face not to be a filmmaker. I was 18 years old, and it was the first film class I ever took.” There’s nothing wrong with telling an 18-year-old, let alone an 18-year-old at Bard, that they shouldn’t do something. People should do it more, not less.
“Never helps, refuses to see students out of class.” Has it occurred to the students of Bard that perhaps Kelly was busy working on a lush, affirming story about the perils of capitalism in America called First Cow?
“Kelly loves calling out filmmakers on being cliche.” Sounds like the kind of thing we should all be so lucky to be privy to.
“While all the films I submitted were well received, she obviously caters to females in the class.” Lock her up!
“Does not care about you personally, just her own strict, unflinching ethos. Did not instill me with a love for film. Her dog's nice though.” That an artist of Reichardt’s caliber is so committed to her point of view should be seen as commendation-worthy and miraculous in the same world where other acclaimed directors are forced to say stuff like, “The world I come from and the world of Marvel, that has been divided in a way that’s so unfair and unfortunate — and to merge the way we did, I actually see the reaction as a testament to how much we had merged with each other; how uncomfortable that might make people feel.”
Kelly Reichardt doesn’t need to instill you with a love of film. You should already love film if you’re taking a class with Kelly Reichardt, one of the most important American independent filmmakers of the past two decades.
It is Reichardt’s job to make art, to the detriment of a liberal arts education at Bard. Fortunately, there are also plenty of students who get it, like the one who wrote, “She is tough and will rip your work to pieces, but she knows what she is talking about and is SMART. She can make people cry, but she means well and has great knowledge of the film industry.” That Reichardt should be able to make films and qualify for DGA health insurance is a given, but perhaps her work at Bard is even more important, cutting the wheat from the chaff in the film studies department, saving the world from wimpy and horrible future filmmakers.