Female Filmmaker Friday: Lynne Ramsay, Master of the Image

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Lynne Ramsay is all about image and sound and how to tell stories through them.

Lynne Ramsay is a Scottish director, screenwriter, producer, and cinematographer from Glasgow. She studied cinematography and direction at the National Film and Television School in Beaconsfield, England. In 1996, she won the Cannes Prix de Jury for her short film Small Deaths. Her second, Kill the Day, won the Clermont Ferrand Prix du Jury. Her third short, Gasman, won her a second Cannes Prix de Jury, as well as a Scottish BAFTA for Best Short Film.

Ramsay’s feature debut came in 1999 with Ratcatcher, a grim look at 1973 Glasgow through the eyes of a young boy and the poor youth around him. The film won Ramsay several awards, including the Carl Foreman Award for Newcomer in British Film. In 2002, her film MorvernCallar won her leading actress, Samantha Morton, critical acclaim as a widow running away from her husband’s suicide.  Ramsay is most known for her film We Need to Talk About Kevin starring Tilda Swinton, a difficult narrative about a mother dealing with the aftermath of a school massacre committed by her son.

In April 2018, Ramsay is debuting her latest film You Were Never Really Here starring Joaquin Phoenix, about a veteran suffering from PTSD who now tracks down missing girls for a living.

Lynne Ramsay’s filming style is very tangible. She’s more interested in saying something with an image than with dialogue. “I'm thinking about sound a lot, quite early on, and how to get into the head of the character: how they move, what's in their mind, and how to do things in a very economical way.” Layers are especially important to her, as well as her own voice. It might frighten some adapters to diverge too much from source materials, but Ramsay isn’t afraid to put her own stamp on a project. She won and lost some jobs because of her take on a piece of fiction, but it’s this dark, tactile way of shooting that makes her films so distinguished.

Be sure to watch this video on her filmmaking style and celebrate the successes of Lynne Ramsay: