Meet The Woman behind 'The Wolfpack' & The New Miu Miu Short
Director Crystal Moselle may have just recently gotten back from the Venice Film Festival, where she debuted her film That One Day—the latest installment in Miu Miu‘s Women’s Tales series—but nevermind that. She forgot she had a doctor’s appointment, she emails me, and wants to know if we can reschedule our chat. This is the director, mind you, who won last year’s Sundance Grand Jury prize for her documentary The Wolfpack. Clearly the accolade hasn’t gone to her head; the woman is chill and easy to talk to, someone you could easily grab a couple drinks with (ahem).
Which might actually explain (at least in part) her success. Both That One Day and The Wolfpack could essentially be called character studies—and for both films, she met her subjects by chance on the streets of New York and had to convince them to let her into their world. The origin story for That One Day started with a chance encounter on the G train with two members of the mobile pop-up skate park, Skate Kitchen, Rachelle Vinberg and Nina Moran. Moselle then spent the subsequent few months getting to know the rest of the crew, and the rest is history—or, rather, That One Day.
Now among the ranks of other Miu Miu collaborators like French New Wave pioneer Agnés Varda and Selma director Ava DuVernay, Moselle’s film is beautifully nostalgic, filtered through a dream-tastic, Polaroid-tinged haze. Vinberg plays the main character who stumbles in the face of casual sexism at a skate park, but finds backup by way of some fellow lady skaters. She follows them, befriends them, and becomes one of them—and as we cut to the girls a bit later, laughing and talking about relationships, clad in Miu Miu and some of their own clothes, it’s clear the film perfectly captures the awkwardness and beauty that is youth, and the power that comes from finding your own voice.
We caught up with Moselle to discuss this fragile age, dealing with sexism, and the rise of a new film genre.
How did you come up with the title?
It’s a reference to when I was developing the story idea with the [Skate Kitchen]—Rachelle [Vinberg] was talking about this one day she had with her girls where she went on top of a roof for the first time and saw the city and everything was so amazing, and she just felt this transformation inside her.
This is your first scripted piece. How was the writing process?
It was really a collaboration between myself and the girls. It’s inspired by Rachelle’s life. [So] I would hang out with the girls and take notes of things they were saying,… everything that they talked about and what they’re going through.
When we were working, we would block out these scenes and just act naturally under imaginary circumstances. We added a couple of things last minute… and I think that actually worked better than having a script.
I was watching Miu Miu’s interview with you where you mentioned you were interested in that “transformation age, when she’s developing and starting to make her own rules.” Do you think this stage ever ends?
I think there’s a definite point. Like, I’m done with that time [but] I still dress the same way I dressed once I kind of came into myself. Of course you transform as you get older, but that’s the most pivotal one.
“By telling stories, that’s how you create history, that’s how you create change.”
The film is so relatable because we’ve all been that girl who gets teased by the boys in the playground. Do you think that just boils down to boys being boys?
I think that’s just the way things are set up in our society. We wanted to make this film—we’re extending this into a feature—because we want to change the conversation. I think it can feel pretty patronizing the way boys treat the girls in the skate world, and they want to change that. A guy will be like, “That was pretty good for a girl.” [Right now, that’s] kind of [the] way things are set up in their community and their subculture.
By telling stories, that’s how you create history, that’s how you create change.
Tell us more about expanding this short into a feature. Can you share any details yet?
It’s going to be half-scripted, half-narrative, kind of this new hybrid genre where it’s their life, but they’re ad-libbing it. You’re creating a film with your subjects, but… they’re playing themselves. It’s exciting to see this new genre coming up, like with Jonas Carpignano’s Mediterranea and A Ciambra.
How does it feel to be part of Miu Miu’s Women’s Tales series?
They were so wonderful to work with, they really just let you do your own thing. I really enjoyed working with them and their point of view… it’s really about the author, and there’s nothing commercial about it. And it’s great because I’ve been wanting to do a narrative short and it’s such an honor to do something people actually see, because it’s pretty difficult to show that type of [short, 12-minute-long] film these days.
How do you think your background in fashion and beauty influences the style of your work?
I started in the behind-the-scenes world, working with a ton of fashion photographers. I was pretty successful at it, and I think that’s really helped my documentary style, which is now helping my narrative style. So it’s all coming together—and this Miu Miu piece is like a perfect little marriage of all of those little parts of myself.
“Girls don’t have to be competitive. They can actually be there for each other.”
For me, I get really passionate about working out different groups of people. My next piece is on women and the water crises in Haiti, Kenya, and Peru, and it’s all character-based, [based on] women that I found. I’m inspired by these people. And the day I met Rachelle on the train, I had that same feeling.
[My work] has to have some sort of meaning… something to help people in some sort of way. Even the commercial work I do.
What do you hope people will take away from That One Day?
I think it’s a nostalgic film, but also I think it’s really just about the idea that girls don’t have to be competitive. They can actually be there for each other. And I think there are so many films about mean girls, and I wanted to tell a story about girls supporting [each other]. I want them to feel empowered.
Photos by Brigitte Lacombe.
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