Susan Seidelman Interview
By Skip Sheffield
When we last saw Susan Seidelman in 2012 she was directing an inspirational romantic movie called “Musical Chairs.” It is a tale about a woman who becomes disabled and in a wheelchair but goes on to compete in a dance championship anyway.
“I like underdogs and stories with social context,’ admits Seidelman, 60. “The Hot Flashes is all about underdogs. Everyone has a challenge to overcome: body issues, racism, sexuality, divorce and disease. That does not mean we can’t laugh.”
Sometimes the challenge is just the natural process of aging. In her 2006 film “Boynton Beach Club” a group of senior citizens deal with aging, dating, sex and loneliness. The story was based on an idea by Susan’s mother, Florence Seidelman, who actually lives in
Boynton Beach. All three of Seidelman’s most
recent films played at the Miami International Film Festival.
says Seidelman. “I visit often to see my mother. There is a lot to be learned
from older people. When I started out everyone was older than me. This time I
was older than the cast.”
“The Hot Flashes” was a six-year project with novice screenwriter Brad Henning. The film is dedicated to the memory of Brad’s mother Muriel, who died of breast cancer.
“Brad grew up in
and played basketball,” Seidelman explains. “As a middle-aged woman myself I
can relate to the characters. Brad and I did a lot of noodling back and forth
on the story.”
While the story is set in fictional Burning Bush,
Texas, it was actually shot in a suburb of New Orleans.
has many strong incentives to have movies shot there,” says Seidelman. “We got
additional breaks because we shot in an area that was damaged by Hurricane
Seidelman reveled in the fact she could cast a group of women who are fine actresses, yet do not get that much work in film. She stresses that the women trained very hard, eight hours a day for three weeks prior to shooting to believably play champion level women basketball players. She hopes the film will be an example to other directors to make better use of older women.
“Aging does not affect men’s movie careers as much as it does women,” she states. “That sad fact of
Hollywood is that after a certain age women
become invisible- unless that woman is Meryl Streep.”
Seidelman has a long career of guiding women in acting careers. Her first film, “Smithereens,” was the first American independent film to compete at the 1982 Cannes Film Festival in
France. Seidelman hit a home run
with “Desperately Seeking Susan” in 1985, which featured singer Madonna in her
first film role. The film also gave a jump-start to the careers of Rosanna
Arquette, Aiden Quinn, John Turturro and comedian Steven Wright.
“The Hot Flashes” is being marketed by a “platform release,” which means it has trial runs in selected areas.
Florida is one of only 12 markets.
“We truly home people will come out and see the film in its first weekend,” she says. “That is all-important for its future marketing. The Movies of Delray,
and anti-cancer groups have been very helpful to us. We even plan to have a
mobile mammogram unit parked at the theater.” Delray