During Pride Month, we are taking the opportunity to celebrate some of the many incredible queer artists that we know and love. Our next artist is the filmmaker Phyllis Nagy!
Phyllis Nagy is an American screenwriter, director, and playwright, known best for her work on the critically-acclaimed film Carol (2015). Born in New York City before moving to London at age 30, Phyllis’ work spans both of these different cultures.
Phyllis’ career took off in 2006 with Mrs. Harris (2006), a British made-for-television drama. Mrs. Harris tells the real life story of the headmistress Jean Harris (played by Annette Benning) and her scandalous affair with Dr. Herman Tarnower, a renowned cardiologist and bestselling author. Phyliss both wrote and directed the film, immediately demonstrating her talent for developing complex characters and crafting intimate, emotionally charged stories.
Carol (2015), Phyllis’ best known work, is a fantastic choice for Pride Month viewing. Adapted from Patricia Highsmith’s novel The Price of Salt, the film tells the story of a forbidden love affair between two women in the 1950s. Starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, the film once again garners two incredibly compelling main characters, and successfully navigates the effects of complex societal expectations for women and people at that time.
As an openly lesbian woman herself who was born only a few years after the film takes place, Phyllis surely incorporated some of her own experiences into the writing of the film along with Patricia Highsmith’s source material, making the story feel all the more raw and real. Phyllis was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for Carol.
In 2022, Phyllis was the screenwriter for Call Jane, which stars Elizabeth Banks as a 1960s housewife who must turn to the Chicago Jane Collective for help when she finds herself with a pregnancy she doesn’t want. In an effort to raise awareness for women’s reproductive rights in the months following the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the film partnered with Planned Parenthood and the Abortion Care Network to screen at abortion clinics throughout the US.
In addition to her filmmaking endeavors, Phyllis is also an esteemed playwright. Her works, which include Weldon Rising and Butterfly Kiss, similarly feature queer women at the forefront. These plays have been produced on renowned stages such as the Royal Court Theatre in London and the Public Theater in New York City.
Phyllis Nagy has displayed immense talent as a screenwriter, director, and playwright. Starting conversations about queerness and women’s rights while showcasing the nuance and humanity behind these issues, Phyllis tells stories straight from the heart.
© Julia Lasker (6/7/2023) FF2 Media
LEARN MORE/DO MORE
Read Jan Lisa Huttner’s review of Carol here.
CREDITS & PERMISSIONS
Featured photo: “Film director Phyllis Nagy at the 72nd Berlin International Film Festival” by Harald Krichel is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.