Exclusive: Lebanese Housewife Rises Above Social Conditioning by Becoming a Film Producer in London
On the occasion of Women’s History Month, we want to introduce to you another paragon of feminine empowerment. Huda Cotran, a Lebanese film producer in the UK that thinks people her age are “a sad age group”. Cotran explains that after their kids went off to university, a lot of women in her social circle lost incentives to do much, often ending up “bitter and wondering why everyone hates them”.
Those are all very common symptoms of the empty nest syndrome experienced by many mothers, which didn’t leave Huda Cotran emotionless. “The woman is the anchor of society,” she says “and I see the breakdown of society, the deterioration of woman”.
She adds, “although I didn’t go to top universities – I hated school – but I couldn’t believe that that’s it. It’s finished! This is the end of the road. My children go to university and I have to go and have lunches and dinners to occupy myself and listen to nonsense”
Cotran had to take the bull by the horns so she started by talking to her loved ones. “I told my husband that’s it, it’s either I commit suicide or I go into the film industry”. Her other half pulled some strings because he could. Huda was introduced to Lisa Lambert, only one of the top-notch executive producers in the biz.
This is how Huda Cotran ended up working on her first movie ever, ‘We Need To Talk About Kevin’, which FYI if you don’t know is a modern classic that will go down in history. Starring Tilda Swinton and Ezra Miller, this psychological thriller drama is a piece of art.
However, Huda gives credit for her debuts in cinema to a female plumber. Eight years ago, a plumber came to her house and it turned out she was also a TV and film producer. She told her about a book that they both rewrite into a script.
“But I couldn’t get a proper producer or anyone to have a look at the project”, Cotran confesses. She knew she had to shoot for the stars if she wanted to succeed so she tried hitting the biggest producers in England. One of them, Simon Relph ended up taking her to a charity event where she sat at the table with one of the most respected film producers, David Puttnam. Cotran remembers she was the last bidder with Harvey Weinstein for a signed script of ‘My Week with Marilyn’. Puttnam told her to drop it and that he’d give her a signed script himself. He was known to dislike Weinstein (as we now know many do). Cotran won the bid anyway. As you might have figured out by now, she’s not much of a loser…
Later on, Puttnam advised her to throw two of the scripts she was excited about in the bin. He then more recently came up to her with the script of ‘Loving Vincent’, a very innovative film bringing to life oil paintings in an animation using real actors. Loving Vincent was nominated for many awards this year and the last.
Between her two major movies, Cotran took a four-year gap. “I don’t jump on a project just for the sake of it”, she says. If she could though, Huda Cotran would only do comedies. “I love to go and laugh” but she adds, “unfortunately we’re surrounded by upheavals and real misery. And the cinema and the arts reflect the era you’re living”.