Friday, July 06, 2007

It's Reader Participation Day: Part I - Feminism and Film

Yesterday, I asked you what kinds of things you'd be interested in reading. Given that I gave you all of a day, I think I got some good responses. So, as promised, I now tackle your topics. Part II, which will be right above this one, is about the title of my blog, and what it means. Part I is about feminism and film: Jaclyn asked me what films I would feature, and why, if I were in charge of a feminist film festival.

That's a tough one, because (I'm almost embarassed to admit) I'm rather unfamiliar with feminist film. The majority of mainstream American film doesn't seem to be particularly feminist, though there are a few that I'd consider feminist friendly, for sure. Obviously, I'd put Alien/Aliens in there- I've written about that before, though. After reading Amanda's review of 28 Days Later, it might get a place, as well. I think I'd be remiss in not including Antonia's Line, as well, but since I actually learned about that movie through Jaclyn, I suppose that's not particularly helpful.

So, those are easy because I've written about them before or been told about them. So, let's go for the harder ones.

I suppose I'd have to start the festival off with something by Helke Sander- I confess that I've never seen her work, but the impression I get is that she's a pretty important feminist film-maker. So, I'd start with something by her, if for no other reason than that I want to see what she's all about.

I think that the Killing Us Softly documentaries are sort of a must see. I haven't seen the newest one (2000), but I remember watching the first one, and the analysis of the way that women and women's bodies are portrayed in advertising is important.

I'd also include A Question of Silence, which follows an investigation into the murder of a shop-keeper by three women. The movie serves as a device to explore the nature of sex-based oppression, and is an excellent analysis of the ways that the personal can become political- the murder of the shop-keeper is assumed to be an act with some kind of individual, personal, or phsychological motive, but, by the end, the psychiatrist (and the viewer) realize that the murder was, in fact, a political, not personal, act stemming from larger social inequalities. There's a lot here about the ways that women interact with each other, and how connections can be made.

I've heard some good things about Girls Town, as well, though- like Sander's films- I haven't seen it. It deals with a girl who commits suicide, and how the fallout from this leads her friends to question their roles as working-class women in our society.

I've got a strong soft spot for The Children's Hour, with Audry Hepburn, so I might include that, as well, for an example of how women's sexuality can be used as a weapon against them.

I think that's a solid start... I'm going to think on this some more, because I'm sure that there must be many great films I'm missing. Anybody else have suggestions that they'd add to our little festival?

Also: if you've got more ideas, feel free to throw them here- I'm going to try to reserve Friday to answer reader questions or to blog about suggested topics. Friday can be Reader Participation Day. Huzzah!


Jaclyn said...

Oh, I *loved* GirlsTown. One of my all-time favorite movies. I actually own it, which is saying something, because I don't buy movies practically ever. Not exactly a feelgood flick, but so, so raw & powerful, with the amazing Lili Taylor to boot.

thinking girl said...

Hey Roy -

I've got a few faves, but the one that jumped to mind immediately for me is Whale Rider. I love that film.

Jaclyn said...

Y'know, I've never seen Whale Rider, even though numerous folks have recommended it to me. It just looks a little... heavy-handed? Like a This Movie Has A Moral kind of movie? Am I off-base?

Stupendousness said...

The moral of Whale Rider is apparent from the beginning, but it's a wonderful movie. I loved watching the young girl; she reminded me of myself. The characters are realistic, which always warms me to a story.

Natalie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Natalie said...

Whale Rider is really fantastic. It does have a moral, but it feels fresher than most morality tales. And I wouldn't necessarily put it in the heavy-handed category. I think it definitely should be included in a list of must-see films.

Note to Roy: I haven't had internet access for a few days so I wasn't able to get in on the reader participation one-day-only event. :( Can I please reassert my suggestion that you discuss the 2008 presidential candidates? I would be really interested to hear your thoughts.

EG said...

Feminist Film Festival movies:

The Company of Wolves
Valerie and Her Week of Wonders
Thelma and Louise (somebody has to add it!)
Saving Face
I second the first two Alien movies, which are the only Alien movies whose existence I acknowledge, as far as I'm concerned the series ended with Ripley et al in sleep pods headed home, and if you attempt to tell me any different, I shall put my fingers in my ears and sing very loudly.
Ginger Snaps
On the Town (two of the best female characters ever--a sexually aggressive taxi driver and a sexually aggressive anthropologist; well, I like it)
When Ladies Meet (a pre-code movie with Myrna Loy about a man's mistress who meets his wife--the two women get along famously; the man is completely castigated for his behavior; his wife leaves him; he and the mistress break up; his mistress remains unpunished and unscathed)
Curse of the Cat People (which I would argue is feminist because the main characters are all female: the little girl, her mother, her teacher, the mother and daughter in the scary house, the maybe-imaginary-maybe-not friend--it's a movie completely about relationships among women and girls)