Monday, September 24, 2018

Time's Up for the Male Canon


I have a piece at Film Quarterly, in the online column, Quorum. Here is an excerpt:

What will it take to break the stranglehold of male domination in filmmaking? Despite the ever-increasing outcry, amplified by social media over the last few years, the work of women filmmakers continues to be overlooked, marginalized, erased. Of the many underlying causes, I would like to focus here on one: the enduring hold, on film culture, of auteurism. [...]

[One systemic force that has marginalized women's filmmaking] can be seen playing out in the widely embraced auteurist credo, most famously articulated by François Truffaut, that the worst film by an auteur is more interesting than the best film by a non-auteur. When translated into viewing and writing practices, this principle ended up having two important effects. First, it drastically narrowed the domain of work that merited serious writing and conversation, since the title of “auteur” was awarded stingily to only a few filmmakers—usually, men. Second, it trained the focus of criticism on an auteur’s entire oeuvre, returning to it time and again, tunneling ever deeper to explore the stylistic signature and themes of the films, no matter how “good” (or not) these films were deemed to be. Auteurism thus became an ingenious mechanism for ceaselessly multiplying discourse on a limited number of directors: a manspreading machine.


pic: BFI’s “Woman with a Movie Camera” summit, June 2018, with programmer Anna Bogutskaya. Photo credit: Hannah Leigh Prior.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

TIFF 2018: The Round-Up


Best-of-Fest:

What You Gonna Do When the World’s on Fire? (Roberto Minervini, USA)
What is Democracy? (Astra Taylor, USA)
Out of Blue (Carol Morley, UK)
High Life (Claire Denis, France)
Transit (Christian Petzold, Germany)

Really Enjoyed These Too:

The Grand Bizarre (Jodie Mack, USA)
Can You Ever Forgive Me? (Marielle Heller, USA)
Monrovia, Indiana (Frederick Wiseman, USA)
Rafiki (Wanuri Kahiu, Kenya)
Mouthpiece (Patricia Rozema, Canada)

This Film Can Help Us Start Conversations in Every Home and Classroom:

What is Democracy? (Astra Taylor, USA)

Female Collective Authorship is the Future:

Mouthpiece (Patricia Rozema, Canada). Wrote a few words about it at Cinema Scope.

A Revelatory Moment When I Realized:

That I’m way more interested in hearing about Arab history and cinema from the voices of Arab people than I am from the 30-minute barrage of images and sounds devoted to the subject in Jean-Luc Godard’s The Image Book.

A Good Movie Marred by the “Woman as Savior” Trope:

Ash is the Purest White (Jia Zhang-ke, China)

Building Entire New Worlds:

Out of Blue (Carol Morley, UK)
High Life (Claire Denis, France)

Dying to Rewatch:

Out of Blue (Carol Morley, UK)
High Life (Claire Denis, France)
Transit (Christian Petzold, Germany)

I Read More Un-illuminating, Unsympathetic Reviews of This Movie Than Any Other:

Out of Blue (Carol Morley, UK)

I am a Fan, and Will Follow Wherever She Leads:

Marielle Heller: Will You Ever Forgive Me? (2018) and Diary of a Teenage Girl (2015)

Heavenly, Eye-Melting Colors, Costumes, and Jewelry:

Rafiki (Wanuri Kahiu, Kenya)

Best Use of Songs:

“I’ll be Seeing You” (Brenda Lee, in Carol Morley’s Out of Blue)
“Under the Milky Way Tonight” (The Church, in Carol Morley’s Out of Blue)
“Road to Nowhere” (Talking Heads, in Christian Petzold’s Transit)

Best Q&A’s:

Astra Taylor, What is Democracy?
Jodie Mack, The Grand Bizarre

Movies I Most Regret Missing:

Reason (Anand Patwardhan, India)
If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins, USA)

pic: What You Gonna Do When the World’s on Fire? (Roberto Minervini, USA)