Maureen Blackwood – Perfect Image? (1989)

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Bright and imaginative in its approach to its subject, PERFECT IMAGE? exposes stereotypical images of Black women and explores women’s own ideas of self worth. Using two actresses who constantly change their personae, the film poses questions about how Black women see themselves and each other and the pitfalls that await those who internalize the search for the “perfect image”! Continue reading

Yermek Shinarbayev – Mest AKA Revenge (1989)

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A child is raised in Korea to avenge the death of his father’s first child in this decades-spanning tale of obsession and violence, the third collaboration between director Ermek Shinarbaev and writer Anatoli Kim. A study of everyday evil infused with philosophy and poetry, this haunting allegory was the first Soviet film to look at the Korean diaspora in central Asia, and a founding work of the Kazakh New Wave. Rigorous and complex, Revenge weaves luminous imagery with inventive narrative elements in an unforgettable meditation on the way trauma is passed down through generations. Continue reading

Barbara Sternberg – Transitions (1982)

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“Transitions” is a film of inner life and speaks of time, reality, power. It depicts the disquieting sensations of being between – between falling asleep and being awake, between here and there, between being and non-being. These metaphysical themes are evoked by the central image of a woman in white over which layers of images and sound (voices) are superimposed. Continue reading

Edward Yang – Qing mei zhu ma AKA Taipei Story (1985)

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Lung, a former member of the national Little League team and now operator of an old-style fabric business, is never able to shake a longing for his past glory. One day, he runs into a forme teammate who is now a struggling cab driver. The two talk about old times and they are struck by a sense of loss. Lung is living with his old childhood sweetheart Ah-chin, a westernized professional woman who grew up in a traditional family. Although they live together, Ah-chin is always weary of Lung’s past liason with another girl. After an argument, Ah-chin tris to find solace by hanging out with her sister’s friends, a group of westernized, hedonistic youths. Continue reading

Harun Farocki – Bilder der Welt und Inschrift des Krieges AKA Images of the World and the Inscription of War (1989)

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The vanishing point of is the conceptual image of the ‘blind spot’ of the evaluators of aerial footage of the IG Farben industrial plant taken by the Americans in 1944. Commentaries and notes on the photographs show that it was only decades later that the CIA noticed what the Allies hadn’t wanted to see: that the Auschwitz concentration camp is depicted next to the industrial bombing target. (At one point during this later investigation, the image of an experimental wave pool – already visible at the beginning of the film – flashes across the screen, recognizably referring to the biding of the gaze: for one’s gaze and thoughts are not free when machines, in league with science and the military, dictate what is to be investigated. Continue reading

Katherine Gilday – The Famine Within (1990)

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Katherine Gilday’s impressive documentary debut The Famine Within focuses on the debilitating and unattainable ideal of a woman, and its devastating effects on the health and morale of women, particularly, young North American women.

The film suggests that consumerism (fuelled by the gazillion-dollar diet, fitness and fashion industries) and mass media are largely responsible for creating and spreading this image. In one example, the film documents a model search. Of the 40,000 women (mostly teenagers) who felt qualified to respond in the first place, only four met the agency’s physical requirements. Even these four girls aren’t “ready” until they are polished, primped, posed and airbrushed for popular consumption. In today’s body-centered, youth-oriented culture, this image becomes a dangerous catalyst for the ever-increasing number of young North American women developing harmful eating disorders. In their obsessive pursuit of the perfect body, many women become anorexic, bulimic or, ironically, diet their way to obesity. Continue reading