The Female Gaze

Ngozi Onwurah – Welcome II the Terrordome (1995)

The first feature ever directed by a black British woman is this ferocious, ambitious, dystopian nightmare influenced by African mythology, the films of Spike Lee, and the music of Public Enemy. A near-future inner-city ghetto implodes under the pressure of racial tensions, poverty, and police brutality, in “a world which doesn’t breathe so much as pant” (Time Out London). Read More »

Suzana Amaral – Uma Vida em Segredo (2001)

Young girl, born and raised in an isolated farm, is brought to a small town to live with her cousins, her only relatives. Once in town, she encounters great difficulty adapting to city life. Read More »

Mehrnaz Saeed-Vafa – Jerry & Me (2013)

Quote:
Iranian-American filmmaker Mehrnaz Saeedvafa traces her journey from growing up as young girl in Tehran to adjusting to life in America, while she reflects on how the films of Jerry Lewis spoke to her as an outsider in both countries. Peppered with clips from Lewis’ films, as well as other Hollywood classics, that have been dubbed into Farsi, this short documentary is “an invaluable cross-cultural lesson,” said esteemed film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum, who called Jerry and Me one of the best films of 2012. Read More »

Lynne Sachs – Still Life with Woman and Four Objects (1986)

The film portrait falls somewhere between a painting and a prose poem. Sachs looks at a fictional woman’s daily routines and thoughts. By interweaving threads of history and fiction, the film becomes a tribute to a real woman: Emma Goldman. Read More »

Ina Weisse – Das Vorspiel AKA The Audition (2019)

IMDB:
Anna Bronsky is a violin teacher at the Conservatoire. Against the advice of her colleagues, she imposes the admission of a pupil, in whom she sees a great talent. With a lot of involvement, she prepares Alexander for the end-of-year exam and neglects her young son Jonas, who is also a violinist and ice hockey fan. She moves away more and more from her husband, so fond of him, the French “luthier” Philippe Bronsky. At the approach of audition, Anna pushes Alexander towards performances more and more exceptional. The decisive day, an accident occurs, heavy consequence. Read More »

Donna Deitch – Desert Hearts (1985)

Quote:
Donna Deitch’s swooning and sensual first narrative feature, Desert Hearts, was groundbreaking upon its release in 1985: a love story about two women, made entirely independently, on a shoestring budget, by a woman. In this 1959-set film, adapted from a beloved novel by Jane Rule, straitlaced East Coast professor Vivian Bell (Helen Shaver) arrives in Reno to file for divorce but winds up catching the eye of someone new, the free-spirited young Cay (Patricia Charbonneau), touching off a slow seduction that unfolds against a breathtaking desert landscape. With undeniable chemistry between its two leads, an evocative jukebox soundtrack, and vivid cinematography by Robert Elswit, Desert Hearts beautifully exudes a sense of tender yearning and emotional candor. Read More »

Michèle Rosier – Mon coeur est rouge (1976)

Michèle Rosier (1930-2017) was a pioneering fashion designer (she created the vinyl-intensive V de V sportswear label), a journalist who worked as editor of the women’s lifestyle magazine Le Noveau Femina, and an avowed leftist. She also had a 40+ year career behind the camera, directing several documentaries for French television as well as a handful of theatrical features, most famously the George Sand biopic GEORGE QUI?, starring Anne Wiazemsky. Rosier’s cumulative body of work is staggering, and the movies bely an utterly idiosyncratic filmmaking sensibility: wryly funny, curious about people, jazz-suffused (with scores by Mal Waldron, Keith Jarrett and Aldo Romano) and forever interrogating the limits of liberation in post-1968 France. Read More »