Welcome to Auteuse Theory


Welcome to Auteuse Theory. The purpose of this blog is to allow us to think about and write about a range of films made by women, from silent re-discoveries to the latest releases, from activist documentaries to mainstream Hollywood features, taking in examples from across the globe, whether famous or obscure. We have no desire to force ham-fisted links between very different films and very different filmmakers, to insist that they fit some pre-designated template of women’s cinema. Quite the opposite; we want to explore the diversity of forms taken by women’s filmmaking across different nations and eras. So why focus on women as a separate category at all? Why isolate their films from those of their male peers and think about them as some kind of exceptional or special case? Well, there’s still the matter of persistent inequality of opportunity within certain key authorial roles in the film industries. We all know the stats: even now, post-Bigelow Oscar win, women only constitute 10% of directors globally, and 15% of screenwriters. This is an improvement on previous years but it’s still (obviously!) a very minor proportion of the whole. As the British director Lynne Ramsay has commented, it’s ‘a bit like a country not being filmed – and that country not having a voice. It really does matter.’ And although we are very reluctant to make simple equations between the fact of there being a woman being at the helm of a film and that film offering a more complex picture of femininity (there have always been battalions of male directors who are very good at telling female-focussed stories), there is nonetheless plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest that this is often true.

Our main subject is film but we will inevitably make forays into television and other media from time to time. We will be focussing predominantly on films directed by women, but we’re also interested in including films which demonstrate female authorship in other ways (writing, producing or performance). And we won’t be thinking about those films solely as women’s films. We don’t want to ghettoise them, so we’ll be connecting them to the time and place of their production, or their place within a genre or a movement, as much as we connect them to each other. There will be no rhyme or reason to the films that we discuss or the order in which they appear, instead we’ll be hoping for serendipitous connections, unexpected correspondences, sharp contrasts, strange juxtapositions; in other words, a blog that aims to be perpetually different and surprising. Most of the writing will be undertaken by the two main authors but interspersed with guest reviews from others who will each bring a fresh perspective.

And, finally, why the title Auteuse Theory? We were scouting around for a name that indicated a response to the old-fashioned auteur theory, and its insistence on ‘virility’ as a marker of directorial quality (all that Hawks and Ford worship). Women hadn’t only been marginalised in the making of films but the select few who had managed to break through were often given short shrift in the founding critical histories of film (with the exception of the highly problematic case of Leni Riefenstahl), until feminist scholars put Arzner, Weber, Guy-Blache, Lupino and Varda back into the picture. And this work of excavation and rediscovery continues – see the Women Film Pioneers and Women and Silent British Cinema websites for ongoing examples. We are aware of the problems of using the French feminised form of a professional name, drawing a gendered distinction between male and female practitioners (just as some publications reject the word actress in favour of actor for both men and women), but in the spirit of subversion, we wanted to occupy and feminise a word - auteur - which still sits at the heart of so much film scholarship and film appreciation. And although the blog is called Auteuse Theory, it might be more appropriate to think in terms of 'theories', the more intellectually generous plural form. These are some theories and thoughts and ideas arising from watching these films made by women. We hope you enjoy reading them…


Wednesday, 9 October 2013

WOMEN ON WOMEN


CATARINA NEVES RICCI

After reading the manifesto of French feminist collective La Barbe on regarding the inexistence of women directors in the 65th edition of Festival de Cannes, producer and director Catarina Neves Ricci decided to give  voice to female filmmakers. And so was born WOMEN ON WOMEN. The film, now in development and seeking more co-producers, is written, produced and directed by Catarina Neves Ricci and co-produced by the Istanbul based Ajans 21, an established art-house production company specialized in documentaries on a wide range of social and cultural issues.

“That day, after reading the manifesto and seeing its consequences, I questioned myself: how can we keep working when it is systematically proven that distribution and promotion are not equal inside the film industry?” This could be a whole subject for a film, however WOMEN ON WOMEN goes beyond that. The director explains the artistic process she has been through since that day “I started to wonder about femininity, that particular ability to transform and to resist as a big core of the film I was willing to make. One of the sides of femininity is an appeal for challenge boundaries, to understand and seduce the dangerous, the no-fear. And that's the answer to how can we keep working anyway and after all”

WOMEN ON WOMEN wants to takes us on an unexpected journey across the life and work of 5 female filmmakers around the world.  Although all the names have not yet been disclosed, two are already known: Handan Ipek├ži, awarded Turkish director, known for her socio-critical films; and the Milano based Alina Marazzi, who’s cinema always speaks for herself: ironic, rigorous and bold, abolishing boundaries between documentary and fiction.With assumed influences from video art, experimental cinema, architecture and dance, WOMEN ON WOMEN fits in the perfect borderline between the poetic – providing a sophisticated visual language and sound - and the drama of what is narrated.

Due to its locations and characters this documentary touches directly on some of the hottest conflicts contemporary society is facing nowadays. The deep insights and questions these filmmakers and their films provoke on the audience are undeniable. As undeniable how important their presence is for a more creative film industry, and their roles as cultural agents on disclosure old taboos in their home territories.

“The methodologies are obviously multiple and diverse, but all the artists presented in this documentary are united in their use of cinema as a mean of intervention and attitude, taking on the role as outspoken and leading advocates for social and political matters “ stands Catarina Neves Ricci.