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Dance, girls, dance!

(»Women's Writing in Film History«, Human Rights Film Festival, Zagreb, February 2008)

The text reviews the films presented as part of a side-program of this year's fifth Human Rights Film Festival in Zagreb. The program was entitled Women's Writing in Film History and it presented thirteen films directed by well-known female directors. These films also focus on a typically female experience and this is why the term women's writing (écriture feminine) was used. Apart from deconstructive and subversive women's writing practices, the presented films also require contextualization within a three-wave history of the feminist movement because at a certain point in history it was after all enough that films are only political. So the author thinks that thirteen presented films could be roughly divided into those that play a political/ revolutionary role (implicit or explicit) by the means of engaged (feminist) contents (Mädchen in Uniform, Leontine Sagan, 1931; Dance, Girl, Dance, Dorothy Arzner, 1940; Orlando, Sally Potter, 1992; Napló gyermekeimnek /Diary for My Children/, Márta Mészáros, 1984; Borovi i jele: sjećanje žena na život u socijalizmu /Pines and Fur Trees: Women's Memory of Life in Socialism/, Sanja Iveković, 2002); those that do so by the means of emphasized subversion of traditional forms (The Smiling Madame Beudet, Germaine Dulac, 1923; Meshes of the Afternoon, Maya Deren, 1943; Sedmikrasky /Daisies/, Vera Chytilová, 1966; Unsichtbare Gegner /Invisible Adversaries/, Valie Export, 1977; Doručak s bakom /Lunch with Grandma/, Barbara Blasin, 2001); and those in which both the form and the contents are equally subversive in relation to traditional narrative structures (Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles, Chantal Akerman, 1976; Le Bonheur /Hapiness/, Agnes Varda, 1965; Kurz davor ist es passiert /It Happened Just Before/, Anja Salomonowitz, 2006). Although the selectors picked out exclusively European (and two American) classics, thus narrowing down viewers perspective of possible feminist (film) strategies, reducing it to a relatively homogenous group of women in terms of class, race and cultural background (mostly white middle-class women) — which was, if we try to remember, the objection to second wave feminism — they were well aware of this gap and they themselves mentioned it in the introductory note explaining that the programs is, despite of all the flaws, rather diverse and stimulating.

Mima Simić

A bit of everything and mostly space

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