Monday, December 31, 2007

les Cent et une nuits de Simon Cinéma

A Hundred and One Nights 
Dir: Agnés Varda
Prod: 1995

Agnés Varda’s film, is a vibrant reflection of the first one hundred years of cinema told through the central character, Mr. Simon Cinéma (Michel Piccoli). Piccoli is not a surprising casting choice considering Michel has well over 200 film credits of his own as an actor plus numerous credits as producer, director, composer and writer. Though Simon is the principal focus of the film, the true main character is the cinema itself, voiced thorough those who bring it life. It is no coincidence that Simon is one hundred years old, as he is truly the physical embodiment of cinema.

The lesson of the film, if there needs to be one, is that cinema is not what it is today, without being what it was in years past.

At times, the film can feel like a list of titles out of a film history book, but Varda’s attention to detail in mise-en-scène make it far more rich than most history books. The film also lacks Vardas often harsh reality, but that doesn’t make the film any less appealing. Particularly when you consider that it is really a celebration of the love of cinema that brings its players together, both young and old.

Favorite line: “Italian neo-realism strikes again”

As an aside… for those of you who watch films on your computers, I could not for the life of me get the subtitles to play on my Mac. They worked just fine on my home DVD player, but for some reason, my computer would not recognize them.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Queer As Folk A Double Edged Sword of Queer Representations on American Television

In December of 2000, the Showtime premium cable network rocked American television with the US adaptation of the UK television program Queer as Folk (Russel T. Davies, 2000 - 2005). The show was by far the most aggressive and comprehensive representation of the queer community on television to date, moving queer characters from the roles of best friends, and supporting characters into the narrative focus. It was not the first time queer characters had been represented on television, but it was the first time that a television show attempted to chronicle the lives of characters almost exclusively queer.

While it never received mainstream critical acclaim, most gay critics hailed the show as a groundbreaking voice for the queer community. Queer audiences could finally tune into a program that would act as a reflection of their own lives, their struggles and the challenges they face on a day-to-day basis. Unquestionably, the show marked a new era in cable television with the advancement of queer imagery but it wasn’t immune to criticisms, even from within the queer community.

The frank and graphic depiction of sex and language, inclusion of stereotypical depictions of the queer community, lack of diversity within the show’s cast and oversimplification of queer issues would over the course of the five years of the program drew some criticism. The power and benefit of the show act as a double edged sword between positive queer presence and potentially reinforcing negative queer imagery.

At almost two hours long, the first episode not only established the characters the show would follow, but the controversial manner in which it would do it. Cradled in the safety of cable television, the show was less limited on its language use, ability to deal with sexually explicit material and full nudity of characters. In fact, the show was one of the most sexually explicit series on broadcast television with an appeal to mass audience. Initially, the targeted audience was queer (mostly gay men) but after the first few episodes, an un expected audience began to tune in: married heterosexual women. Perhaps the reason for this unintended demographic is the fact that the show’s nudity turned Laura Mulvey’s male gaze back on itself; reversing the typical female object of the male gaze, by instead turning the gaze onto men.

Whereas in the typical narrative structure the women are the focus of the sexual attention and the men are there to interact with the sexual female, withQAF the exact opposite is true. The women are represented as more “home bodies” and hyper feminine and the men as hyper masculine sexual beings. For example, the first time we see the lesbian characters Mel (Michelle Clune) and Lindsay (Thea Gill) it is right after Lindsay has given birth to their son Gus, but the male characters are each introduced in the confines of Babylon surrounded by men in a sexual context. Over the course of the series, Mel and Lindsay’s sexuality would be explored but given the fact that the cast was overwhelmingly male (of the seven main characters only two are womyn) the structure of the show lends itself to the over representation of male sexuality and the marginalization of the female.

However, the concentration of male sexuality, while simultaneously suppressing the female, isn’t just problematic in the representations of gender. It also acts as a potential reinforcement of the stereotype that gay men are more sexually promiscuous than womyn. Mel and Lindsay in their relationship have their indiscretions, but the male characters, particularly Brian (Gale Harold) and Emmett (Peter Paige) and Justin (Randy Harrison), are far more active. The first episode of the first season starts with a voice over by Mike (Hal Sparks) saying point blank “The thing you have to understand is that, it is all about sex” framing both the episode and the series which begins and ends in Babylon, a hotbed of male sexual prowess. However, the same could be said about a wide range of other television programs.

For example, Sex in the City (Darren Star, 1998-2004) features a cast of women whose sexual nature is anything but chaste. It could be argued that both shows do represent an aspect of their perspective communities, there are plenty of gay men and straight women who are sex-obsessed in the real world. However, because of the lack of other programs featuring queer characters shows like Queer as Folk do end up carrying more of an assumed representation than those like Sex in The City. The television landscape is full of programs depicting the lives of straight characters and with that comes a diversity of representation. When you only have one show, it tends to carry more socio-significance.

It could also be argued that the series lacks the depiction of diversity within the queer community. All the principle cast members are young, attractive and affluent. Surrounding the principal cast, there are flashes of socio-economic diversity but not in the core. Given that this single program has the potential to speak for the entire queer community, the stereotypical depiction of queer men and womyn as attractive and affluent potentially reinforces the idea that the queer community lacks the diversity found in the straight community.
Of course nothing could be further from reality, but the fact is that those are two of the stereotypes and myths that surround the queer community. In fact, other shows like Queer Eye for the Straight Guy (David Collins, 2003 - ) also work to reinforce the idea that (particularly queer men) are young, affluent and beauty conscious and that somehow we are there to “dress the world’s windows”.

While Queer as Folk can be seen as problematic, any criticism should be carefully considered. Knowing that the very nature of the series is already breaking new ground, the use of a race, class and socio-economically neutral cast allows the show’s writers to appeal to the larger audience. Also, over the course of the series, different factions of the queer community are depicted in various plot lines and issues that face the characters, so they are not without representation. By doing so, they were able to bring into focus ideas and conflicts most members of the queer community face. In fact, perhaps the one thing the series did the best was to weave controversial issues into the text of the show.

In the five years that Queer as Folk was on the air, they tackled some incredibly controversial and critical topics that impact the daily lives of queer Americans. It dealt with same-sex marriage, adoption, hate crimes, disease, drug abuse, discrimination, cures for homosexuality, ability for professional athletes to be open about their queerness, representations in media, just to name a few. From the very beginning the show sought to break ground and explore the possibilities of representing the queer community. The expectation that any one text can create a full and complete picture of the world is not only unrealistic but unfair.

Of course any television program, film or advertisement should seek to be inclusive. However, with the factioning of society it is nearly impossible to include every aspect of every community. Particularly when you remember that each program is a commodity in itself that must be sold to a network and continue to draw an audience. The sensitive writers and creators try to do what they can to include as many voices as possible, and the beauty of television is that they don’t have one forty five minute episode to do it in, but several in a season.

The struggle with representation is particularly difficult in a series like Queer as Folk because it represents a community that is under represented in the mass media landscape. Thus, it has the potential of being seen as the definitive representation of the entire queer community, a vision that is problematic at best. Because it exists one step outside of the “normalcy” of the white-heterosexual-Christian-male model it is subject to requirements that other television series, which exist within the model, don’t have to adhere to and that is when the real problems set in. A show like Queer as Folk couldn’t possibly hope to represent the whole queer community any more than Sex and The City could hope to represent the entire straight community, nor should it be seen as such.

In fact, in the realm of media criticism, when we look at television, film and advertisements and question why they don’t feature more diversity, the question should be directed back at our society with equal veracity. Mass media is not just a reflection of society, it is a construct of it as well. Meaning, if media lacks diversity, perhaps it is because we as a culture don’t want diversity. It is no coincidence that most television programs feature white, affluent and attractive characters. They do so because we as a society crave it, and because we have succumbed to the superiority of the ideas they represent.

If we as a society could manage to come together and collectively reject the mass media portrait of our lives then I am sure the media landscape would become even more inclusive. The challenge is overcoming the factioning of our media with niche programming and incorporating those ideas into the mass media fabric. It would be a great day when queer audiences can turn on their television and see their lives being played out on screen like their straight counterparts, not relegated to pay television but on national broadcast television where others might also see and begin to understand in primetime America.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Women Filmmakers: Voices From the Dark

A quick glance at the titles playing at the local megaplex reveals a lot about the modern Hollywood machine. Often the titles are sequels to previous box office hits with filmmakers hoping to ride the successes of “chapter one” to another mega box office hit. Others are based on novels and the few “original” ideas are only loosely reworked variations of other films. The films tend to feature work from a relatively small pool of actors (both men and women) and tell stories that the studios hope will bring the biggest box office receipts.

Looking at the names behind the titles on the marquees exposes the reality that the already limited stories are being told by an even more limited body of professionals, mostly white men. The films tend to have large budgets and are expected to be neutral enough to draw a large audience and as such, don’t tend to feature voices from cultural minorities seeking to challenge anglo-western patriarchal dominated cultural norms. These films speak to and reinforce imperialistic ideologies by relying on cultural stereotypes and prejudices to marginalize minority voices while reinforcing the superiority of the ideas expressed (McCabe 77). The films produced within the Hollywood machine are seen by millions of people worldwide and by default become our most familiar ambassadors to other lands.

The films in this vein combine to create billions of dollars a year in profits for the studios that produce them. The box office success of these films results in a form of economic democracy, with the pop culture audience voting for the films they enjoy by paying $10 and the industry makes more films like it, further perpetuating the cycle of films that fail to challenge the spectators and creators imperialistic ideals.

Instead, the films from subjugated and minority voices exist into the realm of film festivals and independent theatrical release. Very few of these films are given the attention, marketing and wide distribution that their more culturally neutral counterparts take for granted largely because it is just assumed that the audiences won’t be there to support the films financially. Of course there are exceptions (Sofia Coppola’s 2003 Lost in Translation grossed $106,454,000 in worldwide receipts ) but the vast majority of the films fail to gain the box office success of the other films.

Recently, I had the opportunity to screen three documentary films sharing a common theme, made by women directors. The films all centered on the Palestinian and Israeli conflict, specifically how the women in the two warring nations are working to bring an end to the violence. Each from its own perspective, the films approach the issue with passion and conviction, but not with the intent to provide answers. Instead, the filmmakers work to raise a dialogue between the two sides of the issue.

First, Lilly Rivlin’s film Can You Hear Me? Israeli and Palestinian Women Fight for Peace (2006), documents the women working on both sides of the conflict, trying to win peace not through violence, but through dialogue. The film is by and about the women in the movement. Second, Donia Mili’s Uprooted (2006), expresses the internal struggle between violent and non-violent activism in the quest for Palestinian liberation. The film ultimately asks which form of activism is most effecive in bringing about a solution.

Last, Samira Goetschel’s Our Own Private Bin Laden (2005) documented her journey to better understand the myth behind the world’s most notorious terrorist Osama Bin Laden. As an Iranian immigrant to New York City, she was forced to examine her own Middle Eastern identity after the events of September 11th, 2001. Her film challenges the audience to look inside themselves and find their own fears, hatred and prejudices, something she sees as each person’s own private Bin Laden.

Each of these films was produced outside of the Hollywood system and will most likely only screen in the film festival or art house environment, in part because they don’t fit the typical pop culture standards that viewers tend to want to watch. The perception is that films like these will only attract a limited audience and as such, don’t deserve a wide theatrical release. While this may be true, is the lack of mass appeal of films like these the fault of the spectator or the creators?

Take for example North Country (Niki Caro, 2005) a film driven by a female cast chronicling the first class action sexual harassment suit. This film places female characters in a central role and given the lack of films with strong female leads, the story should have brought out the female audience.

However, what seemed to have happed with North Country is what McCabe refers to as the separation between the spectator and the text writing: “Soon revealed in this investigation into cinematic identification and socio-cultural was a gap between feminism and real women, between political ideology and personal experience, between how feminist theory interpreted texts and how actual audiences made use of them” (38). Essentially, feminist films were being made but they couldn’t break through the popular cultural barrier of the dominant ideology of the spectator and get them to watch.

The struggle to overcome the cultural barriers doesn’t only exist in the context of feminist films. Other independent films llike Jehane Noujaim’s Control Room (2004) challenge the anglo-American audience to see the world from a different perspective. By following the media coverage of the beginning of the Iraq war through the lens of the Al Jazeera news network, it provides a perspective that would otherwise be denied to the American audience. The film comes to a head when correspondent Hassan Ibrahim challenges Lt. Josh Rushing to see the war from the point of view of Arab population.

Rushing doesn’t need to agree with the point of view but he has to understand it before he can realize that there is another valid side to the conflict. Lt. Rushing’s epiphany is seen by many to be dangerous because, by seeking to understand the “enemy” they become human, clouding the relationship between combatants. When the issues surrounding war become clouded, then the systems of domination and power that perpetuate the war are threatened. Noujaim asks us, the spectators, to follow Lt. Rushing’s example and begin to break down the barrier between “us” and “them”. The idea of hearing the point of view of the marginalized is undesirable for most of the population and thus films, which express the minority point of view, aren’t popularly received. It is far easier for the mass population to write off the film as radical or unimportant than to actually engage the film in the dialogue it hopes to begin.

The ability of minority or marginalized voices to express themselves isn’t limited to documentary or fact based films. Fictional narrative films can also challenge our worldview when we are asked to step into the perspective of a protagonist, which may not fit the profile we are accustom to. With her film The Woodsman (2004) Nicole Kassell brought to screen the story of Walter (Kevin Bacon) a man convicted of child molestation readjusting to life outside of prison. Few crimes carry an emotional response equal to child molestation and putting the narrative focus on a sympathetic character guilty of the crime is incredibly courageous.

Like the other films mentioned, The Woodsman seeks to challenge our generally accepted worldview and was produced outside the studio system. Also like the other films, its box office receipts were modest, not even reaching $2,000,000. In fact, if you consider the success of the film in box office receipts, the film failed to bring in even the independent viewing audience. Of course box office receipts aren’t the only way to judge the success of a film, but they do seem to indicate something about our modern culture.

It would appear that mass audiences don’t want their ideologies challenged and that even minority voices for some reason fail to come to their own stories. The films which seem to simply entertain or reinforce current ideologies gain popular support and generate millions of dollars in box office receipts. Consider Jackass: Number Two (Jeff Tremaine, 2006) with its near $76 million box office total with $72 million made here in the United State. If the measure of success is coming to the point of drawing mass audience, I for one am glad that the filmmakers discussed in this essay chose instead to break outside of the system and tell stories that challenge our ideologies.

The women filmmakers responsible for these films took risks to bring the stories to life and the distributors echoed the risk by bringing the films to audiences. Perhaps our culture will eventually come to the point where women filmmakers are allowed to tell their stories and be seen by mass audiences without having to sacrifice artistic and cultural integrity. For now, regardless of box office success, courageous women filmmakers will continue to express themselves and bringing their voice to light from darkened theatres.

Works Cited

McCabe, Janet. Femist Film Studies Writing the Woman Into Cinema. Wallflower: Great Britain

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

29th Starz Denver Film Festival

For ten days of every year, my life totally changes. Each November I devote most of my time and energy to one event the Starz Denver Film Festival. Over the past five years, I have worked with the festival in a variety of capacities which allow me a range of free time to enjoy the festival. This is the first year that I have worked with the festival in such a way that allows me to actually see the films and meet with the filmmakers. I can’t believe how lucky I am to be able to take part in this event.

The festival opened Thursday with the new Anthony Minghella film Breaking and Entering (2006) a rather complex film which will most likely take more than one viewing to fully appreciate. He was in attendance to accept the Mayor’s Career Achievement Award and had really interesting things to say about his film.

Unfortunately, I had to work most of the weekend so I didn’t get to screen many films but I did get to meet an incredible artist which set off a whole Hungarian wave at the festival. Vilmos Zsigmond has been the cinematographer on some of the most beautiful films (The Witches of Eastwick, Jersey Girl, The Rose, Deliverance, The Long Goodbye, just to name a few) and is an incredible man, with a inspirational story. I was honored to have a chance to meet with him and talk briefly about his work and his life. I can’t wait to see his next few films.

In conjunction with Vilmos Zsigmond’s visit, the film screened a new documentary on cinematography called Cinematographer Style (Jon Fauer, 2006) which features interviews of some of the most famous cinematographers of all time. The interviews are cut in such a way that by the end of the film, you feel as though you have watched one long interview with a single artist instead of a string of interviews with dozens. While it was a little exhausting watching, the construction was fascinating and worth the time.

Of course there are also parties and lounges to be enjoyed and I even got to have a really interesting conversation with Ian Somerhalder ("Lost", Sensation of Sight, Pulse, Rules of Attraction) about his new work and what it was like to work for Roger Avary in Rules of Attraction (Avery, 2002). And for those of you wondering, yes he is just as hot in person (if you go for that sort of thing).

Next on my list is a lineup of films directed by Womyn that are part of a series of films in the festival focusing on the Israeli and Palestinian conflict. I should have an opportunity to meet with these womyn and report back here later.

Till then, I am off to the movies.

See you in the dark.

Monday, October 23, 2006

29th Starz Denver Film Festival

The schedule is up and the movies are in! Check out the schedule on the Denver Film Society's website.

Your seat is waiting!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Screen It!

In doing some back research on reviews for Brokeback Mountain (Ang Lee, 2005) I came accross a website that has detailed reviews of films for families. Typically these sites cause the hair on the back of my neck to stand up as they pan films because they don't uphold biblical values. I have seen too many websites that tell God fearing Christians that they will be on an express bus to hell if they see a film, particularly Brokeback Mountain, and have admittingly developed a quick reaction to such sites. However, Screen It! doesn't seem to be one of them.

The website profiles films and lists points of concern that parents may have about a film for their children. While I find the lengths they go to a little frightening (more because who has enough time on their hands to figure out how many times "ass" is said in a film) their overall approach to the film seems to be fair. It even lists potential "talking points" for parents to be able to talk to their children about what is happening in the film.

I have long been an advocate of providing parents fair information about the media their children will potentially consume. If we are able to give parents the tools to investigate on their own, then we can stay away from censorship, which is never good. The only problem is, when certain groups gain total control over the bodies that decide ratings, warning labels, etc. they can bring with them an agenda that skews their warnings. It is commonly know that gay content will always receive higher rating warnings than similar or even more tame straight content. Male nudity treated differently from female nudity and such.

In a web world of CleanFlicks (which was recently shut down go us!) and Christian Spotlight on Entertainment it is refreshing to see a site that gives parents tools not answers to their media choices.

Monday, October 02, 2006

The Privileged Lens: An Examination of the Male Gaze in Cinema

Through the darkness images flicker to life on the screen and the magical porthole of the cinema opens us to another world. Like patrons of Edison’s Kinetoscope, we gaze upon the actions of others as images form to create the illusion of movement, the illusion of reality. The lens acts as more than a porthole, it is a barrier that forever separates us, the audience, from them, the subjects of our voyeuristic gaze. We are safe on this side of the screen for our anonymity ensures our privacy and we are free to look upon the others in any way we see fit. Those on the other side of the lens are there as a creation of the filmmaker and exist only for our pleasure, for us to have the opportunity to gaze up on them with our eye without the fear or guilt of the gaze being returned. What the camera shows us and how it does it form the basis for our cinematic gaze. The gaze can adhere to, or break down the typical mode of vision by reinforcing or opposing social constraints. Being able to recognize how the gaze drives our experience with any given film provides an insight not only into the deeper meaning of the film but of the culture of which it was created.

As with anything in cinema, the camera is neither objective nor neutral. It has an agenda and as Laura Mulvey would assert, a specific gender through which it views the world. In her description of her work Janet McCabe quotes Mulvey: “Unchallenged, mainstream film coded the erotic into the language of the dominant patriarchal order” McCabe continues “Patriarchy encodes a gender imbalance within ways of seeing, in which ‘the pleasure looking has bee divided into active/male and passive/female” (29). This division between the masculine and feminine of film manifests itself in a number of ways. First is the notion of how a story is told, and by whom. Most of the time in mainstream Hollywood cinema, the central hero is male and the women in the film are there merely to serve the advancement of the male character. That is not to say that all female characters lack development, but that their existence is not central to the advancement of the story. A filmmaker conscious of the gender division in passive and active characters can create a film, which treats women heroes with the same diligence of their male counterparts.

Such is the case with Sanaa Hamri’s Something New (2006) where the central character of the film is not a man, but Kenya McQueen (Sanaa Lahtan) a driven woman of color. Kenya occupies the space of the film that would typically be reserved for a male protagonist. She is an attractive business executive on the fast track to great success in her accounting firm. Through the film we follow the development of a romance between Kenya and Brian (Simon Baker) her white, middle class landscaper. Naturally gender isn’t the only conflict at play as they explore their relationship. They have to deal with differences in race, class, education and other issues before they can finally embrace one another and the idea of love. The camera’s gaze follows Kenya as the romance blossoms and we are privileged to her visions, her sexual desire and not Brian’s, which goes against the standard male centered mode of vision and threatens the patriarchal framework.

The patriarchal structure of the film is further threatened with Kenya’s parents Joyce (Alfre Woodard) and Edmond (Earl Billings) where Joyce seems to be the dominating figure in their household, not her doctor husband. Ultimately, Kenya’s father does step in and provide her with the inspiration to move beyond her differences with Brian and embrace their love; a move that sets off a reverse Cinderella sequence in which Kenya runs from the Cotillion climbs into her borrowed chariot and goes searching for her “Prince Charming.” When she finds him, she dresses him and returns him to the ball, completing the active/passive gender role reversal.

The male centered gaze has implications beyond gender roles in the narrative structure of the film. Carried out to its full extent, the male centered gaze can create serious problems with the depiction and objectification of its subjects. McCabe writes: “The active and curious (male) gaze translates the (female) image into the object of sexual fantasy, so granting the voyeur a position defined by control and mastery with its implied separation from the source of erotic stimulation” (29). The camera’s gaze can reinforce and create the societal expectations of beauty and sexuality expected of women in film. In the opening sequence of Lovely & Amazing (Nicole Holofcener, 2001) we see Elizabeth (Emily Mortimer) posing for photographs. The male photographer’s voice is a disembodied God like voice telling her how to pose for his camera. She expresses her discomfort with the shoot stating that she doesn’t fell like herself; to which the photographer replies coldly “who does?”. Elizabeth is exposed physically and emotionally in front of the camera as an object of the male gaze with the flash of his camera continuing even when she has clearly stopped posing.

Elizabeth’s profession as an actor is critical to how her character embodies the unrealistic expectations of the idealized male gaze. Her chosen career depends on her ability to hold the male gaze, something which she is apparently not able to do when she is denied a role acting opposite of hunky male star Kevin McCabe (Dermot Mulroney) because she didn’t meet the physical requirements of the part. This rejection calls into question her beauty in a crisis of self-image that culminates in her asking Kevin to catalogue her faults. This scene does two things. First, the man with whom she has just had sex confirms her insecurities about her beauty created by the criteria of the male gaze. Second, it allows Kevin the rare opportunity to bypass the lens and affix his gaze upon her in first person. He takes her piece by piece and describes how she essentially doesn’t fit the fetishised ideal of beauty. Holofcener works the presence and the negative impact of the male gaze into her film while she simultaneously defies the patriarchal structure by creating a story in which all the active characters that drive the story are women.

Jane Campion takes both the patriarchal and male gaze even further in her thriller In the Cut (2003) when she takes on a male dominated genre and subject matter and turns it to the woman’s story. Her film deals with several of the complexities in gender and film but most specifically, sex. Like both Hamri and Holofcener’s films, Campion does not present a single tracked film which seeks to only subvert one aspect of the male dominated cinema. Through her central character Frannie (Meg Ryan), Campion is able to explore intense sexual material without hanging the entire films narrative on the exposures. When she stumbles upon the sexual act in the basement of the bar, she is compelled to stay and watch the sexual act unfold before her. The camera flashes to details in both the man and the woman and we but we are still only left with glimpses of their identities.

In his review of the film Douglas Park writes: “Her moment of fascinated sexual gazing at Rodriguez [Nick Damici] /Malloy [Mark Ruffalo] receiving fellatio-inverting the cinematic male gaze-triggers her involvement with Malloy”. Campion also works with the concept of the male gaze in how she uses selective focus and objects to obscure the camera’s view. During her masturbation scene, Frannie fantasizes about being watched by Malloy but when it comes to being exposed to the camera, her nudity is obscured by blurred focus. The audience is denied what her fantasy is allowed, the image of her nude body. Later, when we are allowed to see her nude body, it isn’t an event of fetishistic voyeurism, but a natural state of nudity shared by Malloy who lies in bed, as exposed as she is. The gaze even plays into the slang of the films title itself. Ultimately, the male gaze is punished when trapped with the murderer (Rodriguez) is confronted and killed by it’s subject Fannie.

In their own way, each of the films described here challenge the concept of male centered cinema. Whether challenging the active/male passive/female narrative drive, the patriarchal structure or the fetishising male gaze, these films provide another porthole through which we can see the cinematic world. Filmmakers can either reinforce or subvert the gender roles in the cinema and even the culture as a whole. The cinema can be a way to learn about each other as people but we must realize that the way in which images are captured, where they turn our attention, can have significant negative impacts as well. The challenges of lens perspective aren’t limited to gender. It can also create gazes defined by class, sexual orientation, race as well as colonial views. The power to transport us to other locations, times and realities is power behind cinema but the possible consequences of how we view those worlds holds the potential for instablility.

Works Cited
McCabe, Janet. Feminist Film Studies, Writing the Woman Into Cinema. Wallflower Press, London. 2004.

Films Referenced

In The Cut (Jane Campion, 2003)
Lovely & Amazing (Nicole Holofcener, 2001)
Something New (Sanaa Hamri, 2006)