Sunday, April 12, 2020

Women Make Film 1: Introductions, Openings, Tone

From the Introduction. A byahme mladi / А бяхме млади / We Were Young / Binka Zhelyazkova, BG 1961. Screenshot from the Women Make Film website.

From Chapter 1: Openings. The Black Dog / Alison de Vere, GB 1987. Screenshot from the Women Make Film website.

From Chapter 2: Tone. A New Leaf / Kun mies on mies / Elaine May, US 1971. Screenshot from the Women Make Film website.

Women Make Film. A New Road Movie Through Cinema
Women Make Film. Uusi matka elokuvaan

GB © 2019 How To Make A Movie Ltd. PC: Hopscotch Films. P: John Archer. EX: Clara Glynn, Tilda Swinton. Assistant P: Sonali Choudhury. Associate P: Carl Beauchamp, Catherine Glynn Benkaim, Barbara Timmer.
    D+SC: Mark Cousins. Sound mixing: Diane Jardine. S: Joe Harfield. ED+script consultant: Timo Langer. Online: Chas Chalmers. Edit assistant: Scott Bilsbrough. P coordinator: Mhairi Valentine. P team: David Brown, Rowan Ings, Raja Kryda. World Sales: Dogwoof. Head of sales: Ana Vicente. Legal: David Burgess – excellent screenshots from each of the 1000 clips.
    14 hours
    Festival premiere: 1 Sep 2018 Venice Film Festival
    Finnish telepremieres of the 14 episodes: 3.3.2020, 10.3.2020, 17.3.2020, 24.3.2020, 1.4.2020, 8.4.2020, 15.4.2020
    Corona lockdown viewings.
    Yle Areena.
    Viewed on a 4K tv set at home in Helsinki, 12 April 2020.

Official synopsis: "The epic, four years in the making, still in production, is made up of forty “chapters” to be narrated by Tilda Swinton, Jane Fonda and other key women in cinema, still to be announced. Women Make Film: A New Road Movie Through Cinema follows in the footsteps of Mark Cousins’ The Story of Film: An Odyssey, to give us a guided tour of the art and craft of the movies. Using almost a thousand film extracts from thirteen decades and five continents, Cousins asks how films are made, shot and edited; how stories are shaped and how movies depict life, love, politics, humour and death, all through the compelling lens of some of the world’s greatest directors – all of them women."

Episode 1/14: Introductions, Tone
Jakso 1/14: Aloitus ja tunnelma
Narrator: Tilda Swinton
Finnish / Swedish subtitles: Tiina Kähkönen / Sari Östman


A byahme mladi / А бяхме млади / We Were Young / Binka Zhelyazkova, BG 1961 [unreleased in Finland]
Ty i ya / Ты и я / You and Me / Sinä ja minä / Larisa Shepitko, SU 1971
On the 12th Day of Christmas / Wendy Toye, GB 1955 [unreleased in Finland]
Korotkie vstrechi / Короткие встречи / Brief Encounters / Lyhyitä kohtaamisia / Kira Muratova, SU 1968

Chapter 1. Openings

Dongfang hong / 东方红 / 東方紅 / The East is Red / Wang Ping, CN 1965
First Comes Courage / Dorothy Arzner, US 1943 [unreleased in Finland]
Samt el qusur / صمت القصور  / The Silence of the Palaces / Palatsin hiljaisuus / Moufida Tlatli, TN 1994
Strange Days / Strange Days / Kathryn Bigelow, US 1995
Harlan County U.S.A. / Harlan County U.S.A. / Barbara Kopple, US 1976
Innocence / Viattomuus / Lucile Hadžihalilović, FR 2004
L'Avenir / Things To Come / Tämän jälkeen / Mia Hansen-Løve, FR 2016
Je tu il elle / Chantal Akerman, FR/BG 1974
All For Mary / Wendy Toye, GB 1955 [unreleased in Finland]
Sweetie / Jane Campion, AU 1989
Thumbelina / Peukaloinen / Lotte Reiniger, GB 1954
Le Bonheur / Onnen hetket / Agnès Varda, FR 1965
Faunovo velmi pozdní odpoledne / The Very Late Afternoon of a Faun / Faunin iltapäivä / Věra Chytilová, CZ 1983
The Black Dog / Alison de Vere, GB 1987
Melancholian 3 huonetta / The 3 Rooms of Melancholia / Pirjo Honkasalo, FI/DK/DE/SE 2004
Roozi ke zan shodam / روزی که زن شدم / The Day I Became A Woman / Marziyeh Meshkini, IR 2000
Takhté siah / تخته سیاه  / Blackboards / Liitutaulut / Samira Makhmalbaf, IR/IT/JP 2000
Attenberg / Athina Rachel Tsangari, GR 2010 [unreleased in Finland]
Mein Stern / Be My Star / Valeska Grisebach, DE 2001 [unreleased in Finland]
Die Besucherin / The Visitor / Lola Randl, DE 2008 [unreleased in Finland]
Pora umierać / A Time to Die / Dorota Kędzierzawska, PL 2007 [unreleased in Finland]
Butter on the Latch / Josephine Decker, US 2013 [unreleased in Finland]
Ostatni etap / The Last Stage / Ken tästä käy / Wanda Jakubowska, PL 1947
La ciénaga / Kuuma suo / Lucrecia Martel, AR/FR/ES/JP 2001

Chapter 2. Tone

Merrily We Go to Hell / Dorothy Arzner, US 1932 [unreleased in Finland]
Wanda / Barbara Loden, US 1970 [unreleased in Finland]
Pet Sematary / Uinu, uinu lemmikkini / Mary Lambert, US 1989
Tank Girl / Tank Girl / Rachel Talalay, US 1995
On the 12th Day of Christmas / Wendy Toye, GB 1955 [unreleased in Finland]
By the Sea / Meren äärellä / Angelina Jolie, US 2015
Peel / Jane Campion, AU 1982
Beau travail / Claire Denis, FR 1999 [unreleased in Finland]
Olivia / Jacqueline Audry, FR 1951 [unreleased in Finland]
Mädchen in Uniform / Murrosiässä / Leontine Sagan, DE 1931
Dva v odnom / Два в одному / Two in One / Kira Muratova, UA-RU 2007 [unreleased in Finland]
American Psycho / Amerikan psyko / Mary Harron, US 2000
A New Leaf / Kun mies on mies / Elaine May, US 1971
Betoniyö / Concrete Night / Pirjo Honkasalo, FI/SE/DK 2013

AA: A thousand excerpts from films directed by women, arranged not chronologically but thematically, making this a discourse of the art of cinema covering almost its entire 125-year old history (Alice Guy started in 1896).

Who else could pull this off than Mark Cousins whose scope is comprehensive both historically and globally – Women Make Film is also a film atlas taking us to all continents and many film cultures that have not entered into the Western awareness as prominently as they deserve.

It's a playful compilation, based on many criteria, but the main one is artistic / poetic. The isolated moment cannot do justice to an entire work of art, but it can have independent value, as we can experience here. Even screenshots have been selected with great taste as can be seen on the Women Make Film website.

For a film archive programmer this is familiar ground. "Women Make Film" style programming has been prominent in cinematheques over the years. But I guess for all of us Mark Cousins offers many new discoveries.

When I started at the Finnish Film Archive in 1985 the first season in which I worked full time boasted a retrospective called "Women at the Helm". It was the last season signed by Peter von Bagh; I contributed and wrote the programme text. 27 films by women film directors were programmed.

The 1980s in Finland were the first decade in which there were many women with careers as film directors. Pirjo Honkasalo (prominent in Mark's anthology) was the first Finnish woman with a regular career as a film director. Others active in the 1980s included Eija-Elina Bergholm, Kanerva Cederström, Ingemo Engström, Päivi Hartzell, Liisa Helminen, Katariina Lillqvist, Taru Mäkelä, Riitta Nelimarkka, Tuija-Maija Niskanen, Marja Pensala, Kaisa Rastimo, Riitta Rautoma, Antonia Ringbom and Raili Rusto.

Already in 1985 we heard from them that "we are not women film directors" but film directors, period. Yet in the year 2020 we are still in a period of transition. The slogan 5050 2020 was being promoted as a motto for this year. The Finnish Film Foundation has achieved it. Of course the corona pandemic is now pulling the rug under everybody.

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