Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Women Make Film 9: Politics, Gear Change, Comedy

From Chapter 23: Politics: Tomka dhe shokët e ti / Tomka and His Friends /  Xhanfize Keko, Albania 1977. Screenshot from the Women Make Film website.

From Chapter 24: Gear Change: Orlando / Sally Potter, GB 1992. Screenshot from the Women Make Film website.

From Chapter 25: Comedy: Ciało / Body / Małgorzata Szumowska, Poland 2015. 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.
    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, 22.4.2020, 29.4.2020, 6.5.2020, 13.5.2020, 20.5.2020, 27.5.2020, 3.6.2020

Episode 9/14: Politics, Gear Change, Comedy
Jakso 9/14: Politiikasta komiikkaan
Narrators: Kerry Fox, Sharmila Tagore
Finnish / Swedish subtitles: Tiina Kähkönen / Sari Östman

Chapter 23. Politics

Zacharovannaya Desna / Зачарованная Десна / The Enchanted Desna / Lumottu Desna / Yuliya Sointseva, SU 1964
Dans ma peau / In My Skin / Marina de Van, FR 2002 [unreleased in Finland]
Padenie dinastii Romanovykh / Падение династии Романовых / The Fall of the Romanov Dynasty / Romanovien dynastian tuho / Esfir Shub, SU 1927
Triumph des Willens / The Triumph of the Will / Leni Riefenstahl, DE 1935 [unreleased in Finland]
Bhaji on the Beach / Gurinder Chadha, GB 1993 [unreleased in Finland]
Digeh che khabar? / !دیگه چه خبر؟ / What Else is New? / Tahmineh Milani, IR 1992
El premio / The Prize / Paula Markovitch, MX/FR/PL/DE 2011 [unreleased in Finland]
Tomka dhe shokët e ti / Tomka and His Friends /  Xhanfize Keko, AL 1977 [unreleased in Finland]
Melodiya dlya katerniki / Мелодія для катеринки / Melodiya dlya sharmanki / Melody for a Street Organ / Kira Muratova, UA 2009 [unreleased in Finland]
Divorce Iranian Style / Kim Longinotto, Ziba Mir-Hosseini, dok, IR/GB 1998 [unreleased in Finland]
Drowned Out / Franny Armstrong, dok, GB 2002 [unreleased in Finland]
Strange Days / Strange Days / Kathryn Bigelow, US 1995
Koibumi / 恋文 / Love Letter / Kinuyo Tanaka, JP 1953 [unreleased in Finland]
Cuba, une odyssée africaine / Cuba: An African Odyssey / Kuuba! Afrikka! Vallankumous! / Jihan El-Tahri, dok, FR 2007
Finsterworld / Frauke Finsterwalder, DE 2013 [unreleased in Finland]
Nimeh-ye penhan / نيمه پنهان / The Hidden Half / [Finnish release with English title] The Hidden Half / Tahmineh Milani, IR 2001

Chapter 24. Gear Change

Selma / Selma / Ava DuVernay, GB/US 2014
Bande de filles / Girlhood / Céline Sciamma, FR 2015 [unreleased in Finland]
Orlando / Orlando / Sally Potter, GB/RU/IT/FR/NL 1992
Milarepa / Liliana Cavani, IT 1974 [unreleased in Finland]
Astenicheski sindrom / Астенический синдром / The Asthenic Syndrome / Asteeninen oire / Kira Muratova, SU 1990
The Connection / Shirley Clarke, US 1961 [unreleased in Finland]

Chapter 25. Comedy

Jumpin' Jack Flash / Jumpin' Jack Flash / Penny Marshall, US 1986
Big / Big – isoksi yhdessä yössä / Penny Marshall, US 1988
I've Heard the Mermaids Singing / Merenneitojen laulu / Patricia Rozema, CA 1987
Appropriate Behaviour / Desiree Akhavan, GB 2014 [unreleased in Finland]
The Trouble with Angels / Harmia enkeleistä / Ida Lupino, US 1966
A New Leaf / Kun mies on mies / Elaine May, US 1971
The Heartbreak Kid / Sydäntenmurskaaja / Elaine May, US 1972
Obvious Child / Gillian Robespierre, US 2014 [unreleased in Finland]
But I'm a Cheerleader / Olen kunnon tyttö / Jamie Babbit, US 1999
Fjols til fjells / Fools in the Mountains / Edith Carlmar, NO 1957 [unreleased in Finland]
El camino / Ana Mariscal, ES 1963 [unreleased in Finland]
Wayne's World / Wayne's World / Penelope Spheeris, US 1992
Ciało / Body / Małgorzata Szumowska, PL 2015 [unreleased in Finland]
Marlina si Pembunuh dalam Empat Babak / Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts / Mouly Surya, ID/FR/MY/TH 2017 [unreleased in Finland]
Privarzaniyat balon / Привързаният балон / The Attached Balloon / Binka Zhelyazkova, BG 1967 [unreleased in Finland]

AA: In this episode Mark Cousins presents new marvellous samples from films both familiar and unfamiliar, directed by women. This is a series about women film directors, but I started to think that the theme "Women Make Film" is much larger. Ever since the star system started around the year 1910, star power has been the driving force of film-making usually much more than the power of the director. From Asta Nielsen to the present day, the most powerful women in the film industry have been film stars, and also, at least since the 1960s, also pop stars. Barbra Streisand, Madonna, and Lady Gaga have been auteurs of today. In the silent period, Mary Pickford was one of the most influential people in the world.

As for editing, Mark Cousins has written illuminating pages about women editors elsewhere. From Anne Bauchens to Thelma Schoonmaker, they have been top of the game. And because Esfir Shub is represented in this episode, we remember that she was the mother of the montage film in the world, as Nicole Védrès was the mother of the postwar montage film and essay film, the model for Alain Resnais and Jean-Luc Godard.

The liberties Mark Cousins takes with his themes are bewildering. He makes a point of straying as far as possible from the conventional and the expected. I enjoy the digressions and the recherché samples. But the more obvious samples carry the thesis: juxtaposing Esfir Shub and Leni Riefenstahl, for example, in the chapter on Politics. Discoveries in this chapter include Tomka and His Friends by  Xhanfize Keko and Finsterworld by Frauke Finsterwalder, both with a sharp approach to Nazism.

The chapter on comedy... a certain sloppines creeps into the series, and this chapter fails colossally to pay tribute to the fantastic contribution of women in comedy. Which is because it only focuses on directors and not stars. Especially in comedy based on an established character of course the comic is the auteur. It suffices to mention Mae West.

Even from a director-driven viewpoint it could have been possible to mention Mabel Normand as one of the founders of the American slapstick comedy and a mentor of Charles Chaplin, among other things. There are many fine French comedy directors unmentioned here, such as Coline Serreau (3 hommes et un couffin). Of Americans, Amy Heckerling (Clueless) and Nora Ephron could have been alternatives to directors who have already been introduced in earlier chapters. Maybe they will emerge later. Many of the most prominent comedy directors in Finland are women, and I guess Finland is not the only country where it is so.

This episode is slightly slapdash, unfortunately, but still rewarding.

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