In the 21st century in the film industry sexism is becoming a thing of the past. Each year more and more women leave their mark as filmmakers, world film festivals seek out works by female directors for their programs. Women’s cinema is a world phenomenon, a subject of critical and scientific studies, a media topic. Women in Europe and Asia, USA and Russia have not as yet attained dominant positions in the mainstream, but they have firmly secured a place for themselves in art films, art house cinema and art mainstream, so probably in a short time we will be watching various “female blockbusters”. In any case American women filmmakers are actively discussing it on the Internet.
The strengthening of women’s positions in various film professions including film directing has been brought about not merely by various stages in the feminist movement in various countries or the conscious gender-oriented cultural policy in a number of states, but also by the women’s amazing ability to quickly learn and become professional. It is no accident that statistical data for many Western countries indicates that the number of women with higher education and PhDs exceeds the corresponding figures for men. Women are actively setting up their organizations and institutions, promote films at festivals and in other forms of distribution. They may resort to media uproars, blowing up the situation and achieving their goals. We still vividly remember the uproar at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival when women got together and promptly put forward the demand that the leading festival should select their works for competition. This year’s programs of such festivals as the Sundance, Rotterdam, Gothenburg, Berlinal, Cannes provide the evidence that their selectors have advanced in the study of Women’s Cinema.
Films by women directors introduce new sentimentality, construct different subjects and objects of scrutiny in the rapidly changing social milieu, which do not resemble those of the male-dominated cinema of the 20th century. Women force us to take a different look at women and men on the screen; instead of mythologizing and poeticizing the reality or the subject, they adopt a critical and stereoscopic approach. Women love nuances and details which often add together to form a stereoscopic image of the subject. They seem to keep in mind that cinema is not merely entertainment, performance or a philosophical and political message, it is also the study of a human being and his milieu, an instrument if psychological and social therapy. Films by women directors which often tackle family problems and offer in-depth studies of sexuality, seem to remind us about humanism at the time of the triumph of post-humanism and in so doing permit to preserve the balance in our understanding of man, society, the world. Women’s Cinema does not so much advocate an imperial gaze to society in which they live and work, but rather it promotes a multitude of cosmopolitan gaze creating a common dream about an open society without hard and fast borders which opposes violence as well as vertical power structures. At the time of global media and transnational cinema this qualitative approach is absolutely logical because it naturally follows from their inherent idea of an open society.
For the second year running the Moscow International Film Festival includes films by women directors as a separate program, thus showing support for the success of women in world cinema. This year’s program is called “The Time of Women” which resonates with the evident gender changes in world cinema and in our country, where female directors are – sadly – not as yet so well institutionalized as they are in, say, the USA with the actively functioning organizations like “Film Fatales”, “Alliance of Women Directors”, “Women in Film” and others, but nevertheless they are making themselves heard. The program “The Time of Women” stresses the US experience and includes several movies from that country with the aim of showing how in a country of post-feminism the skills of self-organizing and cooperating with each other, of using new media to promote one’s work lead to growing professionalism and give a chance to go on working in the global and very competitive world of contemporary media and film. The experience of American ladies who have long ago managed to turn the festivals in Sundance, New York, Tribeca, Seattle their favorite venues for premiere screenings as well as for women directors from other countries can be very useful for our female filmmakers who are so far represented mostly at “Kinotavr”, as well as for the Russian viewers eager to learn about new tendencies in world cinema. The program “The Time of Women” is the time to watch movies in a new way.
curator of the program