The curators of the section Lexicon: Female gaze, festival programmer Tomáš Hudák and the director of this year’s festival spot Ivana Hucíková, have focused on the status of women in cinema, their portrayal in film, and the uniqueness of a woman’s experience.
The topic also served as inspiration for the festival spot. The half-minute video is a montage of films directed mainly by women filmmakers. Their protagonists are women of different colour, appearance, age, and character in various life situations. In the background, we can hear the voice of the musician Katarzia, who’s asking: “Do you think we can’t change anything, because we’re just women?”, a lyric excerpt from the song Dolls Are Killing Each Other, found on her new album Antigona, on which Katarzia (Katarína Kubošiová) cooperated with Pjoni (Jonatán Pastirčák).
“The past year has been – not only in the cinema – the year of #MeToo, and that is part of why we’ve decided to reflect on the status of women in society and cinema. We have chosen the topic of female gaze as opposed to the male gaze, identified by the film theorist Laura Mulvey. In the section we give space to women authors, we try to bring attention to the female experience, which is – in film as well as the society – often overlooked, reflect on how women were and are depicted in film and remind that there is no such thing as male and female genres,” say the curators. “It is, however, not just about this one section. Five out of the eight films in the Fiction Competition have been shot by female directors and even other sections will present films disrupting the male gaze hegemony ”
One of these is a debut by the Cypriot director, screenwriter and producer Tonie Mishiali Pause (Pafsi, 2018). The story draws us into the monotonous life of a not so happily married Elpida (Greek for hope), a middle-aged woman living in a patriarchal, conservative-oriented society with a despotic husband. Beau travail (1999) is a work of the French director Claire Denis, inspired by Herman Melville’s novel Billy Budd, Sailor. The story centres around Sergeant Galoup, who is trying to destroy his subordinate Gilles Sentain. Through the main storyline, the director reveals her idea about the life of soldiers. The female gaze is amplified by Denis’ long-time director of photography Agnès Godard, presenting the images of male strength and beauty, but also their weakness. A sexist view of women and their depiction in film is reflected in Diego Galán’s documentary film Barefoot in the Kitchen (Con la pata quebrada, 2013). The Spanish director captures the often funny, but also tearfully stereotypical scenes from selected Spanish films made from 1930s up to now.