Women’s Cinema, World Cinema: Projecting Contemporary Feminisms
Patricia White is Professor of Film and Media Studies at Swarthmore College. She is the author of Uninvited: Classical Hollywood Cinema and Lesbian Representability, coauthor of The Film Experience, and coeditor of Critical Visions in Film Theory. She has worked extensively with Women Make Movies and the journal Camera Obscura: Feminism, Culture, and Media Studies.
Framing Feminisms: Women’s Cinema as Art Cinema
This chapter argues that women’s films about other cultures are marketed in North America as humanist fables and that art house exhibition functions as a middle-brow and arguably feminized taste culture. It takes as case studies prominent women directors whose diasporic visions of “home” solicit viewers’ nostalgia, identification, or projection. Deepa Mehta’s Water (2005) highlights how feminist and “foreign” films are framed for the art house circuit. The promotion of Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud’s Persepolis (2007) plays into Western stereotypes of Iran, while the film’s humor and style undermine them. Persepolis marks its physical distance from Iran through animation; Shirin Neshat’s Women without Men (2010) does so through stylization. All are examples of what Hamid Naficy calls “accented cinema.” This chapter considers the role of diasporan women filmmakers in facilitating the definition and circulation of art cinema in the United States and defining contemporary women’s cinema in multicultural terms.