So where do you go from here? Where do I go? And where does a committed woman writer go? Finding a voice, searching for words and sentences: say something, one thing or no thing; tie/untie, read/unread, discard their forms; scrutinize the grammatical habits of your writing, and decide for yourself whether they free or repress. Shake syntax, smash the myths and, if you lose, slide on, UNEARTH some new linguistic paths. Do you surprise? Do you shock? Do you have a choice?
‘Isn’t it wonderful that you’ve had such a great career, when you had no right to have a career at all?’— Telegram from Katherine Hepburn read out during the Director’s Guild of America tribute to Dorothy Arzner, 1975
Currently trying to prioritise watching more films directed by women and consequently will be adding to this as I watch more. 1 film per director.
Falling Leaves (dir. Alice Guy-Blaché, 1912)
Suspense (dir. Lois Weber, 1913)
The Smiling Madam Beudet (dir. Germaine Dulac, 1922)
The Adventures of Prince Achmed (dir. Lotte Reiniger, 1926)
Fieldwork Footage (dir. Zora Neale Hurston, 1928)
Merrily We Go to Hell (dir. Dorothy Arzner, 1932)
Meshes of the Afternoon (dir. Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid, 1943)
Introspection (dir. Sara Kathryn Arledge, 1946)
Begone Dull Care (dir. Evelyn Lambart and Norman McLaren, 1949)
Love Letter (dir. Kinuyo Tanaka, 1953)
A Portrait of Ga (dir. Margaret Tait, 1955)
Cléo from 5 to 7 (dir. Agnès Varda, 1962)
The House is Black (dir. Forough Farrokhzad, 1963)
Bad Girls Go to Hell (dir. Doris Wishman, 1965)
Daisies (dir. Věra Chytilová, 1966)
Lights (dir. Marie Menken, 1966)
Fuses (dir. Carolee Schneemann, 1967)
Reason Over Passion (dir. Joyce Wieland, 1969)
The Student Nurses (dir. Stephanie Rothman, 1970)
Wanda (dir. Barbara Loden, 1970)
Kaldalon (dir. Dore O, 1971)
The Other Side of the Underneath (dir. Jane Arden, 1972)
Sambizanga (dir. Sarah Maldoror, 1972)
Love and Anarchy (dir. Lina Wertmüller, 1973)
Messiah of Evil (dir. Gloria Katz and Willard Huyck, 1973)
Dyketactics (dir. Barbara Hammer, 1974)
Film About a Woman Who… (dir. Yvonne Rainer, 1974)
Who are a few of your favorite authors who inspire you?
Bhanu Kapil is my first and foremost, always. I love the poet Ai. Aracelis Girmay was both a very important mentor in my life, as well as one of my favorite poets. Her “Noche de Lluvia, San Salvador” is one of my deepest inspirations and came to me in a very important moment on the back of a metro card in NYC. Anne Waldman is also one of my recent favorites. Eduardo C. Corral, Latasha N. Nevada Diggs, Gloria Anzalduá — the poetics as well as the politics of these poets are what I align with. I love Arundhati Roy. Her The Cost of Living changed my live at a wine bar in downtown Portland. I was halfway through The God of Small Things when it got caught in an overnight rain and I haven’t opened it up since, its pages all bloated and warped. I’ll get to it, though. Danez Smith is literally an angel. Michael Ondaatje is a long-time favorite. If you’re going to read anything by him, get Secular Love. I wrote a 15 page paper about him in high school that I’ll post at some point. I found it last night and it is a really well-written piece. Another favorite — Banana Yoshimoto. Her Kitchen — in the first paragraph is one of my favorite sentences from a book: “White tile catching the light (ting! ting!).” I love Gary Soto’s poetry. bell hooks’ All About Love is really important. Audre Lorde’s Sister Outsider is also really, really important. Here’s her essay “Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power.” I love e.e. cummings. I love the poetics of Trinh T. Minh-Ha. I love Ocean Vuong and Li-Young Lee. I love Natalie Diaz. I love Tsering Wangmo Dhompa, a Tibetan poet. love The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston, and anything — prose, poetry, novel — by Anne Michaels. Toni Morrison changed language forever. Reading all of Proust’s In Search of Lost Time had a huge impact on my way of thinking, in delineating my idea of memory. Gabriel García Marquez — his Love in the Time of Cholera and One Hundred Years of Solitude. I can’t believe that I forgot A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit. That book is also very very important. So was Diane Ackerman’s A Natural History of the Senses — it’s a very voluptuous, sensuous book of essay about the senses. I know I’m forgetting something but here it is for now.
The socially oriented filmmaker is thus the almighty voice-giver (here, in a vocalizing context that is all-male), whose position of authority in the production of meaning continues to go unchallenged, skillfully masked as it is by its righteous mission. The relationship between mediator and medium, or the mediating activity, is either ignored-that is, assumed to be transparent, as valuefree and as insentient as an instrument of reproduction ought to be-or else, it is treated most conveniently: by humanizing the gathering of evidence so as to further the status quo (“Of course, like all human beings I am subjective, but nonetheless, I have confidence in the evidence!”). Good documentaries are those whose subject matter is “correct” and whose point of view the viewer agrees with. What is involved may be a question of honesty (vis-a-vis the material), but it is often also a question of (ideological) adherence, hence of legitimization.
Professor Trinh teaches in the Gender and Women’s Studies Department at the University of California at Berkeley since 1994 and in the Department of Rhetoric since 1997. She has also taught at Harvard, Smith, Cornell, San Francisco State University, the University of Illinois, Ochanomizu University in Japan and the National Conservatory of Music in Senegal. Originally trained as a musical composer, who received her two Masters and Ph.D. from University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, Trinh T. Minh-ha is a world-renowned independent filmmaker and feminist, post-colonial theorist. She teaches courses that focuses on women’s work as related to cultural politics, post-coloniality, contemporary critical theory and the arts. The seminars she offers focus on Third cinema, film theory and aesthetics, the voice in cinema, the autobiographical voice, critical theory and research, cultural politics and feminist theory. Aside from the eight books she has published, her work also includes two large-scale multimedia installations and six feature-length films that have been honored in twenty seven retrospectives around the world: Reassemblage (1982), Naked Spaces (1985), Surname Viet Given Name Nam (1989), Shoot for the Contents (1991), A Tale of Love (1996), The Fourth Dimension (2001), and Night Passage (2004) .
would appreciate if you stopped blogging neocolonialist propaganda films such as Zero Dark Thirty and Hurt Locker. Thanks. :)
hi, i understand the sentiment but i’m not going to disregard films just because you or i don’t like them. i hold some similar opinions on bigelow’s recent military films too, but part of the purpose of this blog is to curate a vast array of movies and not forgo certain works. if there really was significant concern on neocolonialist propaganda in cinema, the complaint wouldn’t be isolated to kathryn bigelow’s recent works anyway, but many films posted here and elsewhere on tumblr would be cut wholesale as well. take for instance some films backed by pentagon financial assistance like iron man, goldeneye, man of steel, i am legend, war of the worlds, the silence of the lambs, indiana jones, etc. hollywood and its ties to the military and neocolonialist power structures are inevitable. i don’t want to hide that. i will however agree to posting more films and filmmakers from less privileged circumstances and more progressive standpoints to combat the problematic movies.
i hope i’ve been somewhat unambiguous in my support for women filmmakers resisting imperialist, patriarchal systems elsewhere on this blog at least. for every hurt locker or zero dark thirty, i hope to have at least offered trinh t. minh-ha, mira nair, samira makhmalbaf, lina makboul, claire denis, etc.