Looking Across the Lens
As one of the most powerful media for imagining gender, film has been a source of inspiring icons, constraining clichés, and new models of the future for women. This collection explores the intense dialogue that has emerged as women have looked harder at how film effects them—and how they can affect film.
Beginning with a reassessment of film theory from the perspectives of women's studies (Tania Modleski), feminist and postcolonial theory (Corinn Columpar), and race (Janell Hobson), the issue lays the groundwork for new approaches to film's treatment of women. Surprising results follow in essays that find pop culture feminism in The Stepford Wives and Girls Town, trace the interplay of gender and (dis)ability in The Sweet Hereafter, and identify Whoopi Goldberg in Boys on the Side as the "lesbian mammy."
Interviews with women filmmakers including Susan Stern (Barbie Nation), María Navaro (Danzón), and Renee Tajima-Peña (Who Killed Vincent Chin?) take us behind the scenes of film production, and essays on the work of directors Julie Dash, Yvonne Rainer, Brigitte Roüan, of France, and Tracey Moffet of Australia show women putting film to radical new uses.
The political possibilities of film come to the fore in a piece from Women Make Movies, the New York City-based distributor that offered films on Islam and the Arab world free of charge following September 11. Rounded out with strategies and resources for teaching film and women's studies, this special issue shows women challenging the power of film as they look across the lens in both directions, as creators and viewers.