Three legendary female experimental filmmakers you should watch

Feb. 9, 2018

How many female filmmakers do you know? And how many of them make experimental cinema? Guidedoc shows you only three examples of irreverent cinema made by essential female filmmakers.

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Maya Deren (Ukraine - United States)



Known as the forerunner of what she would call "intimate cinema", those works that prefer to inhabit the small rooms of universities and museums, Maya Deren is a must for any filmmaker interested in experimental cinema. Her influences could be summarized in three wings: dance, psychoanalysis and the film camera as a means of plastic expression. A majestic example of these influences is her short film "Meshes of the Afternoon", one of the most memorable oneiric representations in film history. Premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, the short film follows a woman - played by Deren herself - in her attempt to reach an enigmatic figure dressed in black through various dream states. The handling of time, the change of the point of view and the recurrence of symbols from everyday objects to suggest meanings are only some features of her remarkable cinematography.


Maria Lassnig (Austria)



Mostly known for her pictorial work, Maria Lassnig is also a precursor of animation cinema in her native Austria. In her explorations on the canvas, she developed the influential theory of "Body Awareness". In fact, a feature of Lassnig's work is the use of the physical presence of herself within the frame, such as her recurring self-portraits and the performative practices she did in her films. For example, in "Kantate", filmed in 1992, the artist appears on the screen singing and presenting with dances and gestures the story of her own life illustrated in animations that are shown in the background. The ironic tone, full of humor and wit is something characteristic in her work but also in her personality. In January of this year, the MOMA presents the premiere of a series of experimental films recently discovered and restored that were filmed by Lassnig during her stay in New York in the seventies.


Shantal Akerman (Belgium)



Among the many memorable phrases we read about the suicide of Chantal Akerman in 2015, the idea that the loneliness of the precursor of feminist cinema was always abated by cinema reminds us that films can become family in the eyes of those who live for them. The melancholic portraits of the New York of the early seventies serve in "News From Home" as a background to the reading of the letters that her mother sent her from Belgium while she studied filmmaking in America. These first explorations into everyday quotidian images allowed her to work with the idea of uprooting ​​not only in a domestic or geographical sense, but rather to express her displacement from social standards, especially with the role assigned by the stablishment to the female figure. Other atmospheric inquiries and temporary sensations through the use of long duration shots we notice in "Hotel Monterey", a ghostly portrait of a days inn in New York City.


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