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WOMEN, FILM CULTURE, AND GLOBALIZATION CONFERENCE: DAY 3

The conference’s last day revolved around themes of global circuits and markets of women’s and LGBT cinema, with the conference’s closing keynote by Skadi Loist, from the University of Rostock. Sunday’s first panel, moderated by Yuriko Furuhata, discussed “Modes and Practices within Global Women’s Cinema.” In her aptly titled presentation, ‘Female Consciousness, Experimental Style and the Reconfiguration of the Social in 1980s Chinese Women’s Cinema: Zhang Nuanxin and Sacrifice of Youth (1985),’ Lingzhen Wang from Brown University showcased the work of female-oriented experimental cinema against the new social paradigms of Chinese culture in the 1980s, particularly when confronting its past, such as the Cultural Revolution. Sangita Gopal, of the University of Oregon, next presented ‘In Her Image: Indian Feminism and the New Wave cinema,’ which traced the representational changes of woman as victim to woman as subject in Indian New Wave. Such a change in representation taking place within the context of India’s accelerating urbanization, modernization, and industrialization, all from the point of view of women alone.

Kathleen Vernon, from Stony Brook University, New York, highlighted comedy’s attack on structures of hierarchy, particularly patriarchy, when performed by women, in ‘Funny Voices: Gender and Subversion in Global Women’s Film Comedy.’ For Vernon, the female comedian is antithetical to perceived roles of grace, beauty or femininity, and through the use of excess, facial expression, intonation, and body language, she is able to counter essentialist notions of womanhood. By deliberately being aggressive, not passive, she challenges how subaltern voices, never meant to be heard, are perceived as loud regardless of their actual decibel level. This, she argues, is evident not only in gender relations, but within socioeconomic ones as well. In this sense, the use of domestic service employees, or maids in comedy, Vernon argues, becomes distinctively subversive. Concluding the panel was Jane M. Gaines, from Columbia University, and her presentation, ‘Silent Era Women: Even More Global Than We Thought.’ Using a historiographical methodology, Gaines presented her project for the recovery, revision, restoration and rectification of women’s place within the history of cinema’s silent era, and to restitute them for their enforced absence. Using empirical data tracing patterns of transcontinental migration by female practitioners, the forgotten influence of women during the early days of cinema becomes apparent, according to the Columbia professor.

Moderated by Ezra Winton from Concordia University, the second panel, “Women, Gender, and Film Festivals,” began with Melis Behlil from Kadir Has University, Istanbul, and her presentation, ‘Film Festivals as a Site of Resistance.’ Discussing the aftermath of governmental censorship of the film “North,” which included the withdrawal of jury and directors from the 2015 Istanbul Film Festival in a show of solidarity, Behlil showed the emergence of alternative festivals which do not adhere to, or explicitly refuse, governmental approval of their screenings, particularly for Turkish-produced cinema. From Concordia University, Antoine Damiens’ ‘Cineffable’s Invisible Labour: Translation, Transition, Cooperation’ showed how DIY translation techniques used by LGBT festivals, such as Paris’ Cineffable, are emblematic of cooperation and solidarity building within the LGBT movement, whilst also making the act of translation itself visible, and foregrounding the “Frenchness” of the labourers. Concluding the panel was the conference’s director, Rosanna Maule of Concordia, with ‘Women’s Cinema and Professional Organizations,’ which highlighted the work of female cinematic collectives, and their organization of workshops with a distinct emphasis on female cinematic autonomy. Such autonomy ranges from production practices to archival work, particularly in Germany. The conference proceeded with its homage to the late Belgian auteur, Chantal Akerman, with a screening of her hyperrealist piece “D’Est,” which was introduced by Maule.

Concluding the day and conference was Skadi Loist’s closing keynote, ‘Travelling the Circuit(s): Women’s and Queer Cinema at Film Festivals,’ which presented empirical data as to the state of participation and inclusion of women and queer directors in top-tier and underground festivals across the globe. Kay Dickinson from Concordia University further contributed to the discussion by elaborating on how neoliberal policies affect the participation and inclusion of such filmmakers’ work, and the festivals’ dependency on free affective labour, of which women represent the majority, whilst continuing to represent a minority in the exhibited works. The closing evening’s focus then shifted to the practice of filmmaking at a local level with a ‘Roundtable on Women and Film Culture in Québec,’ which included female directors, researchers, and curators who discussed the state of female work, production, and exhibition in la belle province.

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