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Spiritually Significant Films from Female Directors


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3 hours ago, Andrew said:

If my response was a conversation-killer, I apologize.  That may have come out more forcefully than would've been ideal.

I didn't get that vibe personally; it felt like an informed and passionate response which provided a clear answer/direction. And including the Wachowskis on this list makes sense to me (at least The Matrix—I'm still trying to wrap my mind around the meaning or significance of Cloud Atlas).

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There's undoubtedly a "right and wrong side of history" to be on when broaching this topic, and that history is still far enough away from being settled that it seems next to impossible to enter it in such a way where strong and personal feelings aren't immediately invoked. 

In general I find myself agreeing with most of the content and certainly the spirit of Andrew's post, while simultaniously trying to suss out why it would feel so strange to see The Matrix pop up on a list like the one being discussed here. Perhaps it's because more people remember that film as a cultural touchstone directed by the Wachowski Brothers than would remember or even be aware of the fact that Lana and Lilly transitioned more recently, which would result in that film standing out and being confusing/controversial to such a degree that it would certainly overshadow and distract from every other film on the list. Can you imagine? It's not like anyone that would be interested in lists like this aren't already exhaustively familiar with The Matrix, so it's easy to anticipate the central talking point on its inclusion having far more to do with the method of its inclusion than with any qualities of the film itself. A statement for statement's sake?

I try to imagine a hypothetical where a forgotten reel of Carl Dreyer is discovered that reveals a suppressed and lifelong dissociation with being a male. Had the times he lived in been different, he may have had the courage and/or incentive to come out to the public as female. Upon receiving word of this reel, would we (or other list makers) decide that Dreyer's films are now eligible for and would likely place at the very top of this list of Spiritually Significant Films by Women? Perhaps, but at what point would it start to feel unnecessary to catagorize films by particularly gendered directors at all?

I think this is spinning off back to all the problems I find with catagorizing by auteur theory to begin with. While my personal experience in the film production industry mirrors what you might expect in the male/female ratio for *directors,* the majority of producers, casting directors, ADs, and screenwriters I know are female. Their influence on the content that is locally produced is greater than the influence of males, despite the fact that a male name more frequently takes the director's slot. 

Edited by Jeremy Ratzlaff
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3 hours ago, Jeremy Ratzlaff said:

while simultaniously trying to suss out why it would feel so strange to see The Matrix pop up on a list like the one being discussed here.

It probably feels so strange because we're all living through a massive shift in consciousness regarding gender fluidity. At least in my corner of the film world, the Wachowskis are only referred to as women named Lana and Lilly, so I assume including them on a list of women filmmakers would only cause controversy among conservative (in all senses of the word) audiences. I don't particulary care. But I know my stance on this question might be more firm than others'.

3 hours ago, Jeremy Ratzlaff said:

Perhaps, but at what point would it start to feel unnecessary to catagorize films by particularly gendered directors at all?

Whether a film should be categorized by the gender of its director is a legitimate question, as is the "auteur" issue, more generally. I believe it's important in 2020 to advocate for women filmmakers/artists/creators of all types because it will require collective action to set right an industry that has been out of balance for its entire existence.

Your hypothetical about Dreyer doesn't, to my mind, affect the larger question at all. If such a reel were discovered, it would generate a fascinating discussion among critics, historians, artists, scholars, and activists, and I suspect some consensus would gradually form. Once we reached consensus about how to gender Dreyer, it wouldn't be a sign that the gender question no longer matters. Just the opposite, I think. I know of at least one early-20th century artist who is referred to with non-binary pronouns based on some comments they left in their memoir. I imagine we'll see more of that in the coming years.

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25 minutes ago, Darren H said:

It probably feels so strange because we're all living through a massive shift in consciousness regarding gender fluidity.

Isn't that the truth?  I feel lucky in my own consciousness shift to have worked under a department chair who's an internationally-recognized expert on the psychology of transgender issues (he was a jerk in most ways, but some good came with the bad).  I've also been lucky to have a couple of generous, understanding transgender patients; as I've helped them, they were schooling me in pronouns and "doing unto others."  And I hope this won't be taken amiss, but I did find that my particular brand of church-going from the 80s and 90s was a hindrance in doing unto others; you know, the whole "God doesn't make mistakes in gender assignment" thing.  (While seeing no analogous theological difficulty with genetic disorders like Down Syndrome or Alzheimer's.  Funny how that works.)  I suspect this is an area where the younger generations will lead us:  my college student daughter is very active both in her Christian student fellowship and her campus' gay-straight alliance, seeing no meaningful conflict between the two.

FWIW, two works of art that helped me in my consciousness shifting were the uplifting documentary From This Day Forwardand the chapter on transgender kids from Andrew Solomon's marvelous book about parenthood, Far from the Tree.  Your mileage may vary, of course.

To be an artist is never to avert one's eyes.
- Akira Kurosawa

https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/

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I appreciate what *everyone* has said, even if I am no closer (that I am aware of) to an answer to the precipitating question -- do I/we want to limit the list to cis-women?

Last year, I had a student write a research paper about whether transgender females should be allowed to compete against cis-females in collegiate sports. There are ways, of course, that the situations are not analogous. All analogies help some and break down eventually. I bring it up because I was reminded of it when I saw Andrew's question and because it speaks to two aspects of the current debate where I feel uneasy.

  • Who are the stakeholders? And what are the stakes for them?
  • What are the unseen/unknown implications of my actions and opinions?

Going all the way back to undergraduate days (which was before I was married), I can remember Cindy constantly using the mantra, "If you ask the wrong question, you'll get the wrong answer." After 35 years of being married, I don't know if framing is at the root of all moral conundrums and/or mistakes, but it's sure been there for a lot of them. If the question is, how can I love my trans-neighbor, then of course the answer is to respect his or her wishes about how to speak to and about her or him. If the question is, how can I direct the attention and reshape the attitudes of readers who might be unaware of the contributions of women to cinema past and present?"then I honestly don't know what the answer is. Perhaps things will be better when we as a world arrive at the point where we don't have to categorize people at all -- where I am just Ken. But we're not there yet, and neither am I, honestly. 

Still another way of framing the question is about accuracy. Who gets to decide the meaning of words? Many years ago I had a pastor who was pretty condescending about any discussion regarding language as evolving. Words meant something, and people couldn't change reality by changing words. Yet he wouldn't say the word "catholic" when reciting the Apostle's Creed and he changed it to "universal" in all the handouts and transparencies used in church. In one sense, it didn't matter to me whether he was right or wrong in asserting that few people (besides me) would notice the difference and the vast majority who did would understand that the word he chose was closer to what the creed actually meant than the mistaken meaning people would take when uttering the word "catholic." In that case he did not want the word to be an impediment. The ironic thing, all these years later, is that I don't think he ever realized that linguistically I was on his side -- that I was arguing against his hypocrisy rather than his inflexibility. I do think words have meanings. Include the word "women." To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, calling a tail a leg does not make it one. (I realize that analogy is reductive and probably offensive -- yet I can't help but feel that declaring that any side gets to unilaterally co-opt the meaning of a word is reductive as well, particularly if it comes with the assumption that any other use of the word is done with intentional malice.)

I had to look up the term cisgender after Andrew's post. The dictionary defined it as "identifying" with the same gender one is "assigned" at birth. That genuinely puzzled me. Was I "assigned" the gender of "male" at birth? I suppose in some Jesuitical way one could parse the language and say, well yes, I was *assigned* the sex of male because I had an XY chromosome and a penis instead of a vagina. Putting aside true hermaphrodites, I honestly don't see how this parsing isn't just begging the question in the other direction, akin to saying that I was "assigned" to have ten fingers or brown hair. 

I absolutely think we are in the middle of a "massive shift in consciousness" regarding gender fluidity. And--cards on the table--I think that's mostly a good thing. But as is the case in so many shifts, those on either side of things tend think themselves as categorically and empirically right as well as morally right.

Aside #1: 

Quote

 And I hope this won't be taken amiss, but I did find that my particular brand of church-going from the 80s and 90s was a hindrance in doing unto others

I don't take it amiss--at least I don't think I do--but I am aware from exvangelicals I know or follow that those who have shifted away from things that it is sometimes hard for them to not be contemptuous to any and all manifestations of their former belief systems -- and that they sometimes seem to me to struggle to distinguish between particular manifestations they've lived with (or even adhered to) from the thing itself. (I say that acknowledging that the negative can be the culturally predominant manifestation). I'll leave it up to others to judge how accepting I am of gender fluidity, but I will insist that to the extent that I am accepting at atll, it is is because of other Christians in my life and not in spite of them...those who have allowed and even encouraged me to pursue thoughts prompted by Biblical passages such as those saying that in the next life there is no marriage or giving in marriage, where Jesus compares himself to a mother hen, or what were the implications of Genesis 1:27 claiming that both male and female were created in "His" image.

Aside #2:

Quote

If such a reel were discovered, it would generate a fascinating discussion among critics, historians, artists, scholars, and activists, and I suspect some consensus would gradually form.

I am reminded of my favorite Stanley Fish passage (I think it was in Is There a Text in This Classroom?") where he opines that "A Rose for Emily" can't be said to exclude the meaning that Faulkner thought he was a reincarnated Eskimo, because if the academy found and authenticated a previously unknown letter in which Faulkner professed his belief that he were a reincarnated Eskimo, the academy would immediately find all sorts of Eskimo references in imagery sprinkled throughout the Faulkner canon that they had just as vociferously argued weren't there the day before. 

Postscript: Adding The Matrix "feels" wrong to me (as in inaccurate or unhelpful, not as in immoral), but I offer none of the above as argument so much as processing my thoughts aloud, around others whose opinions and ideas and knowledge (see state of the forum) I respect. Because I don't yet know or fully understand why if feels wrong to me and I'm skeptical of any explanation that is too quick to simply interpret that feeling as the product of conservatism, religious bigotry, or sexual panic. I *think* it has something to do with my imagining myself as a cis-woman and feeling like, "great the men couldn't give me/us attention for two seconds or really think about how to address our historic marginalization without immediately having to change the subject...and why are they deciding anyway?"

The last part of that question is a rhetorical question that I have answers to, but not ones that I trust or need to share. I've written enough for now.

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13 hours ago, kenmorefield said:

Postscript: Adding The Matrix "feels" wrong to me (as in inaccurate or unhelpful, not as in immoral), but I offer none of the above as argument so much as processing my thoughts aloud, around others whose opinions and ideas and knowledge (see state of the forum) I respect. Because I don't yet know or fully understand why if feels wrong to me and I'm skeptical of any explanation that is too quick to simply interpret that feeling as the product of conservatism, religious bigotry, or sexual panic. I *think* it has something to do with my imagining myself as a cis-woman and feeling like, "great the men couldn't give me/us attention for two seconds or really think about how to address our historic marginalization without immediately having to change the subject...and why are they deciding anyway?"

To me, not including the Wachowskis or other trans women would be akin to starting by acknowledging only the contributions of white women to cinema, and then gradually expanding to include black women, Asian women, etc., until we finally open the door to include trans women.  It's hard for me to understand why we wouldn't open the door all the way at once, except (I'm just going to be blunt) as a manifestation of transphobia, a failure of understanding and empathy.  The Wachowskis, if they are like other trans individuals I've talked with pre- and post-surgery, no doubt suffered from gender dysphoria before their surgeries.  They didn't decide to "become women" so they could bask in all of the historical disadvantages that women have enjoyed across the millennia; they no doubt did so because where it matters, even with male sex characteristics, they felt at their core to be women.  As such, I would regard a woman who begrudged the Wachowskis a place on a list the same way I'd regard a white woman who begrudged intentionality in making sure that black artists have a place on a list.

As I understand it, the hierarchy of bigotry in the US looks something like this: trans suffer more > African-Americans > Latinx > women > Asian-Americans.  So, it's impossible to separate the "do unto others" imperative from the particular question about the Wachowskis and our list.

We've lamented elsewhere in recent threads, the death of expertise (or more accurately, the death of recognizing the importance of expertise) in contemporary society.  We're seeing that play out with all of the conspiracy theories taking hold over COVID.  So I'll play my (relative) expert card - as quotidian practical scientist and quotidian student of psychology - here and implore folks to take the path of acceptance; and if they aren't accepting of trans individuals, to interrogate themselves as to why that might be the case.  This isn't about being woke or politically correct; this is about respecting the science and empirical data, as well as being the best humanists (in the broadest sense of the definition) that we can be.  I shared my cultural/religious background not to shame Christians here (which is why I was careful to describe my own struggles with transphobia as occurring under 'a particular brand of churchgoing,' rather than painting with a broader brush).

To be an artist is never to avert one's eyes.
- Akira Kurosawa

https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/

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1 hour ago, Andrew said:

this is about respecting the science and empirical data

Without wading into the larger topic of gender and gender identity, can I respectfully say (putting on my own "relative expert" cap) that insisting that these kinds of things are purely about "respecting the science" is largely an unpersuasive one, as I teach my science students in my science communication course. For one thing it masks the way that scientific consensus is actually formed in relation to epistemology. Bruno Latour's Laboratory Life: The Social Construction of Scientific Facts is a great landmark in the history of science and technological studies that examines how consensus, knowledge, and "science' is built. Furthermore, insisting on "the science" can actually end up damaging the credibility of the great contributions scientists and others make, as we're seeing in this epidemiological crisis globally.

Anyway, your experiences with your patients are valuable and probably more helpful in persuading than insisting that there is an empirical absolute here.

"A director must live with the fact that his work will be called to judgment by someone who has never seen a film of Murnau's." - François Truffaut

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2 hours ago, Andrew said:

We've lamented elsewhere in recent threads, the death of expertise (or more accurately, the death of recognizing the importance of expertise) in contemporary society.  We're seeing that play out with all of the conspiracy theories taking hold over COVID.  So I'll play my (relative) expert card - as quotidian practical scientist and quotidian student of psychology - here and implore folks to take the path of acceptance; and if they aren't accepting of trans individuals, to interrogate themselves as to why that might be the case.  This isn't about being woke or politically correct; this is about respecting the science and empirical data, as well as being the best humanists (in the broadest sense of the definition) that we can be.

Andrew, you might have been talking about this post. Since you play your own relative expert card, please allow me to lean on or question your expertise -- not as a challenge to it but as a way of better gathering information and understanding from a source that I (relatively) trust:

  • Is it your position (or the generally held position of the practical scientists as well as students of psychology) that gender has no medical/biological definition or meaning -- that it is only psychological or social? 
  • Is it necessary (medically, socially, psychologically, rhetorically) to be able to distinguish between the categories of those who identify psychologically as "women" and those whose biology (whether that be anatomy or genes) conforms to some definition that is or was historically attached to the word "women"?

In one sense these questions sound (or may actually be) arcane or abstract in the face of the broader moral imperative to love people, but I'm admittedly playing catch up about this subject. You mention the COVID 19 conspiracy theories as an example of the effects of losing faith/belief in expertise. But couldn't someone turn that example around and ask what are the conspiracy theories or seemingly irrational responses but the elevation of one's psychological judgments and assertions over medical facts? If I say I identify as someone who is virus-free, does that make me virus free? And if I insist that I be treated as someone who is virus free (don't wear a mask around me when you are treating me), won't certain experts say, "You are entitled to your beliefs and to certain limited freedoms in pursuing them, but I am not required to support you in them -- I'm going to go with the medical science?" Hypothetically, if there were a psychological state where I somehow identified as blood type O Negative but my blood test said I was AB, what blood would you give me in a transfusion?  Perhaps you'd go ahead and give me O Negative since it is a universal blood type and wouldn't hurt me -- but would you let me donate blood to another O Negative? Or it there were two pints of blood and two patients, and the consequences of giving me the O Negative was that the other patient couldn't have a transfusion, why would taking the path of acceptance of my identification be more loving? I guess what I am saying is, you call on us/me/everyone to respect the science and empirical data. What is the science or empirical data that states gender is only a psychological construct and not a biological descriptor? And if it is both (as I think it is), how is science handling this ambiguity, and why is it more loving to affirm one definition and deny the other?

It seems to me (and here again I'm describing my thought process, not arguing for it) that the creation of the word cisgender recognizes that there still is a distinction made between those who identify as female for psychological reasons and those who identify as such for biological reasons (or a combination of both). That being the case, why do those who prefer the psychological identification definition get to co-opt the word "women" and why must those have the biological foundation accept/take on/use the new word ciswomen, cisfemale, etc.?) How is that any different from calling  ciswomen "women" and women who are or were biologically male but identify as women "transwomen"? This is a sincere question, I'm not trying to be disputatious. 

I don't think anyone would be be satisfied if I just changed the name of the thread to "Spiritually Significant Films By Ciswomen." Nor would it be helpful to anyone, I wouldn't think, if I included films by Lana and Lilly with an asterisk. I gave the Matrix a 4 in the recent voting, btw, in part because of Anders' argument that it had spiritual signficance in part because of its expression of the idea that identify is both innate (Neo *is* the one) and constructed.

Aside: This broader cultural discussion isn't going away any time soon, though I'll have to figure out what to do about the list sooner rather than later. I googled "Trans filmmakers" to see if I recognized *any* names beyond those of Lana and Lilly and saw that this article included Yance Ford who appeared at Full Frame in support of Strong Island. I didn't care for that film -- may even have suspected on some levels that it received greater attention because Ford was trans and the Film Festival or audience members wanted to be go out of the way to support the historically oppressed. That's a cynical reaction, I know, and I'm not sure how much virtue signalling plays a part in any of this. But the fact that I knew who Ford was confirms to me that the Wachoswkis are the first iteration of this debate but certainly won't be the last. 

Edit: I see Anders and I were posting at the same time, so I apologize for any overlaps.

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4 hours ago, Anders said:

Anyway, your experiences with your patients are valuable and probably more helpful in persuading than insisting that there is an empirical absolute here.

I think you're reading into my response if you believe that I insisted on an empirical absolute.  Rather, what I urge is a perusal of up-to-date psychological and sociological studies (a "respect," if you will), rather than contenting oneself with unexamined prejudices (as I was guilty of doing until the early 2000s).

I'm enough of a student of history and science to recognize that science-attained 'facts' as we understand them in the moment are moving targets.  After all, each edition of my profession's diagnostic and statistical manual looks at least a little different from the one preceding it (including the removal of homosexuality as a diagnosis from the DSM3 in 1973).  But it sounds as though I might be more optimistic than you that the arc of scientific study bends progressively closer towards truth with a small t, albeit with plenty of bumps in the road.  I can't help but reflect on the reality that my grandfather was born in the century when germ theory was put forth and Darwin published The Origin of Species.  And in my own lifetime, psychoanalysis has been studied and found mostly wanting, the notion of the 'schizophrenogenic mother' was replaced with a genetic and neurobiological understanding of schizophrenia, and less efficacious treatments for many different psychiatric illnesses have been supplanted by better ones.

5 hours ago, kenmorefield said:

Is it your position (or the generally held position of the practical scientists as well as students of psychology) that gender has no medical/biological definition or meaning -- that it is only psychological or social? 

 Like so much in science and medicine, the consensus that I discern is that it's all of the above.  (It's akin to questions about what causes clinical depression, nature or nurture?  The answer is yes.)  Two recent meta-analyses put the prevalence of trans identification for individuals 16 and over at 300-400 individuals per 100K, so for most, the confluence of genitalia, secondary sexual characteristics, hormones, and the cultural and social constructs of what it means to be male or female form a unity.

5 hours ago, kenmorefield said:

Is it necessary (medically, socially, psychologically, rhetorically) to be able to distinguish between the categories of those who identify psychologically as "women" and those whose biology (whether that be anatomy or genes) conforms to some definition that is or was historically attached to the word "women"?

Please don't take my response here as facetious, but rather an attempt to be succinct yet comprehensive.  It would be necessary medically to know if a person is trans, since one would not want to perform prostate surgery on a trans male or blame bleeding from the nether regions in a trans female on ovaries or a uterus.  As a psychiatrist, I would want to know, because we know that rates of depression and suicidality are higher in trans individuals, understood to be due to a combination of gender dysphoria (pre-surgically, pre-hormonal treatment) and social stigma (the prevalence of family rejection and sexual violence suffered by trans individuals is heartbreakingly high).

5 hours ago, kenmorefield said:

In one sense these questions sound (or may actually be) arcane or abstract in the face of the broader moral imperative to love people, but I'm admittedly playing catch up about this subject. You mention the COVID 19 conspiracy theories as an example of the effects of losing faith/belief in expertise. But couldn't someone turn that example around and ask what are the conspiracy theories or seemingly irrational responses but the elevation of one's psychological judgments and assertions over medical facts? If I say I identify as someone who is virus-free, does that make me virus free? And if I insist that I be treated as someone who is virus free (don't wear a mask around me when you are treating me), won't certain experts say, "You are entitled to your beliefs and to certain limited freedoms in pursuing them, but I am not required to support you in them -- I'm going to go with the medical science?" Hypothetically, if there were a psychological state where I somehow identified as blood type O Negative but my blood test said I was AB, what blood would you give me in a transfusion?  Perhaps you'd go ahead and give me O Negative since it is a universal blood type and wouldn't hurt me -- but would you let me donate blood to another O Negative? Or it there were two pints of blood and two patients, and the consequences of giving me the O Negative was that the other patient couldn't have a transfusion, why would taking the path of acceptance of my identification be more loving? I guess what I am saying is, you call on us/me/everyone to respect the science and empirical data. What is the science or empirical data that states gender is only a psychological construct and not a biological descriptor? And if it is both (as I think it is), how is science handling this ambiguity, and why is it more loving to affirm one definition and deny the other?

Here are the differences as I see it.  Someone fixedly convinced that their blood type is O, when lab data reveals AB, would be considered to be suffering from a delusion, defined in medicine (currently - wink towards Anders) as "a fixed false belief that one maintains despite objective evidence to the contrary, and that is not consistent with their cultural norms").  I've never seen a blood type delusion, but here's one that I see every year or three: delusional parasitosis.  I've had a number of patients report that their skin is crawling with tiny insects or parasites.  They'll even show me the lacerations or photos of small indentations in their skin to make their case.  Sadly, their "evidence" is self-inflicted scratches and excoriations, and dermatology evals show there is no infestation.  The cure for their illness is a typically low dose of an antipsychotic medication, not an antibiotic or antifungal skin cream.

By contrast, the cure (and I don't use that word lightly) for gender dysphoria is hormone therapy +/- gender reassignment surgery.  

One of the reasons I'm so passionate about this is that trans acceptance literally saves lives.  Jessica recently introduced me to the 1990 documentary Paris Is Burning, about the NYC drag scene of the time.  The majority of the trans subjects in the film had been booted from their homes by their families, experiencing homelessness and "hustling" in the aftermath.  Reading a couple of "where are they now" articles subsequently, it broke my heart to read that all but 2 or 3 of the folks in that doc (in their early 20s at the time) are now dead.  Things are not as grim 30 years later for trans individuals, thankfully, but they're hard enough.

I appreciate your questions, by the way.

   

To be an artist is never to avert one's eyes.
- Akira Kurosawa

https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/

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1 hour ago, Andrew said:

Please don't take my response here as facetious, but rather an attempt to be succinct yet comprehensive.  It would be necessary medically to know if a person is trans, since one would not want to perform prostate surgery on a trans male or blame bleeding from the nether regions in a trans female on ovaries or a uterus.  As a psychiatrist, I would want to know, because we know that rates of depression and suicidality are higher in trans individuals, understood to be due to a combination of gender dysphoria (pre-surgically, pre-hormonal treatment) and social stigma (the prevalence of family rejection and sexual violence suffered by trans individuals is heartbreakingly high)

   

I don't take your response as facetious at all. I think we are tracking...that you are understanding my question and I think I understand your response. What are the implications of not being able to distinguish between the subsets of "women" that could or do follow from cultural biases or pushback against making rhetorical distinctions between them? But it sounds as though while there are important reasons to want or need to make distinctions between subsets of "women," they are limited, and inclusion/exclusion in lists of great filmmakers isn't one of them.

I think we have to include The Matrix and Cloud Atlas on this list, at least for now. I'd be happier if there were a different "word" for "female" -- one that included both trans and cis women but didn't use the same words that have historically been associated (for me anyway) with biological descriptors -- even if the reason they have been associated with a subset of women have been ignorance or unexamined assumptions. But we don't. Who knows, eventually we may have checklists on census or medical forms that balloon, like those on the race category, from binary (or threefold) choices to an array of more accurate and specific choices. And when we do, lists such as this one may be archaic. But right now I have a binary (pun intended choice), either trans women are a subset of the broader term (female) or they aren't.

And as my spouse pointed out when I asked her for a cisfemale opinion, it's not as though all refinements of a term or category are co-opting the label. 

I might not think that free-verse is "real" poetry and that including "Song of Myself" in a list of great poems changes the definition of poetry, but I am not sure who beyond Robert Frost really wants to stand on that point, and once a professional or cultural consensus has emerged that it is poetry, anyone who excludes it is the one who is being particular in his use of the word. I'm by no means clear on whether there is a cultural consensus that the meaning of the world "female" has changed, but I am persuaded for now that there is a professional (at least in the psychiatric field) consensus and there appears to be a subcultural (people who frequent Arts & Faith and care enough to make such lists and offer such opinions) consensus.

There are any number of angles I haven't considered, and the most obvious one that might make me reconsider is if I heard from ciswomen (or in this case ciswomen filmmakers) or was made aware of arguments by the same that lobbied for separation. But I haven't really seen that...and in general taking umbrage on someone else's behalf of rationalizing choices based on the notion that you are protecting stakeholders that one isn't a part of is a risky business. 

EDIT: Actually the best reason I could think of for excluding Cloud Atlas is that I think it's a crappy movie, but as I didn't limit any other suggestions or nominations as to quality, I guess I shouldn't in this case. This list, unlike Top 25s or Top 100s is meant to be a resource generated by A&F members rather than a voted-upon endorsement of quality. 

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4 hours ago, Andrew said:

But it sounds as though I might be more optimistic than you that the arc of scientific study bends progressively closer towards truth with a small t, albeit with plenty of bumps in the road. 

Haha, yes, probably so, even with my deep interest in and love of science (in fact, I sometimes only half-jokingly say if I could go back and do my PhD in a different field I'd choose pure mathematics). But given the role I see "scientific" explanations playing in the perpetuation of racially-enforced slavery and the Holocaust (e.g. see Heartbeat Detector from our own Top 100 list), I can't help but reject the Whig interpretation of history or science.

Thanks for your response. I'm largely in agreement, but I still think that these things are far less settled than we often believe, and, more importantly for this discussion, that the way we use rhetoric (in a positive sense) isn't always aligned with our goals.

"A director must live with the fact that his work will be called to judgment by someone who has never seen a film of Murnau's." - François Truffaut

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7 hours ago, kenmorefield said:

EDIT: Actually the best reason I could think of for excluding Cloud Atlas is that I think it's a crappy movie, but as I didn't limit any other suggestions or nominations as to quality, I guess I shouldn't in this case. This list, unlike Top 25s or Top 100s is meant to be a resource generated by A&F members rather than a voted-upon endorsement of quality. 

Cloud Atlas is one of those films that has improved for me on repeat viewings, as have both the Matrix sequels (I'm now firmly of the opinion that the Wachowskis have never made a truly bad film, only good or great ones). I'm prepared to lobby for both Cloud Atlas and The Matrix Revolutions as "spiritually significant" should the time ever come to hold a qualitative vote.

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11 hours ago, WriterAndrew said:

Cloud Atlas is one of those films that has improved for me on repeat viewings, as have both the Matrix sequels (I'm now firmly of the opinion that the Wachowskis have never made a truly bad film, only good or great ones). I'm prepared to lobby for both Cloud Atlas and The Matrix Revolutions as "spiritually significant" should the time ever come to hold a qualitative vote.

Huh. My experience with Cloud Atlas has dramatically gotten *worse* for me. I tried showing it to my partner last year because I remembered thinking it was special the first time I saw it, but the only thing that held its value for me was the soundtrack.

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On 5/15/2020 at 2:54 PM, Darren H said:

Last night I watched Barbara Hammer's 30 minute film, Audience, which documents her visits to San Francisco, London, Toronto, and Montreal in the early 1980s. It was shot before and after screenings of her work, when she interviewed audience members, nearly all of whom are lesbians. Ken, it's a perfect addendum to The Celluloid Closet because several women express their joy at just getting to see lesbians on screen in non-pornographic films. Audience is a lovely portrait of lesbian film communities a few years before the New Queer Cinema movement brought them greater exposure, but it's also a portrait of Hammer herself. I really regret never getting to meet her. Her personal charisma in this film is off the charts. She's a bit of a flirt, and much of the audience is happy to reciprocate.

Audience is screening on Criterion Channel right now as part of the Tell Me series. Not sure when or if you'll ever get another chance to stream it.

I found the film mildly engaging. It made me think about film festivals I have been to and the various ways directors engage the audience, or don't. Cindy appeared to me to be a little less engaged. She said it felt like being at a cocktail party where everyone was talking about some book or film you haven't read. Wondered if it would play different if we had watched the films first.

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I thought about nominating Su Friedrich's The Ties That Bind (1984) as my +1, but it had been 15 years since I saw it and I couldn't remember it well enough to judge how it fit the tenor of our list. I revisited it this morning as part of the Tell Me series and now think it certainly needs to be on our growing alt-list. I'd encourage whoever writes the blurb on Sophie Scholl to try to see this film, which is a portrait of Friedrich's mother, who was a peer of the Scholls.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Eve's Bayou is a memory driven, religion haunted film that should definitely be on this list.

"Anyway, in general I love tragic artists, especially classical ones."

"Even the forms for expressing truth can be multiform, and this is indeed necessary for the transmission of the Gospel in its timeless meaning."

- Pope Francis, August 2013 interview with Antonio Spadaro

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On 5/14/2020 at 11:54 AM, Gareth Higgins said:

Part of what's happening here, I believe, is that my friend the magnificent Mark Cousins has a new massive documentary Women Make Film coming soon; I believe Criterion has the rights and along with the British Film Institute are hosting seasons to illustrate.

For those in the USA, TCM will show this documentary series and 100 films by women filmmakers every Tuesday in September-December 1 (14 weeks). You can find the full schedule and more here:

https://womenmakefilm.tcm.com/schedule/

It looks like a great series. My DVR is going to fill up fast.

There is this difference between the growth of some human beings and that of others: in the one case it is a continuous dying, in the other a continuous resurrection. (George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie)

Isn't narrative structure enough of an ideology for art? (Greg Wright)

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5 hours ago, BethR said:

For those in the USA, TCM will show this documentary series and 100 films by women filmmakers every Tuesday in September-December 1 (14 weeks). You can find the full schedule and more here:

https://womenmakefilm.tcm.com/schedule/

It looks like a great series. My DVR is going to fill up fast.

Sigh...I would love to watch this, but my wallet will die a death by a thousand cuts if I spring for every channel and streaming service now out there, whenever they drop appealing content.  I still haven't watched Boys State or Greyhound for much the same reason (Apple TV +).

To be an artist is never to avert one's eyes.
- Akira Kurosawa

https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/

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3 hours ago, Andrew said:

Sigh...I would love to watch this, but my wallet will die a death by a thousand cuts if I spring for every channel and streaming service now out there, whenever they drop appealing content.  I still haven't watched Boys State or Greyhound for much the same reason (Apple TV +).

On the flip side, I haven't bought a movie ticket in months, so the price of a one month subscription to any three of these is still less than what my wife and I would pay to see Tenet (assuming it was good enough to taker her to a non-critic's screening).

 

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