Women behind the camera: in Hollywood and beyond

Course Dates: 13/05/23 - 20/05/23
Time: 10:30 - 13:00
Location: Online
Since 1952, the British Film Institute through its magazine, Sight and Sound, has conducted a poll of film critics every decade to find out what are the Greatest Films of All Time. When the latest poll was published in December 2022 it sent #FilmTwitter into a tailspin. There seemed to be some surprise that a film few had seen and was directed by a woman had now taken that top spot. In this Study Day we will look at the women directors whose films feature on 2022 poll.
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
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Full fee £59.00 Senior fee £47.00 Concession £38.00

Course Code: HF183

Sat, day, 13 May - 20 May '23

Duration: 2 sessions (over 2 weeks)

Please note: We offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. Just visit our online Help Center for more information on a range of topics including fees, online learning and FAQs.

What is the course about?

In this Study Day we will be exploring the careers of a selection of women film directors whose work has made an impact on the history and appreciation of filmmaking, by featuring in the 2022 Sight and Sound Greatest Films of All Time poll.

The 100 films feature 11 directed by women including the number 1 film Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (Chantal Akerman, 1975).

Following an introduction to the topic of women film directors and the Sight and Sound poll through social, historical and industrial contexts, we will then focus on the nine women whose films featured in 2022. Working backwards they include:

67. The Gleaners and I (2000, Agnès Varda)
60. Daughters of the Dust (1991, Julie Dash)
52. News from Home (1976, Chantal Akerman)
50. The Piano (1992, Jane Campion)
48. Wanda (1970, Barbara Loden)
30. Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019, Céline Sciamma)
28. Daisies (1966, Vera Chytilová)
16. Meshes of the Afternoon (1943, Maya Deren/Alexander Hackenschmied)
14. Cléo from 5 to 7 (1962, Agnès Varda)
7. Beau travail (1998, Claire Denis)
1. Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975, Chantal Akerman)

This year’s poll reached a wider and more diverse group than ever before and incorporates the top 10 lists of over 1,600 film critics from all corners of the globe who voted for more than 4,000 films overall. But it was up to each participant to define that they meant by ‘greatest’.

Alongside the critics’ poll, 480 filmmakers also voted. Overall, in their poll there were less films by women but we will also briefly touch on La ciénaga (Lucrecia Martel 2001) and Vagabond (1985, Agnès Varda) which feature there but not on the main list.

This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
- Earphones/headphones/speakers.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.

What will we cover?

Throughout the study day you will be introduced to new ways of looking and thinking about film, including and understanding of Film Form (cinematography, editing, music, mise-en-scene etc) and how a director uses these to create a unique body of work.

The directors featured worked across different time periods, different film cultures and with some challenge conventional filmmaking techniques, from those striving to capture the reality of lives around the world, to those putting front and centre provocative and though-provoking depictions of women.

The directors featured worked across different time periods from the birth of the cinema to recent Oscar nominated movies, to those challenging conventional filmmaking techniques, from those striving to capture the reality of lives around the world, to those putting front and centre provocative and though-provoking depictions of women.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

- evaluate stylistic choices available to filmmakers in the construction of mise-en-scène
- conduct a basic formal and thematic analysis of an individual film
- understand and accurately articulate specialist terms used in the language of film
- demonstrate skills in close textual analysis
- gain insights into different film movements and styles
- appreciate basic concepts of the impact historical and production contexts have on a film
- discuss key gender film theories including representation and objectification
- gain insights into the way in which women directors have been discussed as part of the wider film landscape.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

For those who enjoy viewing and discussing films and are interested in sharing ideas and listening to the views of others.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

The format of the course will be PowerPoint Illustrated Talk with film clips and opportunities for discussion and questions around each example.
Watching films directed by the women under discussion would be useful but not essential.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

A handout with links to online reading and viewing will be made available, plus additional reading and viewing materials.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

Please look for other Film Studies courses at www.citylit.ac.uk/history, culture & writing/film studies.

Ellen Cheshire

Ellen Cheshire is a freelance film writer and lecturer. She has written books on Ang Lee and Jane Campion for Supernova Books, and Bio-Pics for Wallflower Press, and Audrey Hepburn and The Coen Brothers for Oldcastle Books. She has contributed chapters to books on Charlie Chaplin, James Bond, War Movies, Fantasy Films, Counterculture, Silent Cinema and an A Level Film Text Book.

Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.