International Women´s Film Research Network

Current Events:

International Symposium: Border-Crossings: Transcultural Perspectives in Films by Women
April 20-21, 2009 Following the International Women’s Festival in Dortmund/Cologne (IFFF)
[Internationales Frauenfilmfestival Dortmund/Köln (IFFF)]

Call for Papers

Globalization processes are definitively accelerated through the rapid technical development of the mass media, which enable a worldwide cultural exchange, as media contents are digitally retrievable at any time. Through this expansion of artistic, scholarly, social, and creative works, formerly marginalized content is suddenly reaching a large, if also geographically dispersed, audience. For theater, documentary, and experimental films that do not appeal to the commercial mainstream, the new media offer opportunities outside of the market. Using cost-efficient digital production techniques, filmmakers in every culture are in the position to produce their films independently and moreover to make their works public, and to publicize their films, by alternative distribution vehicles via the Internet.

The research project International Women’s Film Research Network serves as a systematic opening up of the cinematic heritage of female filmmakers in particular and focused especially on artists who, like the India-born Mira Nair, live and work in different cultures – in Nair’s case, between the USA, Africa, and India. The thesis of this project is that traces of this intercultural position can be looked for and found, above all on the level of audiovisual organization. The project builds on the methodic preliminary work of a comparative visual film studies approach that connects visual theory, visual history, aesthetics of the image, and visual pragmatics. As exemplary would be the analysis (still to be carried out) of the staging of the gaze in films by international female filmmakers; the linkage of divergent cultural strategies of and taboos on the gaze; and mimetic and gesticulatory pathos formulas (Aby Warburg’s Pathosformeln) and their provocative overcoming. Laura Mulvey, among others, has suggested the importance of the gaze in cinema in a seminal essay and thereby introduced feminist debate on masculine conventions of staging. The politics of the gaze, as well as other topics such as the representation of the body, perspectives on social problem areas within a culture, and the visible discomfort with patriarchal traditions in films by women filmmakers stand at the center of the intercultural investigation of an increasingly important tendency in world cinema, which reworks human migration between cultures in terms of film aesthetics.

Four thematically related specializations are at the center of the study: 1) the monographic recovery of filmic works by women filmmakers to establish and analyze cultural heritage; the investigation of the meaning of gender in works by women filmmakers and the related questions of self-reflection, filmic staging of gender as well as cultural identity or otherness; 3) the search for traces of an aesthetic expression of interculturality; 4) cultural transfers based on the artistic biographies of women filmmakers.

Term of Project: July 2008-Ongoing

Project Members:
Prof. Susanne Marschall (Film Studies)
Junior Prof. Fabienne Liptay (Art History, LMU Munich)
Vera Cuntz, M.A. (Film Studies)