10 Great Feminist Movies – Part 1

Each film in this list is fictional, portrays female protagonists, and was made by women. Each is also all about the concept of liberation. Many great films exist that show woman who are living under male order and patriarchal law. The following, however, focuses on the celebration of women.

The Seashell and the Clergyman (1928)

It’s a fact, however unrecognisable, that women have played a key role in the history of filmmaking. Not unlike the Suffragettes, whose activism was only recorded in the news in the early 20th century, women were also activists in the world of film.The Seashell and the Clergyman was an adaption of a book of the same name. It’s a visual look at patriarchy- church and state- as well as male sexuality. Surrealists weren’t shy about expressing their derision towards the film upon its premiere.

There’s a central female character who resists the king’s power and the priest’s desire. In one notable sequence, she holds up a burning bra- an image of an activism that came much later. The British Board of Film Censors banned the film in 1927.

A Question of Silence (1982)

This radical Dutch film from Holland is built on the premise that each gender lives in a different universe than the other. It’s essentially a conspiracy film revolving around one central incident in which three women (a secretary, a cafe worker, and a mute housewife) unite in order to beat a man to death.

While the three women await trial, they are assigned to a female psychiatrist whose job it is to assess their level of sanity. The film follows the psychiatrist in having no understanding of the three women to eventually identifying with them. In the court scene, both the defendants and the female witnesses band together in laughter, which sees them being ordered out of the courtroom. As they are escorted out, while still laughing hysterically, members of the male judiciary watch in bewilderment. Upon release, audiences offered a divided reaction: men loathed it while women understood it.

The Gold Diggers (1983)

This film from Sally Potter combines a number of genres, such as agitprop, arthouse, and avant-garde in a look at patriarchal power and the relationship between capitalist economics and women as exchange objects and icons. The movie also concerns itself with the power that comes with an image through an examination of cinema in both its ideological power and its history.The movie was shot in Iceland in high contrast black and white. Its images reference early cinema, like D.W. Griffiths’ silent shorts and the 1933 film Gold Diggers, a title from which it took inspiration. Further, the film incorporates feminist film theory, such as notions of a man’s gaze. The relationship between the two leads, one black female and one white female, illustrates the complexities that exist in the relationship between race and gender. The film’s crew was 100% female. The screenwriters Lindsay Cooper, Rose English, and Sally Potter were also in control of the film’s artistic elements- music, design, and art, respectively.

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