When Filmmaking was Women’s Business
In May 2017, Sofia Coppola became only the second woman to receive the Palme d’Or for best director at the Cannes Film Festival, illustrating that the contemporary film industry is rather biased against women. The difficult working conditions for women in an industry marked by subtle and not so subtle sexist attitudes have been addressed countless times, most candidly by Patricia Arquette during her 2015 Oscar acceptance speech.
However, the film industry has not always been hostile and discriminatory toward women. Indeed, during the war years (1914-1918) many European female artists, writers, and actors sought film as a new venue to express themselves, enabling them to become innovate film directors who often mentored others along the way. At that time, the European film industry was actually quite open to female newcomers. This course will focus on female film directors during the early years of the film industry. They were women who significantly shaped existing film genres or they created new ones.