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Women’s Films and Social Change

by Maggie Hennefeld.

The New York Times reported some “happy news” in January 2013: “9 percent of the top 250 movies at the domestic box office last year were made by female directors. That’s substantially higher than the 2011 figure of 5 percent.”

While the increase in women directors has fostered the visibility of gender politics, the relationship between films made by women and films about the complexities of being a woman remains mystifying. Traditionally, the category “women’s film” has invoked maternal melodramas (“weepies” like Stella Dallas and Now, Voyager), romantic comedies (Sleepless in Seattle, Clueless), and other sub-genres of “chick flicks” that emphasize interpersonal romance and cosmetic transformation above feminist politics or structural change.

It is striking how much the recent reporting about female filmmaking seems to take its cues from these longstanding genre conventions. The journalism about recent gains and setbacks for women in film production tends to focus on statistical representation over changes in representational aesthetics.

Read the rest of this article from Highbrow Magazine.

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