Third Eye Presents: Good Girls Gone Bad

26/04/17
Raw, dir. Julia Ducournau
17th T-Mobile NH IFF: "Manifesto" by Julian Rosefeldt New Horizons’ Polish Days Goes to Cannes at Marché du Film

Getting out of control
Finally I can't take no more (…)
You better learn how to treat us right
Cause once a good girl goes bad, we done forever

Good Girl Gone Bad, Rihanna

Radically incorrigible, courageous, and wildly talented: beware, the angry women of cinema are coming! Their films are not to be ignored. If the future really is a woman, then be on your guard, because this woman has had enough of patriarchal oppression, double standards, social indoctrination and hypocrisy, and false options. This year's Third Eye presents films about women who have left the constraints of social expectations behind and have no intention of going back. Nasty bitches, slutty whores, degenerate mothers, fanatical hysterics-call them whatever you like, as there is a rich arsenal of epithets to describe women who do not fit the norms, but they couldn't care less what others might think of them. Good Girls Gone Bad is feminist cinema in combat mode.

I'm not ashamed to be angry. That sounds punk, but I really believe that to be creative, you have to get angry. And women have a lot of reasons to be angry, explains Julia Ducournau, the director of Raw, a feminist body horror about a vegetarian who becomes a cannibal after being forced to eat raw liver as part of a hazing ritual. When an ambulance was twice called during the premiere, Ducournau commented: People faint when they see blood and guts. For me, bikini waxing is much more drastic. Raw may be fall under the gore genre, but it is primarily a story about being outside the norm, about the hormonal tempest and sexuality of young women growing up in a world where one's attractiveness is measured in terms of weight loss, and eating has become a crime.

Feminine anger is a powerful force that destabilizes warm homes and peaceful communities, it is the seedbed of social order. Proverbs teachesthat it's better to live in the desert than with a quarrelsome wife. And although millennia have passed since the Patriarchal Age, one of the virtues of a good wife remains the ability to refrain from making comments and her graceful suppression of frustration. In 1976, an artist named Martha Rosler made a video called Semioticsof the Kitchen in which she recites the housewife alphabet, presenting a tool of her oppression for every letter: A for apron, B for bowl, C for chopper, etc. When she reaches Z, she grabs a knife and, like a sort of Zorro of the kitchen revolution, slashes the air, only to become a docile housewife once again shortly thereafter. For around a dozen years or so, the protagonist in Bitch has been playing the role of the perfect housewife. Until one day, when she-an introverted woman with suicidal tendencies-undergoes a Kafkaesque transformation: changing from a wife and mother into a vicious bitch-not metaphorically, but quite literally. In a psychotic rage, naked, and with madness in her eyes, she behaves like a rabid dog. Marianna Palka's dark comedy Bitch was a hit at this year's Sundance Festival.

Just as Marthe Rosler was filled with the anger of the second wave of feminism, so was Valerie Solanas. Rosler had a knife, Solanas a gun, and neither one of them was beautiful when angry. Before Solanas shot Andy Warhol, she published S.C.U.M. (short for Society for Cutting Up Men), a radical feminist manifesto calling for the removal of the male element from the surface of the Earth. Although satirical in tone, S.C.U.M. touches on the central archetype of a feminist utopia, i.e., a world without men. In her long-awaited Evolution, Lucile Hadzihalilovic creates a beautiful, pure world that is home to only mothers and children. This matriarchal utopia is transformed into a dystopia, however, and as the film progresses, more questions arise than answers: why are all the women wearing nursing uniforms, what sort of operations are the children undergoing, what happens at night, and, finally, where have all the men gone? Reminiscent of the mood typical of Cronenberg's work, Evolution eludes easy classification, but it is enough to do a simple mental exercise and to imagine an alternative evolutionary path for the human race, and the conclusions start to look revolutionary.

Equally revolutionary, but completely different in mood, is the latest film by Bruce La Bruce, the father of queercore, a man whohas been fighting against patriarchal heteronorms for years. His The Misandrists combines Marxist rhetoric with pornography, ironic humor with the best traditions of B movies, as it discusses the feminist revolution at a boarding school for difficult girls. The institution, located "somewhere in Ger(wo)many," is in fact a secret cell of the Female Liberation Army, a terrorist group calling for women's liberation and the assertion of lesbian separatism. Although La Bruce's film is ironic and at times ridiculous, his political tone is on point.

Good Girls Gone Bad is cinema of the fourth wave of feminism: it is liberated, emotional, and exhibitionistic; it is not afraid of moments of shame, affectionate shivers, or despair and depression. Without embarrassment, it uses sex and pornography as its weapons. First and foremost, however, it is courageous, having arisen from a female rebellion that was engendered earlier by Guerilla Girls, Riot Grrls, Pussy Riot, and SlutWalk marches. This is cinema that expresses its disagreement with the patriarchal order loudly and clearly.

Ewa Szabłowska, section curator


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