oh, great: now women have to be sexy behind the camera, too

Raindance Film Festival

Paul Owen at the Guardian’s Film Blog is all excited about the above poster:

The image shows Rankin’s wife, Tuuli Shipster – whom he uses as a model whenever he can – holding up a camera over one eye, with shadows falling over the left side of her face so that only a triangular space taking in her eye and half her mouth is lit. A reflected circle of light in the camera lens replaces her right pupil. The image is overlaid and repeated at least three times, a device that makes the lens of the camera into a series of interlocking circles, something that can be seen more clearly in the portrait version, and produces interesting framing effects throughout.

Shipster’s eye make-up, cherry-red lips and swept-back hair, as well as the icy background colours, locate the picture firmly in the present day, but the old Super 8-style camera she is holding and Raindance’s usual Saul Bass-like bouncing typography create a pleasingly jarring effect.

I’m not sure that Shipster’s eye make-up, cherry-red lips and swept-back hair locate the picture firmly in the present day: she could easily be off a Duran Duran album cover from 1981… which is, coincidentally, only two years after the events of, ahem, Super 8. But okay. Present day. Yes: today, sexed-up images of women are used to sell absolutely everything. Yes, film is sexy. But is it supposed to be sexually appealing only to straight men? (That lesbians would also find this image sexy is an accident.)

There’s no way this is intended to be taken as an image of a woman filmmaker. No male director would be photographed like this. This is what filmmakers — male and female — look like behind a camera:

Alfred Hitchcock and Jane Campion

Kathryn Bigelow and Steven Spielberg

Orson Welles and Sofia Coppola

So this isn’t a filmmaker. This is film: looking at you through hooded eyes, with parted lips, with a sexy leer. And the you is presumed to be hetero and male. Like 99 percent of everything to do with film, the poster defaults to the male gaze.

You’d think an indie film festival — as the Raindance Film Festival is — would be edgier than that. Or is it simply too indie to move away from the male gaze?

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