sinecine ISSN: 1309-5838

Is it Correct to Talk of a Contemporary French Women’s Cinema?

In the 1990s a significant number of women filmmakers, many of them graduates from the famous film school FEMIS, began to work actively in the French film industry. In their films these women, the vast majority of them in their thirties, present unusual portraits of young women who refuse the female identity offered them by the society. Film critics declare that the real success of these women filmmakers, with their growing number of films that have been crowned with prestigious awards and received positive reactions from audience and film critics, is the fact that they are acknowledged as auteurs. In this article, we attempt to move beyond auteurist studies and adopt a more thematic and gender-based approach to account for the specific place of women’s filmmaking in the French cinematic landscape. We claim that although contemporary French women filmmakers reject the label of “women filmmaker” because of the ghettoization that this term implies for them, they produce a specific women’s cinema, one that voices the experience of the margins of French society more systematically than their male counterparts, illustrating, perhaps, the marginalization that they experience both as women and as directors.

Keywords: Woman’s film, French woman’s cinema, contemporary French women filmmakers, young French cinema, feminist film criticism.