Drawing on a range of local and international films and filmmakers, this talk will provide an overview of key developments of women in film over the last 50 years.
Contemporary discourse rightly highlights ongoing gender inequality within the film industry, as well as shortcomings when it comes to the kinds of female characters and stories that are presented. While acknowledging these issues, this talk aims to take a more celebratory tone – highlighting the many achievements of women in cinema this period.
We will begin by thinking about the significance of the feminist film theory of the 1970s to understanding the high stakes involved in women’s roles on-screen and behind the camera. Issues of genre and gender provide a focus for considering the 1980s and 1990s, when directors like Kathryn Bigelow proved their skills at working in the stereotypically ‘male’ genre of the action film. The talk will also highlight the value of specialist film festival and digital technologies to women working in 21st century cinema. In addition to thinking about the potential of digital cameras to make filmmaking cheaper, and so more accessible, we will consider the benefits of feminist programming and social media platforms when it comes to advocating for greater gender diversity on screen and in the media industries.
Jennifer O’Meara is an Assistant Professor in Film Studies at Trinity College Dublin. She is one of the organisers of the Dublin Feminist Film Festival, and is currently working on a book on women’s voices in contemporary screen media.