FOCUS CENTRE SIMONE DE BEAUVOIR - ONE IS NOT BORN, BUT RATHER BECOMES, A WOMAN
"Never forget that a political, economic or religious crisis will be enough to challenge women's rights. These rights are never vested. You must remain vigilant your whole life." This sentence by Simone de Beauvoir has unfortunately never been so relevant as it is now. In her 1947 book, "The Second Sex", Simone de Beauvoir was calling for solidarity and self-organization among women. In the 70's and 80's, many women collectives all over the world began merging their visions and preoccupations to create new representations of the woman. They were resisting normativity and discrimination against women and queer people by creating their own identities; they were inventing tools to promote feminism, class and gender consciousness, direct democracy, and political action.
Among them, the actress Delphine Seyrig and filmmaker Carole Roussopoulos (see "The Extraordinary Adventures of Delphine in the Land of Feminism") created the "Insoumuses" collective: this self-explanatory wordplay is a combination of the French terms Insoumise (unsubmissive) and Muse (as in ”painter's muse”). Armed with the first portable Portapak video cameras - very practical and infinitely cheaper than film, which gave them the possibility to express themselves without additional help -, they continued the struggle of their feminist predecessors, creating their own representations ("Maso and Miso Go Boating", "SCUM Manifesto 1967", "Be Pretty and Shut Up"), films full of caustic humour, political reflection, and feminist commitment, at a time when society did not expect women to embrace technology.
In 1982, together with Ioana Wieder, they founded the Simone de Beauvoir Audiovisual Center to keep on making films, as well as to create a collection of feminist and LGBTQ videos and films. This archive stores many films made prior to the Center, along with books, feminist film festivals programs, distribution catalogues, journals on feminist film theory, film posters, as well as dossiers on feminist filmmakers: a gold mine.
Apart from the three films above, we are also screening "Calamity Jane & Delphine Seyrig, A Story" which is closely linked to the already mentioned films. Also, three films about women and their bodies - "Just Don't Fuck!", "The Rape: Anne, Corinne, Annie, Brigitte, Josyane, Monique, and the others...", "The Prostitutes of Lyon Speak." Two films about women who like women - "The Female Closet" (a medium-length film with three lesbians artists), "The FHAR (Homosexual Front for Revolutionary Action)". To close the loop, we propose the film "The Making of ‘Superbia’," on the making of Ulrike Ottinger's "Superbia – The Pride," with, among other actors, Delphine Seyrig (who played in four of Ulrike's films): Delphine, the Simone de Beauvoir Audiovisual Center, and Ulrike Ottinger all together!
To make a selection of films made and distributed by the Simone de Beauvoir Audiovisual Center has been a magnificent journey towards ourselves (as women, but also as men, as our fates are tightly knit), a true wind of freedom, a path to liberation (at least to getting closer to it): our mothers and grandmothers - these such strong women - had already done everything!
These films must have helped so many people in the last 50 years: the ones who expressed themselves in front the cameras, the ones behind the cameras, as well as the ones in the audience. They are helpful to many men, too - those men who, thanks to these cinematographic or militant postures, to these rich and highly nuanced discourses, started to become more aware and to think more carefully about how they are maybe contributing to gender inequalities in society.
All these women - and their legacy - are a true inspiration to us: we highly recommend our public to take the time to discover all their films, starting with the ones we have eventually selected in the OWR 14 edition of the festival!
Nicole Fernández Ferrer, the director of the Simone de Beauvoir Audiovisual Center, carries on the mission of Carole, Delphine, and Ioana. She will be with us in Bucharest, presenting most of the screenings, and taking part to a few round tables - she is delighted to have the opportunity to meet women, filmmakers, and feminists, and to create a bond between the Simone de Beauvoir Audiovisual Center and Romania.