Anna Karina in Pierre le Fou


Ovarian Psycos, directed by Joanna Sokolowski et Kate Trumbull-LaValle (USA| 2016) at Films de Femmes in Créteil on March 18.

Ovarian Psycos, directed by Joanna Sokolowski et Kate Trumbull-LaValle (USA| 2016) at Films de Femmes in Créteil on March 18. The Youth Jury came on stage to award the prize at final ceremony. This film that was also shown to 100 high school students in the Créteil area with a lively debate afterwards.
Members of the Ovarian Psycos will be in San Francisco on April 11 at City College of San Francisco for workshops and screening of the film.
"Ovarian Psycos - Documentary" is about a biking brigade composed on young women who ride to protest violence against the women in their community in East Los Angeles. The collective reveals personal testimony of growing up in East LA and the pressure put on them by families to conform. Biking is their way of showing solidarity with other women.

Grand Jury Prize at Festival International de Films de Femmes in Créteil

The Grand Jury Prize at Festival International de Films de Femmes in Créteil went to "Lipstick under my Burkha", directed by Alankrita Shrivastava (India| 2016). The film was censored in her country Special Mention (Mention spéciale) went to "People That Are Not Me", directed by Hadas Ben Aroya (Israel | 2016). Ben Aroya is the producer of the film and the main character named Joy, which is about and herself and her friends in Tel Aviv that don’t fit into the usual categories – which she calls “non- Unicorns” leading “unauthentic lives”.
Festival International de Films de Femmes.

Public Prize for best feature film (PRIX DU PUBLIC MEILLEUR LONG MÉTRAGE FICTION) at Créteil Films de Femmes

The Public Prize for best feature film (PRIX DU PUBLIC MEILLEUR LONG MÉTRAGE FICTION) at Créteil Films de Femmes went to "Sami Blood" (Sami Blood, Amanda Kernell , Suède, Danemark, Norvège | 2016) directed by Amanda Kernel. Kernel attended Danish Film School and is set in the 1930’s in Sweden. The Sami people, the indigenous people that live in Northern Scandinavian countries and coast of Russia, and their colonial appropriation to conform to the dominant culture. The Sami were not allowed to speak Sami in school and were often shamed. Shot in seven weeks it was usual for Kernel to have 13 takes for each of the scenes, primarily to make the film authentic for the Sami people.


Dorothy Arzner’s films find reception in France

Dorothy Arzner on the set
Dorothy Arzner’s films were marginalized by male film historians until the advent of women’s film festivals in the mid 1970’s. The first major and largely anecdotal accounts of American cinema by male film historians omitted or glossed over her career:  Andrew Sarris: “The American Cinema: Directors and Directions, 1929-1968” (1968- Arzner completely omitted); Kevin Brownlow’s “The Parades Gone By” (1968); Lewis Jacobs, “The Rise of the American Film” (1939, reprinted 1967). Her films have been the subject of scholarship and film retrospectives, richly documented in essays and books by feminist film theorists and historians since the 1970’s.
When Arzner was rediscovered in women’s film festivals in the 70’s, in part promoted by British feminist film theorist Claire Johnston, her historical place in film history was well motivated by the body of work she had done between 1929-1943 above all how her characters challenge the fixed gender roles of women in film and open these films up to contradictions. They show women transgressing their roles and seeking fulfillment. Feminist film theory was taught at universities and colleges since the 80's  and her work is currently discussed, especially with a slew of new retrospectives.

Maureen O'Hara and Lucille Ball in 'Dance Girl Dance'
Dorothy Arzner is relatively unknown in France and feminist film theory nearly non existent. So it is with some alarm that she was introduced rather poorly by the Cinématèque Française for an upcoming retrospective with problematic - and protested - program notes on a revised ahistorical account of Arzner.

Libération journalist Philippe Garnier reviewed six of her films in 2003 while in Los Angeles and was called on to write the program notes for a retrospective of her films at the Cinématèque Française from March 22 to April 1, a bastion of male film history with only six retrospectives dedicated to women since 2005 out of around 300. Fortunately, Garnier does not speak for “Créteil Films de Femmes” whose parallel Arzner retrospective (March 10-19) precedes the program af Cinématèque Française. A round table with myself representing the Cinema and Women’s Studies Department at City College of San Francisco and Cahiers du Cinema film critic Ariel Schweitzer was held for the audience who would later continue on at Cinématèque Française. This discussion was crucial in bringing this work to its proper light. Créteil has previously showcased Arzner’s work on two occasions in the 80s since the inaugural festival of 1979 in Sceaux, which later moved to Créteil.

Katherine Hepburn in 'Christopher Strong' 1933
 Garnier’s overview of Arzner’s work supplies superficial character analyses from her films, which generally fragment in meaningless rhetoric. There are problematic comments about Arzner’s appeal to “militant lesbians”, and swipes at Arzner and  Zoë Akins (Akins wrote scripts for  Arzner)  for their “closeted” careers in the male dominated studio system of the1920’s and 1930’s Hollywood. (Lesbian) feminists that emulate Arzner or “recent attempts to make her a secret heroine of the feminist struggle” are problematic for Garnier. Arnzer is characterized as a  “butch” director who spent her time advancing the careers of actresses. He criticizes Arzner’s male characters who are either “pathetic or alcoholic” and elevates erotic pre-code scenes with Pansy Gray (Ruth Chatterton) in “Anybody’s Woman” (1930) who straddles a ukulele in an erotic pose (1930) , which he considered her best film, or Bubble’s (Lucille Ball) in “Dance Girl Dance” (1940) who performs a hula dance for a lecherous nightclub owner. Garnier's introduction of Dorothy Arzner for the Cinémateque Française retrospective to spectators who do not know about her work is annoying, as are snide attacks on lesbian feminists who identify with her public image, or the screening of her films in academia and educational institutions and festivals.

Clara Bow in 'The Wild Party'
Why elevate an historical figure while vulgarizing the work? Why commodify a retrospective with revisionist history?  Phillipe Garnier claims that Arzner was successful because of two reasons: she had“f---k you money” to play with , i.e. was so wealthy she really didn’t need to work, like Zoe Akins and it infers they bought their way into the business. Secondly, she became a director as a result of a network of women artisans in the film industry in the 1920’s. However, it was Arzner’s competent efforts and the contacts she made at Paramount that made her director before the union jobs that came with the big studios after this period. That Arzner remains after this time and for 20 years in the emerging Hollywood studio system is extraordinarily remarkable. 


Three films directed by women nominated for 2017 Academy Awards

2017 Academy Award nominees 

This year's Oscars was not as white but still very white, and still very male. Only two films directed by women were nominated for Academy Awards--Ava DuVernay ("13th") and Maren Ade ("Toni Erdmann"). One short live action film, "Sing" directed by Kristof Deák and Anna Udvardy won an Oscar. That's it. 

Only four women have been nominated for best director since 1929.  Only Kathryn Bigelow, has won for "Hurt Locker" (2008). Lina Wertmuller was nominated in 1976 for "Seven Beauties", Jane Campion in 1993 for "The Piano" and Sofia Coppola in 2003 for "Lost in Translation". Let's talk odds here for winners: 1 in 88. 

It's hard to note the invisibility of women at the Academy Awards since there are so many women working as actresses or producers in film, however they are not being nominated for directing. Andrea Arnold's Grand Prix winner at Cannes in May 2016 was snubbed - "American Honey". 

2016 women wore mostly red
In the group photo for last year's Oscars, many of the women are wearing red. We have a long way to go for nominated films that salute both race and gender, for nominating filmmakers who are people of color and women. 

The mixup about Barry Jenkins' "Moonlight" winning Best Picture this year was deplorable, still it won that award, and Best Supporting Actor (Mahershala Ali) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Jenkins). Using innovative cinematography and editing it is about a young gay black boy growing up with his drug addicted mother and befriended by an older black male who is a "good" drug dealer. He grows into a teenager, and a man. Compare this with "La La Land", a white heterosexual musical set in LA , so unrealistic and illusional it was able to gather 13 nominations and six wins just for that. We can't escape the world we live by keeping it safe from authentic representation; only in Hollywood is that possible.

Overused words by winners this year : amazing, journey, honored, stories, luck, God. 

Moira Jean Sullivan
Alliance of Women Film Journalists
Swedish Film Critics Association
Professor of Cinema, City College of San Francisco


Lies We Tell Review: "The only men who get caught are those who don’t love their wives enough"

Lies We Tell Review: "The only men who get caught are those who don’t love their wives enough"

Reprinted from

By Moira Sullivan
In British-Indian director Mitu Misra’s debut film Lies We Tell men and women tell lies: men tell lies to their wives, to their mistresses, to each other, and to their children. Women tell lies to themselves, and perpetuate their entrapment as young girls sold by their fathers and families through marriage. These practices continue in Britain where Muslim Pakistani subcultures are in collision with the dominant culture and characterized by street violence, family feuds, and rival gangs.
 Director Mitu Misra came with his parents from India as a toddler and is first generation British.  This is his story with screenplay by Ewen Glass and Andy McDermott
In addition to being ‘sold’ as a teenage bride to her cousin by her father in an arranged marriage, Amber (Sibylla Deen) later becomes the mistress of Demi, an aging wealthy man (Harvey Keitel). The parallels are ironic.  When Demi suddenly dies, his chauffeur Donald (Gabriel Byrne) is sent to clear out his boss’s clandestine residence of her belongings.  He arrives to find her on the premises and does a bit of spying on her before he announces his presence. She is to leave everything behind including a present given to her by Demi. Rather than relinquish it, she smashes it to pieces. An enigma of the film is how she is dressed and videotaped in the stereotypical attire of male fantasy; black thigh high nylons and see-through lingerie, not reflecting herself but male egos, something she has learned to master as a young girl.
The odyssey of the film charts the efforts of a courageous chauffeur and an emboldened woman of self-conviction. Donald eventually realizes that Amber is more than a mistress, but a woman of contradiction and decides to help her. He sees her assaulted by women and men she knows on the streets, pressured by her family, and KD, (Jan Uddin), her vengeful and bullying cousin / ex-husband. Donald repairs the figurine Amber smashed, a learned owl figure perched on monographs, representative of her path towards the acquisition of worldly and interior knowledge. They develop a friendship based on respect and are well balanced and formidable allies: Donald in his ruthless integrity and Amber’s fierce honesty, played by the brilliant Australian actress Sibylla Deen. Amber’s evolution of shedding the veneer of self-deprecation involves telling her father that it would be better for him to call himself a pimp than her guardian, an important message of the film.
 Although the premise of Lies We Tell is that “The only men who get caught are those who don’t love their wives enough”, women in this film are not loved as wives or lovers. Fortunately, there is a vital friendship between an emancipated chauffeur and a “mistress” amidst cultural tension. Women’s second class status is depicted through a series of scenes with Amber’s family and British women see women as rivals after their men. Amber struggles with women of her culture to defy their traditional roles.
 No single factor can explain the success of Lies We Tell, but clearly the relationship between director Mitu Misra and cinematographer Santosh Sivan is noteworthy with many well-crafted shots of the Muslim subcultures of suburban Bradford and beautiful natural landscapes beyond the citadel.
Vivid scenes are complimented with excellent film editing by Chris Gill.  The film’s mise en scène is competently handled by Jane Levick as production designer and complemented by Makeup Designer Penny Smith and Costume Designer Adam Howe. The original soundtrack for Lies We Tell is written by Zbigniew Preisner (Angelica, Trois Couleurs: Blanc, Rouge, Bleu) who provides a daunting and revelatory score for this provocative narrative.
Moira Sullivan
FIPRESCI, Swedish Film Critics Association , Alliance of Women Film Journalists
Moira Sullivan is an international film critic, scholar, lecturer, promoter and experimental filmmaker based in San Francisco and Stockholm. She is a member of FIPRESCI with a PhD in cinema studies. Currently a professor of Cinema at City College of San Francisco, Sullivan is one of the world's experts on the work of the legendary filmmaker Maya Deren (1917-1961). Since 1995 Sullivan has been a staff writer for Movie Magazine International, San Francisco and writes for named for Agnès Varda. She served on the Queer Palm Jury of the Cannes Film Festival in 2012 and is an accredited film critic at film festivals in Cannes, Venice, Udine Créteil, Stockholm, and San Francisco.


Women's March takes charge of the dinosaur in the White House.

Today don't read what corporate media has to say about the march. Clearly anyone at the march knows what happened. Not those who mediated it from afar and did not participate. We know what happened and the intersectionality of men and women, POC and white, immigrants and nationals, gay and straight and BTQI. Anyone on the march felt the immense interconnection and a clear understanding of a sexual predator that has bullied his way into the White House with money lining the pockets of the old school, and a dwindling support group of duped voters. A new generation of millennials are on to DT!

Trump tweets, cowardly, that "all the celebrities hurt the march". What he is saying is that he is afraid of outspoken women who are trailblazers, and the march in general. Women like Cher who marched for peace in the 60's, Madonna who has always been up front about her politics against sexual predators and as anti-war activist, Alicia Keyes, a biracial civil rights activist, Gloria Steinem, awesome founding feminist and smart truthsayer. America Ferrera and Janelle Monáe whose outstanding work in streaming and television speaks to a diversified audience. Trump is a loner, who tries to buy women or commodify them as he has done with his wife and is inappropriately doing with his daughter. The message of the march is that women bite back and bite back in a way that addresses his castration complex. Many images of fallopian tubes, and toothed vaginas were up at the march held by women. And women and men, white and POC, straight and LBGTQI, marched side by side. DTs old patriarchal values are being challenged and the old men with him with beliefs held before the Cold War. Creepy McCarthy type men scared of women and of life. Putin has DT under his thump and has something on him from his days in Russia as a businessman and his paid sexual services from women. Trump will try to extort the wealth of this country with his henchmen as Putin did. After yesterday, this is not possible. He is on alert, and scared.

As expected, Trump also tweets, that protest is an American tradition. It is what he doesn't say that will eventually be heard. He is on notice by a march that eclipsed his inauguration.

Yesterday . there was no division in a national and global effort to unite humanity . In the cities where people marched it was impossible to see corporate induced schisms. The manifestation was intersectional which is missing in media coverage. There was unconditional hope that we the people lives and is a greater force than a demagogue. There was A sense of real and righteous power. No doomsday clouds but a leadership accountability mandate. You had to be there to feel this. It wasn't possible to mediate it.


Women's March in Hot Pink San Francisco

A rainy turnout for the women's march in San Francisco and the rotunda is all hot pink in commemoration. Arrived in time to hear Joan Baez - not seen but heard. Very crowded at march estimated at 35-50 thousand that moved at a snail's pace since police cars blocked the route part of the way. But it was definitely worth it! Nice crowd. Favorite chant Hey hey hey ho ho ho Donald Trump has got to go.

#Why I March

#WhyIMarch To be a part of the real world with women worldwide who support change, issues that matter. To defy hypocrisy and affirm life.

As the women's march progresses in Washington.....

Take a break from corporate media. As the women's march progresses in Washington corporate reporters do anything they can to disarm the aims of protestors. The labeling of this movement as the work of "progressives", or " the left " is intentional. To equate the thoughts of protests with block political alliances is invalidation- that is what it is meant to do. It's easier to attack a block of voters than the values that are being expressed. The ridiculous and lame 'sore loser' attack is another disarming tactic. This is not about a protest of voters whose candidate did not win. Those who refuse to hear and recognize the overwhelming protests over the values this administration raises use this argument freely. This includes DT'S constant updates to what was said, or flat denial what was said, which is the hallmark of a slippery businessman. It is designed to confuse and destabilize - to win back support because of uncensored statements what have consequences. Those who say this administration is good for business must also realize that federal defunding of Planned Parenthood, Environmental Protection and National Health Care makes it possible to pave the way for private business tax rebates, and lack of business regulation. DT is the result of this lack of regulation- a rogue businessman who has NO controls and who is moving through his office like a wind machine shouting and disrespecting anyone in his wake that questions him. This is what an unregulated businessman looks like. Such apathy to people by DT supporters has consequences. Some supporters don't even want to reveal they voted for him because they know the consequences of their vote and must admit their selfishness. What is the point of raising skepticism that this march will do nothing because when it's over everyone will just stop their activism. Or asking women about the group of feminists against abortion as a legitimate concern. The media has sickened everyone during this entire campaign and weakens people. Refrain from watching it. Choose your media carefully and request digests from those sources.


The Rise of the Woman = The Rise of the Nation

"Black women, be ready; white women, get ready; red women, stay ready,” "
Phoenix Radio's call from Honey in Lizzie Borden's "Born in Flames".

The Rise of the Woman = The Rise of the Nation

Women's March Jan 21. 2017.