Anna Karina in Pierre le Fou


Mika Kaurismaki's 'The Girl King' unveils a brilliant Queen Kristina

 Queen Kristina (Malin Buska) of Sweden with Lord Chancellor Axel Oxenstierna  (Michael Nykvist) flanked by Count Johan Oxenstierna (Lucas Bryant and Karl Gustav Kasimir (François Arnaud)
Courtesy of Festival de Cannes, used with permission

The Girl King

Mika Kaurismäki has made a quality and authentic study for modern audiences of Queen Kristina of Sweden in “The Girl King”. It debuts on VOD on Dec 8 via YouTube, Vudu and Google Play and the film's distributor Wolfe Video. Wolfe Video bought the North American rights at the Cannes Film Festival where the film debuted in May and has also released a DVD.
The 17th century regent of Sweden, daughter of the great king Gustav Vasa, has been the subject of several films including Rouben Mamoulian's 1933 epic "Queen Christina" starring Greta Garbo. Kaurismäki presents a sober and realistic portrait of the queen. He has shown her as a commanding figure with a court that could not accept that she wanted to have sovereign control over her life and her kingdom. Kaurismäki also tells the story of René Descartes whom Kristina invited to the Swedish court to instruct her on his theories.
In Kaurismäki’s film Descartes works against Kristina and helps to separate her from her lover Ebba Sparre (Sarah Godon) so she can fulfill her duties as Sweden’s queen and not become a Catholic. The love story is important to the history of Kristina and is given ample room in the film. Kaurismäki was incredibly captured by this brilliant thinker who ended the 30-year war and in so doing was a pioneer in working for a European Union. He regards her as an extraordinary woman who would be modern even today.
The time period of the film concerns Kristina from a young girl to the time she abdicated from the throne under the guise of becoming a Catholic. Karusimäki, if asked, said he would make another film about Kristina. After she left Sweden she brought with her a treasury of Swedish cultural artifacts. When she got to Italy, she created a lab where she studied alchemy and founded "Accademia dell'Arcadia". She was part of the Pope Clement X's inner circle and initially lived in Palazzo Farnese which was a model for part of the Swedish palace. Queen Kristina is buried in the Papal Basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican.
Kaurismäki said the film took 10 years to make and during the process his editor died. His framing of the film has the form of chamber music – music created with few instruments, and usually in a palace chamber. It is a form that grows on you in its subtle power. There are few outdoor scenes and the castle is Finnish located in Turku. In this castle is the room where Kristina was actually conceived.
Michael Nykvist as Axel Oxenstierna, the Lord High Chancellor of Sweden, has an interesting role that departs from his usual action films as the man who tried to steer Kristina on the path her father had expected her to follow. Swedish actress Malin Buska as Kristina gives a compelling performance and brings to the screen the rage that such a brilliant woman must have possessed to be thwarted in love and in all her endeavors as a queen.


Laurie Anderson's 'Heart of a Dog' tells ghost stories and love stories

World debut of 'Heart of a Dog' by Laurie Anderson
Courtesy of La Biennale di Venezia

Heart of a Dog

Performance artist and filmmaker Laurie Anderson was in San Francisco for a brief visit in conjunction with the theatrical release of her new film “Heart of a Dog” that opens in San Francisco November 13 at Landmark Theatres. The film debuted at the Venice Film Festival September 9 and is a thought provoking film about love stories and ghost stories, and how stories are relayed in our personal lives through art and media. Anderson relates stories about dreams and the possibilities for new ways of storytelling with new media.
"Heart of a Dog" weaves story telling with films Anderson shot of her dog Lolabelle and 8mm films from her childhood. She uses iPhones, drone phones, and different textural backgrounds. She wrote the script and did the art work and composed the music. This kind of singular vision seems to be the hallmark of her work. Anderson usually travels to cities and does installations, creating image, word and musical journeys.

Anderson explores the synchronicity of what we do in life having its source in experiences from our childhood. She looks over her past as a pilgrimage. The talented artist even provides a description of death from the "Tibetan Book of the Dead". She explains that before going to another world the deceased experiences their present incarnation before finding a new form in a state called "Bardo". She calls the death ritual an automation of walking backwards in past lives. Even her film engages in this kind of backward sojourn. All of this is extremely thrilling and provocative for Anderson never ceases to engage with her creations, as she has always done through several decades of work. ' Heart of a Dog' is her newest edition, her latest work of art, which is truly inspirational.

Laurie Anderson recently collaborated with the Cullberg Ballet in Stockholm. Her film is dedicated to the late Lou Reed who she lived with for over 20 years.

Published in San Francisco Examiner Nov 14, 2015


Wikepedia censors Freja Film, historic Swedish women's film organisation

As of September 19, the men's club at Wikipeida has eliminated a post on Freja Film, a women's screening forum in Stockholm Sweden from the 1980's. By trying to save this entry it is clear that decisions are made within a very select group of individuals, who are not only undemocratic but discriminatory towards women's culture. No amount of change to the article could save it. The young male wikepedians with a sense of white male under 30 smell insist on scholarly reports, quotes, cross references, statistics, search engines, metrics , in short "pulling a rabbit out of a hat" documents prior to the profuse public use of internet. This means that history can only be determined from this, since none of these individuals have gone to Sweden to research at "KvinnSam - Nationellt bibliotek för genusforskning" - the national library for gender studies. Kvinnobulletinen, a woman's magazine from 1971 to 1996 mentions "Freja Film" in several articles.

According to Seneca, 2000 years ago , "To be everywhere is to be nowhere." Yet Wikepedia uses this rule of thumb for subject validity.

Since no one really takes Wikepedia serious except students who rely on it for plagiarized term papers , the omission of this article should be seen as a blessing. But it's a marvel to behold the process of getting an article into Wikipedia, dictated by a spider web of techno geeks who conjure up the anonymous faces of the Deep Web. If you have ever entered into discussions with wikipedians, the modern concept of fascism actually comes to mind, with this definition, from Wikipedia, as context:

  • the use of fascist as an epithet for authoritarian and intolerant power-holders has a distinct analytical basis, suggesting that fascism is a continuum or a social relation, rather than simply a political system, and that acts of repression are in some way homologous with fascist ideology.

When Wipedia asks for donations to continue its practice of selective entrees, remember who is really behind the decisions. 


Freja Film: Wikipedia threatens history of women in film

Before Wikipedia erases the history of women in film for being non-important, CineFemme will preserve this herstory of Freja Film, which has already spidered elsewhere out in the web,

Freja Film was a radical screening forum held at the "Stockholm Women's House (Kvinnohuset)" in Stockholm, Sweden, during the 1980s. The name Freja was chosen for the group paying homage to the Nordic goddess who was the leader of the Valkyrie. Kvinnohuset was an important meeting place for women during the 1980's and 1990's in Stockholm. The space on Snickarbacken 10 was shared by different women's organisations such as Freja Film , self defense groups, Kvinnobulletinen[1][2] Lesbiska Feminister, and musicians in Spelhålen. [3][4][5][6][7]
The original core group was composed of Moira SullivanYvonne Eriksson, and Anna Kindgren. Guests to the women's house included filmmaker Barbara Hammer. Regular screenings of films made by women were held with discussions afterwards. The icon on the poster head for the monthly screenings was Dorothy Arzner, the only woman working in Hollywood as a director during the 1930s. Freja Film was modeled after the Amsterdam based feminist film and video distribution collective Cinemien.[8] Freja Film imported films with permission of filmmakers for special screenings. Some of the films screened were Lizzie Borden's "Born in Flames" which won "prix du public" at Créteil International Women's Film Festival in 1983 and Marleen GorrisA Question of Silence which won in 1982. Freja Film's activities and reports from women's film festivals were published in Kvinnobulletinen, an important journal for women in Sweden during the 1970's through 1990's. Among the editors was Ebba Witt-BrattströmFreja Film was the contact organisation of women's film established during a special conference sponsored by UNESCO in 1981 held at the 1st International Feminist Film and Video Conference in Amsterdam. At the Amsterdam meeting all functioning women's festivals and women working in film such as Frances ReidBarbara HammerMichelle Citron presented papers and strategized about reaching women in media around the globe. Also present was the newly startedCréteil International Women's Film Festival(1979), the longest surviving women's film organization in Europe. Freja Film worked closely with Créteil International Women's Film Festival as the Nordic contact organisation.

1.      ^ Stockholms KvinnoCentrums arkiv Kvinnobulletinen
2.      ^ Schmitz, Eva Den nya kvinnorörelsen under 1970-talet, 2009.
3.       ^ Gallagher, Margaret Unequal Opportunities - The Case of Women and the Media, UNESCO 1981.
4.      ^ Mickey Lee, A review of UNESCO's publications on women and communication, International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR) 23rd Conference and General Assembly, Barcelona, Spain 21st-- 26th July 2002
5.       UNESCO (1980). Women in the media. Paris: UNESCO.
8.      ^ Kuhn, Annette, The Women's Companion to International Film, p. 83.


    Amy Winehouse's end of life truthfully chronicled in new Cannes documentary

    The great jazz singer/songer writer Amy Winehouse
    “Amy” which debuted at the Cannes Film Festival in May is an extraordinary exposé of the life of the late Amy Winehouse. There is virtually little relief knowing Winehouse’s short life cyle in the public eye was due to substance addiction, but this documentary reminds us how her career was built on the joy and enchantment of her artistry. British filmmaker Asif Aspadia’s “Amy” was nominated for a Golden Eye Award for best documentary as well as a Queer Palm at the Cannes Film Festival Cannes Film Festival and showcases previously unseen footage of this phenomenal artist.

    The documentary starts out like probably many music videologs that trace the career of an emerging artist. It is impossible to see Amy Winehouse as anything but an extremely talented jazz vocalist who was born with talent not luck. She felt best playing in intimate jazz clubs with good musicians. She loved to write songs and was clearly one of the best singer/songwriter jazz vocalists of this century. Her exquisite voice, vocal range and phrasing hit notes with spot on accuracy and emotionally wrenching language, framing familiar episodes in life with an exactitude inspiring international introspection.
    Winehouse’s new fans proclaimed their infatuation with that voice and those incredible lyrics. This is the same public that booed her off the stage at the end of her career for failing to sing and who even demanded their money back. It was pay back time for the public that felt they made her. Her refusal to perform in Belgrade can only be seen as an act of defiance and strength for no one listened to her when she said she didn't want to go. "Amy" updates the media picture of this outstanding vocalist and shows how she stood her ground and said no to a large concert she could no longer tolerate as a serious artist.
    Amy Winehouse stands her ground and refuses to perform at Belgrade

    Tony Bennett confirmed this when he said that Amy Winehouse was one of the great jazz musicians of our time on the order of Elsa Fitzgerald. Shown in the documentary is a beautiful and touching collaboration of Winehouse and Bennett. 

    Given substantial room is Amy Winehouse's relationship with her husband Blake Fielder-Civil , a relationship characterized in the documentary as all consuming, temptuous and painful. Fielder-Civil introduced her to heroin and crack and Amy could not be separated from him until he was forcefully incarcerated and later divorced her. According to Fielder-Civil, she did not want the divorce and her signature was forged. By Amy's own admission the relationship was a drug.

    Also given ample space is Winehouse's eclectic vintage fashion sense, heavy eyeliner,  and her hairstyle inspired by a fusion of the 60's pop group "The Ronette's" and Brigitte Bardot.

    At first we love our artists for the accord that they strike in our experience but as they become successful within the industry model, they become our slaves and wind up dolls. “Amy” well illustrates the modern myth of god/goddess destruction. The artist pulls the strings of our hearts and we become fickle and restless and lose interest waiting for the next sensation. The industry has of course created this fickleness, this throwaway artist society with mythological heroes and heroines, even when they are banished or doomed.

    “Amy” makes one wonder how extraordinary it must be for any megastar to not succumb to drugs and alcohol. “Amy” indeed presents a horrifying picture of what success actually looks like, mirrored in the fearful faces of Amy Winehouse as she walks to fame and out of it in her short life. At first stunned at the ignorant questions she is asked as an artist she is later repulsed by the invasion of her privacy by the media.

    Almost everyone is a player in this mediated gimmicry—even her father who brings photographers to St Lucia where she becomes drug free and chastises her when two "harmless" tourists asks for a photo with her and she is less than overjoyed.  That one simple photo to her is equal to all the excesses she has suffered since she began winning awards and recognition. Jay Leno and David Lettermen ridicule her drug habit on national television but if they did that to someone with an illness other than addiction they would be shut down. Both are finally going anyway as spent fuel.
    We wonder why someone so incredibly talented, such a beautiful unique creative and illuminating young woman can die before our eyes after an inevitable failed comeback as painful as the one planned by Michael Jackson. But the answers are all there in “Amy” of how this could be.

    There are no particular culprits, since success is a cunning foe that is propelled by faceless greed and commerce. Artists whose careers are intertwined with commerce pay a heavy price. There is also the truth that Amy Winehouse even before she became famous was a substance abuser with food and alcohol. Her parents, in the documentary, seem clueless that alcoholism was just as important to tackle (though they disagree with how they are presented). Going to rehab, or not going to rehab as the song goes that became her signature song did not seem to sink below the goal just being clean and tackle the underlying issues behind her relapses.

    Amy Winehouse was a beautiful soul and there are ample pictures in this brilliant documentary of her upbringing, her first songs with enchanting poetic images in  her ever enlarging career prompted by public demand for more of her. And as the public demanded more of Amy, she began to disappear with increasing regularity. However, it is clear that it was not only a public sacrifice but her support system and her own ignorance of addiction that took her life, despite doctor's warnings. All this is evident in this powerful documentary.

    “Amy” shows how the success pendulum cares not for beautiful souls but is a cunning predator that kills with animal instinct the wondrous artists of our world who exist only to enlighten us and ease our every day lives. Thank Amy Winehouse for her gifts, and see in Amy Winehouse a vulnerability that was not strong enough to stand up to the gimmicry and was left unprotected by family, husband, fans and promoters. Amy Winehouse died from alcohol poisoning in July 2011 at the age of 27.  Asif Aspadia dignifies Amy Winehouse who was always worthy of our love.


    Stig Björkman's 'I Am Ingrid' mesmerizes 68th Cannes Film Festival

    Ingrid Bergman with her film camera on the road.
    Ingrid Bergman with her film camera on the road.
    Courtesy of Mantaray Film

    The festival poster for the 68th Cannes Film Festival is a picture of Ingrid Bergman. Her image is used in most of the daily schedules and this is truly because Swedish filmmaker Stig Björkman’s documentary - " Jag är Ingrid" (Ingrid Bergman - In Her Own Words, Sweden 2015) brings her to life again. The documentary was selected for the category "Cannes Classics" and its worlddebut at the festival was May 19. The film's international sales are managed byTrustNordisk and it has already been bought by Italy, Japan Taiwan and France.
    "Ingrid Bergman - In Her Own Words" could just as well been in competition because the documentary is that good. It highlights the work of a woman that dedicated her life to film Though she was a phenomenal artist so little is out there about her life on film. The marginalization of women at the festival is one of the issues that Cannes has been criticized for and the need to address this is real and immediate. Even Ingrid Bergman experienced the same diminishment of roles when she was no longer a young ingénue.
    Stig Björkman directed the documentary and co-wrote it with Dominika Daubenbüchel and producer Stina Gardell. Swedish vocalist Eva Dahlgren, who also sings the final ballad of the film, coordinated the Super 8 footage and Ingrid's letters to her friends are read by actress Alicia Vikander. Björkman revealed at the debut introduced by Cannes festival director Thierry Frémaux that the film came about through his friendship to Ingrid's daughter Isabella Rossellini who suggested that they make a film about her mother.
    Most of the film is found footage from newsreels but also footage of the home movies that Ingrid and her family made during her years in Hollywood, Italy, Sweden and London. The assemblage by Dominika Daubenbüchel is extraordinary and the editing of this footage is brilliant. Above all it shows that the ultra professional Ingrid Bergman gave the greatest emphasis to her children who were apart from her during her busy acting schedule.
    We see Ingrid with a film camera on many occasions during the film. Her father was a photographer with an eye for mis en scène and selected costume and makeup for his portraits of Ingrid who is often in character. Ingrid lost her parents when she was very young and as far as men behind the camera, fell in love with photographer Robert Capra, and later in life married filmmakerRoberto Rossellini. She wrote to him and asked if he needed an actress who spoke English and a little French. That letter of invitation resulted in several years of marriage and the birth of three children, all of which are part of the film.Pia Lindström, her daughter by her first marriage to Petter Lindström, is also in the film.
    Ingrid defied the conventions of Hollywood and never regretted the things that she did, she said, but "what she hadn’t done". As she got older, her choices for roles diminished but she still kept working. By her side throughout her career were several strong women including Irene Selznick, the wife of David O. Selznick, but in her letters to them it was always about her children. This extraordinary documentary makes you not only esteem Ingrid Bergman but also her children Pia (Lindström), Robert, Ingrid and Isabella Rossellini. All of them have her incredible charm and intelligence. In many ways Ingrid never lost her Swedish roots and when working in the garden, raking leaves and pushing a wheelbarrow, the tall Ingrid Bergman remained down to earth. She worked with great directors, but although she could not control what was said about her abroad and in Sweden, in her own life she made her own images.

    Patricia Highsmith's 'Carol' in official Cannes selection

    Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara as Patricia Highsmith's 'Carol' and 'Therese'
    Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara as Patricia Highsmith's 'Carol' and 'Therese'
    Courtesy of Festival du Films de Cannes, used with permission


    Todd Haynes "Carol" is at the top of the list for Anglo-American critics at Cannes but it is not a top runner for Francophiles. The biopic is artistically executed with soft filters and props from the 50's but many look like they were acquired for the movie from antique shops and do not have that fresh look that newly acquired possessions should really have. The narrative is a haunting one that touches on homophobia in the 1950s based on Patricia Highsmith's intriguing title, "The Price of Salt" (1952). 'Out' lesbians at the time were only known to each other and their private circles, and met in secret clubs.
    Carol (Cate Blanchett) and her lover Therese (Rooney Mara) are both heterosexual women trapped in aimless or loveless relationships that do not inspire them. This lack of belonging and accountability is not about two women just having an intrepid affair for although they are surrounded by men throughout the film, their affinity lies with each other. This is a hard concept for many and witchhunts and claims of immorality are the results of not getting it. Leaving a man for a woman is an affront to how society has been calibrated. When Therese is asked if she is a lesbian, she adamantly denies it, so powerful is the taboo.
    Cate Blanchett, producer of the film, gives one of her best performances to date. Carol is the kind of mythical creature who is clearly in a vulnerable position but does not want to put her feelings into words. Therese wants to ask her questions and eventually Carol lets her. Therese's inward intensity at the prospect of this relationship is comprised of an entourage of penetrating stares. Their relationship commands the film and is the backbone of the narrative arch that compels spectators to listen to their dialogue while off handedly taking note of the makeup, costumes, appliances, shop fronts, automobiles, and furnishings of the time.
    Ultimately, Todd Haynes requires viewers to surrender to the love story. On the final days of the Cannes screenings, crowds swarmed to stand in block long queues with the high critical ratings, but it is not altogether clear that they were there to witness the silent rampages of homophobia that is part of the film's message or to watch two women in love that is still a voyeuristic thrill. There is also the time honored clever Weinstein & Co schematic involved in pushing a film like this at the box office and for awards shows. For Cannes, narratives about lesbians have been hugely successful such as Palme d'Or winner La Vie d'Adéle (2013) and Haynes is contending for the award this year.
    Todd Haynes has put a lesbian relationship up front and in doing so watches to see if the two women in the relationship put it first too. They always have men to rely on and it is somewhat contrived that they are constantly being hit on so that they are (we are) absolutely sure of their choices. Therese notices other lesbians but in her upwardly mobile New Yorker wardrobe does not look like one of them. The elegant Fifth Avenue dressed Carol has had other lovers and one since she was a child (Abby -Sarah Paulson) that stands up for her as far as female bonding. But other than their affair, Carol and Therese have a hard time finding each other and making it stick. Their professional energies which involve retail buying,and doing photography for the "New York Times" seem like distractions. Their real job is each other. Therese gets an expensive camera from Carol and in turn gives her a Billy Holliday record. Materialism is a large part of this film. Will they eventually wind up sharing an uptown flat in Manhattan? How could they not?
    Patricia Highsmith's novels have been put to film before. Matt Damon's Tom Ripley in "The Talented Mr. Ripley" (1999) is far from the outwardly gay character that Carol seems to be. Todd Haynes has decided to make a proper claim to Highsmith's character's sexuality and lifestyle. It seems to work better with lesbians who have discarded their male suitors than for gay serial murderers.
    "Carol" should do well because of the star wattage of Blanchett and Mara who command every scene they are in. In the end we are left with a stylistic mis en scène furnished with all the appropriate items of the time and a love story that is made totally believable by the actors. This is the kind of film that dreams are made of and the love story enchants. Unlike their characters, Blanchett and Mara are not only make believe. At the Cannes photo shoot both actresses had their hands on Todd Haynes rear end. Cate Blanchett made it clear that she had many women friends, but no lovers, a question on many journalists' minds at Cannes.


    "Film International" 2014 fails the 'Bechdel test'

    The last "Film International" issue that published my work, and one of the last created by former submissions editor, Liza Palmer. The title of this issue (Erotic, silent, dead) is prophetic, symbolizing the pendulum of thanatos and eros inherent in the representation of women in film.
    This is a repost of an article on "Film International" (FINT) from August 2014 primarily because the only response to it by the current editor in chief Daniel Lindvall was to request a correction about his attendance at a 2004 film conference in London. This is when the new FINT was introduced by Intellect, its publishing house. Secondly, because at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, something is finally being done about the underrepresentation of women in film. This was raised by Jane Campion at last year's festival which I wrote about, an article that "Film International" rejected.  This year at Cannes there were seminars with women in film sponsored by the festival and different cultural organisations (Créteil Films de Femmes organized one event on May 18). It is exciting to learn at these meetings that the Bechdel test is now used in many countries today, a test that is an index of how women are represented in film. The theatre operator of "Bio Rio" in Stockholm where the Bechdel test was first launched in Sweden, Ellen Tejle, was at the May 18th meeting. Daniel Lindvall agrees with the test but argues that some films that pass the test "aren't good enough".

    "The Bechdel Test, sometimes called the Mo Movie Measure or Bechdel Rule is a simple test which names the following three criteria: (1) it has to have at least two women in it, who (2) who talk to each other, about (3) something besides a man. The test was popularized by Alison Bechdel's comic Dykes to Watch Out For, in a 1985 strip called The Rule. For a nice video introduction to the subject please check out The Bechdel Test for Women in Movies on"

    Both the underrepresentation of women in film and the Bechdel test, which has amplified this reality, continue to be relevant. And "Film International" continues to be a bastion of film criticism by men. Held to the same criteria of the Bechdel test for the presence of women in the publication, FINT would not pass.

    Original post, August 2014

    After almost 10 years of writing for "Film International", I will no longer submit film criticism or reports. Since 2014, the newly installed content editor, Jacob Mertens - a white male under 30 working under the editor in chief since 2004 Daniel Lindvall, wants webzine articles to be 'bloggish length', 500-750 words and doesn't want to edit content but take in material ready to print. The distinction between a blog and a webzine has since been obliterated. Mertens is distinguished for publishing his own work and and the work of primarily male writers.  

    Liza Palmer, the previous FINT editor since 2003, resigned in May 2013 and was exceptionally adept in printing articles about marginal representation and unique women film festivals and film culture. Veteran writers prior to Mertens could suggest a topic and it was usually published.  The reward for writing pieces requiring assembly in the FINT webzine, according to Mertens, is “being published’. Editorial work for him means 'coddling' writers. Editorial work for Mertens is just plain work that he doesn't want to do. 
    "At Intellect, we are committed to fostering original thought and widening critical debate in both emerging and established subjects. We offer an unbiased platform and are committed to representing our authors’ voices authentically, without imposition of personal ideas or opinions". Mark Lewis.
    “Film International (FINT) - Thinking Film Culture since 1973" – was originally published in Sweden (Filmhäftet. a high quality Swedish language print journal) but was adopted by Intellect Ltd. (UK) in 2003 and became an English language journal. Actually "Film International" can only claim the "Thinking Film Culture" part of their slogan from 2003, not earlier. Michael Tappert was the editor in chief of "Filmhäftet" from 1998-2002 and the new "Film International" from 2003-2004. The new format was announced at the Society for Cinema and Media Studies Conference in London in 2004 where "Intellect" was one of the exhibitors.

    The mission statement of "Film International" is one and the same for all "Intellect" journals: "We wish to bridge the gap between the academy and the outside world, and encourage the participation of scholars from a variety of disciplines".  "Intellect’s" managing editor Mark Lewis, informed me that there are 22 male and 16 female editors for their various journals of academic culture in popular media. FINT currently has two male content and review editors. There are very few women writers, especially those who focus on the matrix of gender, race and class in the representation of women.

    "Films and culture are biased in so many other ways, in favour of the middle-class, straight, white male and the glossy world-view of corporate capitalism". 
    "Bringing Jacob's age, skin colour and gender into this was simply uncalled for. Daniel Lindvall.
    Daniel Lindvall is a Marxist and Marxism’s problematic relationship with feminism is well known. His key areas of interest are class, realism, modernism, the avant-garde, cultural politics, imperialism, and the labour movement. Gender is not on the list, nevertheless, he is aware of the right things to say about it:  "Films and culture are biased in so many other ways, in favour of the middle-class, straight, white male....". This rather vacuous comment defines his editorial practice at FINT since Liza Palmer resigned.  With Lindvall and Mertens now at the helm of FINT's content, the webzine/quarterly journal is an almost exclusively male bastion. Given the present editorial team, FINT is no longer a journal featuring significant contributions by women or about gender. It is important to continually update the status of today's film journals and webzines regarding gender representation.

    In a recent editorial in FINT, Lindvall identified himself as a supporter of the gender equality program in Sweden for films screened in select theaters.  The Bechdel Test is named after the lesbian graphic novelist Alison Bechdel, where films involving two women who speak about something other than men on screen receive an “A” equality stamp.  This stamp is visible for spectators of the screened film.  

    According to Lindvall, Bechdel is an "easy-to-use test that very clearly reveals the gender inequality in our film culture as a whole. The fact that little has changed, in terms of numbers, when it comes to female under-representation on the screen over the last six decades, is reason enough for me to support the use of the Bechdel test as a guideline by cinemas and public funding bodies alike". But there is a caveat:  some of the films that pass the test aren't "good enough", he adds. To this kind of logic three Swedish women disagree, Anu Koivunen,Ingrid Ryberg and Laura Horak:

    “Instead of rejecting the Bechdel test and the A rating as simplistic, critics should focus on the obvious. What does it mean that, in film, women can barely be imagined to have important things to say to each other? Does this have anything to do with implicit criteria of quality and taste? Why not take the challenge to push one's imagination outside the conventions that come most easily to mind? This is a call for producers, distributors, critics and audience alike”. The Guardian, Aug 27, 2013.

    The real issue of the underrepresentation of women is a core issue today so the patronizing rhetoric of an armchair feminist such as Lindvall is counterproductive. At a Cannes Film Festival women in film seminar (2015) it was announced that the Bechdel test is now being use by many countries. Cannes gets very skirmish about this but basically does very little to change this. Since FINT has virtually no women writing in film any more or has a particular gender focus, the webzine does not pass the Bechdel test either Merten's content choices favor articles about male directors, by male writers. (See below for recent list).

    FINT review editor Jacob Mertens bringing up gender bias is "petty" 
    Mertens does not acknowledge how demographics marginalize women writers at FINT.  Both Mertens and Lindvall represent a paradigm shift in the quality of the journal since 2013 regarding the representation of women. The new FINT online site and journal can be more appropriately called  "Film Culture since 2013 not 1973. Lindvall claims Mertens is "a much better writer and editor than most experienced and educated writers and editors with PhDs twice his age". (Mertens received his BA in Film Studies from University of North Carolina in 2012).

    Is FINT oblivious is to its own middle class, straight, white male bias?  When given the opportunity to address gender inequality, Lindvall ignores the under representation of women working in the male dominated world of film and film criticism. 

    Intellect's Mark Lewis, like Lindvall, supports a relatively inexperienced editor while claiming that "Intellect" takes gender discrimination questions “seriously’. We know how hard it is to prove gender inequality even when under representation is so glaringly apparent, but it is clear from recent correspondence with FINT, that men support men - from writers, to editors, to publishers.

    Before Liza Palmer resigned in May 2013, inequality was not an issue at FINT. Since Jacob Mertens took over, the five most recent festival reports were written by men, the 10 most recent features were written by men and of the 23 most recent online articles, only two were written by a woman. 

    I wrote 17 articles for FINT online last year, all published by Mertens. Twelve of the articles were 'Cannes dailies', as well as four articles from the Venice Film Festival. This was probably one of the first times FINT did a daily Cannes chronicle and Mertens was excited about it.  One of my articles, accepted by Palmer , was never published in the FINT print journal; Mertens claimed it "fell through the cracks". This year, two online articles from the Cannes Film Festival were accepted and not published.  He claimed it was too much work for him but the reviews were about the sexism at Cannes and because of that , he wrote, "the question then becomes whether this is the right fit for your work". It has been for as long as Liza Palmer was editor but not since the webzine continues to feature a predominately male gaze. 

    I am member of FIPRESCI and the Swedish Film Critics Association and accredited film critic, such as at Cannes. I was a member of the Cannes Queer Palm Jury (2012) with Julie Gayet as president. An article on that experience was published by FINT under Liza Palmer.  Other articles were published by Liza Palmer when the journal exemplified diversity. 

    Jane Campion and the women of the 2014 jury © Festival de Cannes

    The articles about sexism at the Cannes Film Festival and a focus on the contributions of women were excluded by Mertens. With Jane Campion at the helm this could at last be taken seriously. A review of Olivier Assayas’ film “Clouds of Sils Maria” (France 2014) , a complex meta-lesbian feature, was also rejected.  Both were immediately published by Agnès Film.

    Cannes seems able to justify that less than 10% for the official selection and only 20% of the films in other divisions are made by women. The organizers claim they take in "good films", not films based on gender. What then explains the invisibility or under representation of women at Cannes? Or that women make up less than 10% of the writers at FINT?  When men are threatened by challenges to their bias, they can always claim women are not good enough. As long as this practice continues, it is important to bring it out in the open.  

    FINT - MOST RECENT ARTICLES SINCE MAY 2013: (two articles written by women; Articles in red about male directors  - 'Merten's male gaze'. Seven of the 23 films on this list were reviewed by Paul Risker. Mertens claims that he wants a spectrum of topics and writers, a hodge podge of information. The feel of FINT nowadays conveys this recipe -- all except the 30% written by Risker. 

    1.           The Corman Legacy Continues:An Interview with Evelyn Maude Purcell (Anna Weinstein)
    2.            Gaming the Future: An Interview with
     Jeremy Snead on Video Games: The Movie
    Forsaken Son: Richie Mehta’s Siddharth
     Borgman (2013)
    5.            The Epic of Everest:
     Closing the Gap Between Man and the Impossibly Distant
    6.            The Past As It Is:Agnieszka Holland’s Burning Bush (
    Paul Risker)
     John Sayles to Attend First Annual REEL EAST FILM FESTIVAL in New Jersey, August  22- 23rd; Deadline for Short Film Series Announced
    8.            The Cold Lands, Cold Indeed (
    Tom Gilroy)
    9.            The Art of the Steal: Joyous, Clever, and Fun
     (Jonathan Sobol)
    10.          Cutting Room Cleanup: Junger’s Korengal
     (Sebastian Junger)
    11.          Sorcerer (1977)
     (William Friedkin)
    12.          Bring Me
     the Head of Alfredo Garcia: Peckinpah the Dramatist
    13.          Finding Fault with The Fault In Our Stars
     (Josh Boone)
    14.          Shoe-String Initiative: An Interview with Nikki Braendlin 
     (Anna Weinstein) (also one of the  most recent interviews)
     Life As He Saw it ( about Roger Ebert ) - Paul Risker
    16.          Seeing Your Doppelganger Can Only Spell Trouble: Enemy (2013)
     (Denis Villeneuve)
    17.          AFI Docs Film Festival 2014
    18.          Escaping Type: An Interview with Aubrey Peeples (
    Paul Risker) (recent interview)
    19.          The Good Neighbour (2013)
     (Jacob Vaughan)
     He Who Awakens Dreams: An Interview with Doug Jones
    21.          Multicultural Middle-earth: Constructing “Home” and the Post-colonial Imaginary in
     Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings
    22.          Cinema that Goes to Eleven:
     Mike “McBeardo” McPadden’s Heavy Metal Movies (2014)
    23.          Weekend: Goodbye to Language 2D

    FINT - MOST RECENT ARTICLES (two articles written by women) 

    UPDATE 2015

    Here is a list of the top 5 online articles, all written by men for "Film International":

    The 2015 San Francisco International Festival Report
    By  Mark  James.
    The Agony of Woman in Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem
    By Christopher Sharrett.
    Steve Hoover and Danny Yourd on Crocodile Gennadiy: A Tribeca Interview
    A Place in Myth: Portia Doubleday on After the Ball (2015)
    By Paul Riser
    Nothing Lost in Times Regained: On the Restored Apu Trilogy
    By Paul Riser

    The present print issue written by two women, 14 men. Reads like a Cannes lineup.

    Naked for Lunch: Alex Radivojević interviewed
    by Rajko Radović
    Redefining the Self: The Human Centipedeand physical spectatorship
    by Laura Wilson
    Family, Gang and Ethnicity in Italian-themed Hollywood Gangster Films
    by Silvia Dibeltulo
    A New World Is Coming: Visiting with Godfrey Reggio
    by John Malkin
    A Queer Reading of Nuevo Cine Mexicano
    by Oscar A. Pérez
    Turning Japanese: From Sideways to Saidoweizu: An examination of a Japanese remake of a Hollywood film
    by Jeffrey L. Griffin
    Like a Mirror Walking Alongside a Road: An interview with Volker Schlöndorff
    by John Duncan Talbird
    A Rebel Rides Again: An interview with Monte Hellman on The Shooting (1966) and Ride in the Whirlwind (1966)
    by Matthew Sorrento
    Tarkovsky’s Nostalghia: A conversation with Nathan Dunne
    by Noah Charney
    Life Regained: An interview with Michael Rossato-Bennett on Alive Inside(2014)
    by David A. Ellis
    Review: The Fictions of Finance in David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis
    by James Slaymaker
    Criterion Core: The Sound of Silence (Safety Last!City LightsMaster of the House)
    by Brandon Konecny
    Around the Circuit: Toronto International Film Festival
    by Barry Keith Grant
    Parting Words: The Problem with Perfection
    by Jacob Mertens