Week 3: Above or Below
Our last week of Women in Film revolved around films’ relationships to metaphors, meaning, and truth, as well as the division between those work above or below the line within the film industry. Through analyzing Maya Deren’s Statement of Principles, we interacted with the idea that what makes humans different from other animals is the ways in which they interact with matter and develop meanings. Through art, people come to interact with, change, and assign meaning. Art also forces audiences to come into contact with meanings, metaphors, or truths that they may have never seen before. Each of the five films from this week, Meshes of the Afternoon, History and Memory, Watermelon Woman, Wendy and Lucy, and The Fits, introduced identities that I have found to be misunderstood, misrepresented or underrepresented in film to the forefront. Each work employed a series of different stylistic choices and strategies, from narrative to collage to documentary, to introduce stories and truths that often go untold to audiences in an accessible way.
To finish out our class, we began to discuss how the work done by women in film “above the line” influences those “below the line” and how the women we have studied this block contribute to film and media activism. Those working above the line, like producers, directors, and actresses, repeatedly outshine those working below the line, like set and costume designers or intimacy coordinators. This is often because those that are above the line serve as the faces of film and the effort put in by those working below is assumedly nonprofessional or able to be done by anyone with a little training (which isn’t true). The women we studied this block have brought more attention to the importance of below the line workers and have begun the process of bringing balanced gender representation to the film industry.
Despite struggling to become used to a new schedule and taking class online, I have learned to love a number of styles of art that are new to me and appreciate the little things and simple wins a bit more. I’m looking forward to being back on campus and getting back to “normal” life, but for now, I’m grateful to still have the opportunity to learn while at home and I’m looking forward to seeing what else I learn while life is flipped upside down.