2023-2024 Catalog 
    Apr 23, 2024  
2023-2024 Catalog

SPAN 190 6 - Through the Spanish Lens: Women Behind the Camera in Contemporary Spain


Female film directors lack visibility as a result of the gender inequality that is still perpetuated in the film industry. In the history of Spanish cinema, the presence of women behind the camera was more limited than in the US in its origins, mainly due to a lack of infrastructure, and the numbers were almost brought down to zero during the Francisco Franco dictatorship (1939-1975). After almost 40 years of dictatorship and Franco´s death, and the development of the new democracy, a new generation of women directors defy sexism in the film industry. These film professionals subvert gender roles and women’s sexual oppression; they denounce a society rooted in a patriarchal system and heteronormative discourses, and offer new male and female paradigms on the screen by means of stories that privilege a feminine and feminist gaze or point of view. During the last two decades, since the 90s and until today, the Spanish film industry has experienced an increase in the number of female directors. In 2016, 16% of movies were made by women, compared to 7% in the US. Although women represent over half of the population, female protagonists seem to be featured much less often. This represents a potential gap in our understanding of human experience and it affects how women are portrayed in the real world. Stories tell us what societies value, they offer us lessons, and they share and preserve our history. No matter how many movies with original screenplays and state of the art technology have been recently produced, if the female point of view of reality is limited and reduced, then we continue reinforcing gender roles and gendered stereotypes and we are only exposed to half of the point of view of society.

This Freshman Tutorial aims at enriching the map of Spain’s film canon by giving visibility to female film directors that have actively contributed to Spanish cinema and to the portrayal of Spanish history, culture and politics. The goal is to move towards a much-needed representation of gender equity by studying these filmmakers’ cultural production as work that promotes diversity, equity, and inclusion. In particular, it will address topics such as immigration, the representation of the female body, domesticity and lesbian desire, and different forms of social violence towards vulnerable communities. This course will also pay attention to how these female directors, having gained full awareness of the different forms of gender discrimination in the film industry in front of and behind the camera, are developing alternative modes of filming and representing. This Tutorial will give students the opportunity to explore Spanish society and culture through a number of Spanish movies directed by women. Students will familiarize with a contemporary cultural production that features a broader presence of women directors and other female professionals behind the camera, and gain a deeper understanding on distinctive artistic techniques employed by them to advance their ideological goals. Students will learn about major historical developments, and they will gain a deeper understanding of the complex meaning of Spanish democracy today, while acquiring a better understanding of the current state of affairs of female-authored cinema in Spain. To this purpose, students will watch movies in the four official languages in Spain: Basque, Catalan, Spanish, and Galician, and class will be devoted to the discussion of topics that are relevant to Spanish history and cinema in the global context.   

Special notes: All movies will have English subtitles. Students will be required to watch the movies outside of class. All movies will be on reserve in the library.