Francophone Women Film Directors: A Guide

Francophone Women Film Directors: A Guide

Francophone Women Film Directors: A Guide

Francophone Women Film Directors: A Guide


Like its 1997 predecessor, Francophone Women Film Directors: A New Guide is both a teaching tool and a directory for use by scholars and students of film and literature. Unique among guides dealing with film, both for its breadth and for the very fact that it is devoted exclusively to francophone women throughout the world, most of whom are omitted from other directories and studies, this guide contains listings of some three hundred francophone women filmmakers and their films. Whenever possible, dates, brief biographies, descriptions, and brief critical analyses are included. Themes studied include such subjects as abortion, pornography, prostitution, and mother-daughter relationships. A list of film sources and an extensive bibliography, and an index of geographical subdivisions, maximize the directory's usefulness.


Since the publication in 1997 of French-speaking women film Directors: a Guide, by Janis L. Pallister, notable strides have been made in the production of first-rate and well-received films by women. Furthermore, one finds that more and more film studies are either devoted to this area of cinematic production, or, at the least, pay some attention to the matter. a case in point might be the magnificent new history of film by Robert Sklar.

Sklar devotes two or three pages of his huge study to Agnès Varda (340–42); he makes multiple references to Alice Guy-Blaché (though these boil down ultimately to a handshake). Claire Denis figures in his discussions—and even merits a still from Beau Travail—, as does Chantal Akerman. and Agnès Jaoui’s 1999 Le Goût des autres (Taste of Others) is mentioned in passing, though Sklar focuses on the fact that this outstanding film was written with her husband Jean-Pierre Bacri, and that both of them perform in this work. the great cinematographer Agnès Godard, Claire Denis’s right-hand woman, is also mentioned briefly. To Sklar’s credit, Safi Faye is mentioned (361), despite the fact that most scholars take little heed of the work of women when writing of African cinema.

Still the gaps in this voluminous, all-purpose history are notable and painful. For despite their undeniable notoriety, neither Catherine Breillat’s films nor her name can be found here. and especially egregious for its omissions is the section on Québec: no Léa Pool, no Anne Claire Poirier, no Mireille Dansereau, no Sophie Bissonnette. Indeed, no woman at all. (It is perhaps incumbent upon us to say the whole section on Québec cinema is seriously lacking, with only three or four famous men directors under discussion.)

Of course, it is not the purpose of this introduction to present a review of any particular recent study of world film: Sklar’s book is targeted here to serve as an example of the current state of affairs.

In the domain of popular critics, the subjects addressed are much the same. Thus, Roger Ebert writes a great deal about Claire Denis and Agnès Varda. Unlike Sklar, he is drawn to Breillat. (Perhaps for similar reasons, he has devoted a hefty review to Romance.) But like . . .

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