The Woman at the Keyhole: Feminism and Women's Cinema

The Woman at the Keyhole: Feminism and Women's Cinema

The Woman at the Keyhole: Feminism and Women's Cinema

The Woman at the Keyhole: Feminism and Women's Cinema


"[The Woman at the Keyhole is one] of the most significant contributions to feminist film theory sin ce the 1970s." -- SubStance

"... this intelligent, eminently readable volume puts women's filmmaking on the main stage.... serves at once as introduction and original contribution to the debates structuring the field. Erudite but never obscure, effectively argued but not polemical, The Woman at the Keyhole should prove to be a valuable text for courses on women and cinema." -- The Independent

When we imagine a "woman" and a "keyhole," it is usually a woman on the other side of the keyhole, as the proverbial object of the look, that comes to mind. In this work the author is not necessarily reversing the conventional image, but rather asking what happens when women are situated on both sides of the keyhole. In all of the films discussed, the threshold between subject and object, between inside and outside, between virtually all opposing pairs, is a central figure for the reinvention of cinematic narrative.


This book examines how contemporary women filmmakers working in North America, Europe, and Australia have attempted to reinvent cinema as a narrative and visual form. The films and filmmakers to be discussed in subsequent chapters cover a fairly wide range, but share nonetheless a preoccupation with the devices of cinematic narration as central to a reinvention of film and to the representation of female desire and female points of view. Most of the films have had limited audiences, and so raise that nagging question of feminist "accessibility." While I do not presume to make difficult films easy, I do attempt to situate films in contexts that engage with different aspects of feminism and feminist theory, contexts therefore which seem to me considerably more open to discussion than some of the theoretical agendas that have defined feminist film studies. Although for some feminist literary critics, women's writing is anything written by a woman, women's writing cannot be so easily or so readily defined. Given the extent to which cinematic representation is defined by a wide range of practices, and by the input of a number of "writers," it is even more difficult to make the assertion that women's cinema is any and all films made by a woman.

From the outset, there is an ambiguity in the phrase "women's cinema." The term has acquired two different meanings which to some minds are diametrically opposed. The examples of "women's cinema" to be discussed in this book have redefined or challenged some of the most basic and fundamental links between . . .

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