The GynoCine ProjecT
The primary outcome of the GYNOCINE PROJECT: WOMEN FILMMAKERS, FEMINISM, AND FILM STUDIES directed by BARBARA ZECCHI, is to develop an open access online database that offers unique resources related to the production of women filmmakers around the world, throughout the times. It gives visibility to five generations of women filmmakers: the first generation who worked during the so called silent era, and who have left a significant trace through documents, photographs, film posters and reviews in film journals and in newspapers even if some -if not all of- their works have disappeared; the second generation of women whose movies are in general only available in Film Archives in VHS or in 35mm format; the third generation, that started to work during the 1st wave feminist revolution and had to fight against a male dominated industry; the fourth generation —a larger group of women filmmakers who made critics start talking about a women's boom behind the camera, despite all kind of challenges and discrimination; and, finally, the fifth generation: the production of contemporary film directors who are more numerous and who are achieving recognition, but who are still outnumbered by male filmmakers in all countries.
The GynoCine Project offers the first comprehensive study of the history of women’s cinema from its origins to the present. By recovering a feminine presence behind the camera, this online database provides indispensable tools for rewriting the history of cinema, as well as the history of women. This project provides biographical information about these filmmakers and gives access to reviews of their films, journal and newspaper articles, to interviews and to a bibliography of scholarly works on the topic.
The Gynocine Project started in 2011, thank to a University of Massachusetts Digital Humanities Initiative seed grant. While currently it comprises materials almost exclusively on directors, it will be expanded, at a later stage, to include women in all aspects of film production, such as movie stars, scriptwriters and producers.
What is GynoCine
To overcome the limitations of the terms “feminine cinema,” “feminist cinema,” “cinema by women” or “women’s cinema,” and to respond to the crisis of naming in feminist film criticism denounced by B. Ruby Rich, Barbara Zecchi named this corpus “gynocine.” She argued that, first, the new term gynocine avoids the connotations that are implicit in the adjective “feminist” and displaces them from the text to my interpretation. In other words, she is the one who is engendering this corpus through her feminist perspective. Gynocine is not necessarily feminist, but its interpretation is. Second, this term avoids mere biological limitations (that are implicit in the adjective "female"), because in order to belong to gynocine a film doesn’t have to be directed by a cisgender woman. Gynocine includes the productions of queer and non-binary individuals and, if their scope is feminist, by individuals who identify as men. Third, if not all cinema is gynocine, and not all gynocine is feminist cinema, all films directed by women and LGBTI+ groups belong to gynocine, because all women and LGBTI+ groups, including those who explicitly distance themselves from feminism, cannot escape from a system of practices and institutions that discriminates against them. Finally, gynocine also includes other “authors” since movies aren’t just created by their director. A screenwriter, or even an actor, can be considered as an “author.”
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