C. GOURIDASAN NAIR
`Woman with a Video Camera' examines how the movie camera looks at a woman.
How does the movie camera look at the female body? How does it create meanings? What does it mean to be looked at? How does the way the camera sees the female body turn into the technological manifestation of the male gaze that entraps women?
These questions bring to the fore the whole process of looking and being looked at from a gender perspective. An attempt to raise these questions and juxtapose them with the radical possibilities of the video camera has been made by journalist-turned documentary maker J. Geetha in her `Woman with a Video Camera'.
It is an experiment in montage, clearly inspired by the 1928 Russian classic by Dzigo Vertov `Man with a Movie Camera.' It was a fascinating combination of image building and nation building and showed the cameraman as a heroic participant in the currents of Soviet life. The film gave an extraordinary glimpse into the lives, work and play of the Russian people through the man with a movie camera who leaves the film factory and enters life, to take the "movie camera to its socialist post."
`Woman with a Video Camera' follows the dawn to dusk convention while recording unpredictable images - happy faces of women undaunted by the manly camera, mundane gloominess of their everyday life, celebration of women's labour that is often forgotten, damnation of their enclosed world... .
This is juxtaposed with the woman/model/actress fleeing the fixation of the movie camera, the male gaze of our society. Her angst, fear and paranoia lead her to a lonely world where space can be reclaimed only by retaliation.
The film ends with a sequence where the woman in front of the camera falls to aggression and is reclaimed by the woman with the video camera, who herself is unlearning the grammar of moving images.
Geetha's directorial debut has been selected for the international documentary competition section of the `Festival Internazionale Cinema delle Donne,' the International Women's Film Festival of Turin, Italy. The director has been invited as an official guest to the festival to be held from October 7 to 14. The documentary had been premiered at the International Panorama of Independent Filmmakers, held in Athens, Greece, from September 25 to October 1.
`Woman with a Video Camera' is without dialogues, bringing into play a rich and complex musical score that transforms a docu-psychodrama into visual poetry. Music is by the renowned edakka artiste Ajayan Namboodiri. The film's only fictional character is played by well-known actress Jyothirmayee. Camera work is by Sunny Joseph and Geetha J while editing is by B. Ajithkumar.
For the last two years, Geetha has been dividing her time between Kerala and Brighton in the United Kingdom, where she lectures on cinema occasionally at the University of Sussex.
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