TIFF ’19: ‘Portrait Of A Lady On Fire’ Is A Perfect Example of the Female Gaze

The male gaze is a term often used to address and critique how male directors use the camera to portray the female body as a site/sight of desire. The term, coined by Laura Mulvey, has grown and changed over the decades to address shifting genres, new mediums, and the growth of female directors. But, the question then emerges, what about the female gaze? Is there such a thing if hegemonic ideas of film are governed by patriarchy? Celine Sciamma’s Portrait of a Lady On Fire answers that question with a loud, resounding yes.

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Teenage Euphoria in Céline Sciamma’s ‘Girlhood’

As teenagers, music often plays a pivotal role in our lives. While an adult identity gradually begins to take shape, music sonically illustrates the ever-growing complexity of our emotional lives, giving voice to our desires and insecurities and helping us to make sense of the world around us. Brought to life on the silver screen through pounding beats, glossy visuals and naturalistic movements, Céline Sciamma’s third feature-length film, Bande de Filles (titled Girlhood in English) reaches through the screen, encouraging its spectator to recall and connect to these sensations themselves.

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Female Director Spotlight: The minimalist observations of Céline Sciamma

Adolescence is an important time for all of us. It’s a rollercoaster of unexplainable emotions – emotions that often cannot be accurately captured in words. It’s the first time we feel attraction, discover sexuality, and explore romantic relationships. It’s a crossroads for all, but it can be especially painful for LGBTQ+ youth. While heterosexual and cisgender teenagers will see their own desires reflected in the rest of their community, their trans and same gender attracted counterparts can often experience the throes of adolescence in complete loneliness.

Much of French filmmaker Céline Sciamma’s work focuses on the unique conflicts of adolescent life. Her camera juxtaposes the joy of new maturity with a fear of the unknown, calmly recounting the stories of strikingly individual characters. Her work is best watched collectively, for maximum appreciation of her minimal style, but if you’re looking for somewhere to start, take a look at the summaries below.

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