25 films: how to see gender

We asked two campers, filmmakers Bishakha Datta and Nancy Schwartzman, to create a list of films they would show if they had to teach a course on gender.  As this list was growing, a couple of our Tactical Tech colleagues also got involved and added their suggestions as well.

12 Years a Slave [Steve McQueen, 2013]
In the antebellum United States, Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery.

After Tiller [Martha Shane, 2013]
After the assassination of Dr. George Tiller in Kansas in 2009, there are a limited number of doctors left in the country who provide third-trimester abortions for women. After Tiller moves between the rapidly unfolding stories of these doctors, all of whom were close colleagues of Dr. Tiller, and are fighting to keep this service available in the wake of his death.

A Ma Soeur!  [Catherine Breillat, 2001]
This is a provocative and shocking drama about sibling rivalry, family discord and relationships. Elena is 15, beautiful and flirtatious. Her less confident sister, Anais, is 12, and constantly eats.

Belle de Jour [Luis Buñuel, 1967]
A frigid young housewife decides to spend her midweek afternoons as a prostitute.

Blue Is The Warmest Colour [Abdellatif Kechiche, 2013]
This year’s highest award winner at Cannes. Adele’s life is changed when she meets Emma, a young woman with blue hair, who will allow her to discover desire, to assert herself as a woman and as an adult. In front of others, Adele grows, seeks herself, loses herself, finds herself.

Boys Don’t Cry [Kimberly Peirce, 1999]
Based on the real life of Brandon Teena, a young transman,  and his struggle for freedom, love and individuality despite the violence around him.

Divorce, Iranian Style [Kim Longinotto and Ziba Mir-Hosseini, 1998]
Hilarious, tragic, stirring, this fly-on-the-wall look at several weeks in an Iranian divorce court provides a unique window into the intimate circumstances of Iranian women’s lives.

Don Jon [Joseph Gordon-Levitt, 2013]
A New Jersey guy dedicated to his family, friends, and church, develops unrealistic expectations from watching porn and works to find happiness and intimacy with his potential true love.

Gloria [Sebastián Lelio, 2013]
A story set in Santiago and centered on Gloria, a free-spirited older woman, and the realities of her whirlwind relationship with a former naval officer whom she meets out in the clubs.

Inshallah Dimanche [Yamina Benguigui, 2001]
The story of an immigrant woman struggling against old world traditions. Zouina leaves her homeland with her three children to join her husband in France, where he’s been living for the past ten years. In a land and culture foreign to her, Zouina struggles against her mother-in-law’s tyrannical hand and her husband’s distrustful bitterness in an attempt to adjust to her life in exile.

Les Silences Du Palais [Moufida Tlatli, 1994] 
As she grows up, Alia (the daughter of housemaid Khedija) learns the secrets of the peaceful palace where she and her mother live.

Made in India [Rebecca Haimowitz and Vaishali Sinha, 2010]
About the human experiences behind the phenomena of ‘outsourcing’ surrogate mothers to India.

Ma Vie En Rose [Alain Berliner, 1997]
Ludovic is a young boy who can’t wait to grow up to be a woman. When his family discovers the little girl blossoming in him they are forced to contend with their own discomfort and the lack of understanding from their new neighbors. Their anger and impatience cave and Ludovic is sent to see a psychiatrist in the hopes of fixing whatever is wrong with him. A movie that addresses trans-gender issues through the eyes of a child.

No! The Rape documentary [Aishah Shahidah Simmons, 2006]
Trailer for award-winning, ground-breaking documentary, explores the international reality of rape and other forms of sexual assault through the first person testimonies, scholarship, spirituality, activism and cultural work of African-Americans. See the No! The Rape documentary website here.

Orlando [Sally Potter, 1992]
Young nobleman Orlando is commanded by Queen Elizabeth I to stay forever young. Miraculously, he does just that, changing genders over centuries.

Paradies: Liebe [Ulrich Seidl, 2012]
On the beaches of Kenya they’re known as “Sugar Mamas” – European women who seek out African boys selling love to earn a living.

Paris is Burning [Jennie Livingston, 1990]
A chronicle of New York’s drag scene in the 1980s, focusing on balls, ‘voguing’ and the ambitions and dreams of those who gave the era its warmth and vitality.

Paroma [Aparna Sen, 1984]
a 40-year-old married woman, Paroma who falls in love with Rahul, an expatriate photo-journalist working for glossy magazines who photographs her making her look glamorous.

Sib [Samira Makhmalbaf, 1998]
After twelve years of imprisonment by their own parents, two sisters are finally released by social workers to face the outside world for the first time.

Sin by Silence [Olivia Klaus, 2009]
Inside the California Institution for Women, the first inmate-initiated and led group in the U.S. prison system, shatters the misconceptions of domestic violence. Against the system and against the odds, the women of Convicted Women Against Abuse have risen to expose the stigma of the cycle of domestic violence.

Sweetie [Jane Campion, 1989]
The film explores sisters, in their twenties, their parents and family dysfunctions.

Thelma & Louise [Ridley Scott, 1991]
An Arkansas waitress and a housewife shoot a rapist and take off in a ’66 Thunderbird.

The Line [Nancy Schwartzman, 2009]
A one night stand far from home turns into a sexual nightmare. As the filmmaker unravels her experience, she decides to confront her attacker. A documentary film examining boundaries and sexual consent. Visit the Where is Your Line page here.

Water [Deepa Mehta, 2005]
The film examines the plight of a group of widows forced into poverty at a temple in the holy city of Varanasi.

XXY [Lucía Puenzo, 2007]
This is the dramatic story of a intersexed 15-year-old. She lives with her parents, who have to cope with the challenges of her medical condition.