Local film club to explore work from female directors

Gerard Amsellem will lead a film series highlighting female directors.

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — For both seasoned viewers of classic films and those who enjoy social commentary from unique sources, there is something for everyone in the newest film series focusing on female directors at “La Cinematheque Film Club,” hosted by South Orange filmmaker Gerard Amsellem at the South Orange Performing Arts Center and the South Orange Public Library.

The series is a chronology of pictures directed by women from around the world and produced between 1962 and the present. It will explore the social, economic and political aspects of each director’s home country and the cinematic language of the female filmmaker. Each screening will be followed by a discussion about the different messages and viewpoints of the director, her impact on the world of cinema and on the lives of women from various cultures.

The films to be shown at SOPAC include: “Cleo De 5 A 7” on Sept. 24, directed by Agnes Varda of France; “Seven Beauties” on Oct. 15, directed by Lina Wertmuller of Italy; “Europa-Europa” on Nov. 12, directed by Agnes Holland of Poland; and “Take My Eyes” on Dec. 17, directed by Iciar Bollain of Spain. The films to be shown at the South Orange Public Library include “Lost in Translation” on Oct. 26, directed by Sofia Coppola of the United States, and “Mustang” on Nov. 30, directed by Deniz Gamze Erguven of Turkey.

At a time in the current social climate when issues around gender equality are being examined more critically, Amsellem’s newest film series adds to the conversation around the contributions of women to the film industry.

“I had been doing film series focused on specific countries or directors from specific regions of the world, and I realized that I was always choosing films directed by men,” Amsellem said in a recent phone interview with the News-Record. “I did some research and found that only about 10 percent of films are directed by women. The film industry is a system that really supports men and I felt that works that these women created were fantastic and deserved to be recognized.”

Amsellem said he was also inspired by Sofia Coppola’s recent historic at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, where she became the second woman — and the first American woman — in the festival’s 70-year history to receive the Best Director Award for her film “The Beguiled.”

Contributing to the film commentary will be Francesca Degiuli, a sociology professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University, whose academic interests frequently focus on the role of gender in societal issues.

“My background includes a doctorate degree in sociology, and a great deal of my work and research is in gender studies,” Degiuli said in a recent phone interview with the News-Record. “I recently published a book over the summer titled ‘Caring for a Living: Migrant Women, Aging Citizens and Italian Families’ that examines the role of immigrant labor, and looks at the role of immigrant women in solving societal problems, particularly aging, in Europe.”

Degiuli also said that her background in documentary filmmaking made taking part in the discussions around this film series even more relevant for her.

“My interest in films also informs my understanding about cultures of the world, and documentaries are a critical part of my teaching methods,” she said. “Film is very close to the social sciences in the sense that they provide very strong analysis of society in terms of gender, social class and the power of economics.”

Questions about La Cinematheque Film Club can be directed to Gerard Amsellem at linguavision@gmail.com. For more information on the film series and how to purchase tickets, visit http://www.newwavesproductions.org/.