Category Archives: Film

Il Corpo delle Donne- ‘Women’s Bodies’ but where are women’s voices? By Joanna Brown

The representation of women in Italian television has been widely discussed over the past thirty years; notably as part of the larger debate over women’s position within the media. The controversial power division within the Italian media, especially TV channels, forms the backdrop to the recent light shed on this subject.  Lorella Zanardo’s 2009 documentary “Il Corpo delle Donne” is said to confront the representation of women in the Italian media.  Zanardo stated that her motivation behind the project was to educate and change the younger generation.  To offer a different insight into perceiving women beyond the television screen.  However, could it be that as much as Zanardo’s documentary is true and eye-opening, it lacks room for exceptions and tends to generalize and make martyrs of women who may be very conscious, of what they are doing and actually enjoy their position and role within the media?

In Italy,  women’s presence in TV and how they are represented creates a great diversity of opinions. Sergio Rodrigez, group creative director at the advertising agency Leo Burnett Italy, referring to the excessive presence of women in advertisements, confirms that “in Italy when you don’t have to use women, you use women.”

Women have a tendency to be placed at the centre of media discourses. Yet, the representation of women has historically been noted as contradictory and double-standardised, emulated through virgin/whore binaries. Where have these perceptions stemmed from and why have they come about?  How have these factors influenced today’s representation of women and does Zanardo’s documentary take these into account whilst criticising Italian TV?

Through her documentary, Zanardo creates a montage of various Italian TV programmes which she analyses and critiques with the help of her own voice-over. One of the main issues that comes through her documentary are the talentless women who are used in television as decoration, simply to accompany men. By showing scenes of women sat at the feet of a table, and splashing around under a shower in a white dress, Zanardo wishes to highlight the objectification of women in such programmes.  It is essential to break this trend and re-educate the population through TV.

Another imposing issue which emerges from the documentary is the increase in plastic surgery which she claims replaces real women by masks.  Zanardo focuses on the need to constantly look younger, calling it a humiliation only imposed on women, not men.  A further concern of Zanardo’s which stimulated once more her wanting to create the project was the absence, if not the pollution, of female role models for younger women.

Zanardo stresses the impact of these images may have on girls who may “aspire to the role as a way to get rich quickly.” In reality, this fear of lack of role models can be reflected beyond the television screen. In an interview with Adrian Michaels (2007), 19-year-old student Caterina Preti compares young girls in Italy who “link beauty with success” and “still have the example of their mothers who don’t work” with their counterparts in the UK who are “much more determined, they are career-minded.” The idea of linking success with beauty which she very much disagrees with is at the centre of Zanardo’s argument.

As much as Zanardo’s documentary was a necessary cry for attention and has served many purposes, I wish to argue that it is insufficient in presenting the situation of women in TV in Italy, rather generalised and in somewhat one sided and suffering from ‘tunnel vision’. Zanardo passes over essential representations present in Italian TV and seems to ignore the fact that the roles women tend to be placed in may be a consequence of deeper meaning rooted within their culture. Furthermore, it could even be suggested that these women may enjoy their positions and representations, embracing their identity through their physical appearance and attributes.

Luciana Litizetto is a famous Italian comedian who does not fit into the categories of women Zanardo denounces. Her latest monologue at the San Remo Festival (14th February 2013) saw her giving an alternative vision into Italian women’s media discourse rather than objectified women under glass tables. Litizetto’s monologo sull’amore proclaimed her support for homosexual rights (SR 06’01), sarcastically listed reasons why women love men (SR 02’40) (thus confirming her position as a female comedienne), and demanded respect for all women (SR 06’45) as an act of support against violence against women: “un uomo che ci mena, non ci ama” (SR 07’22). Litizetto represents a free-spirited woman who is not afraid to publicly speak her mind “un uomo che ti picchia è uno stronzo” (SR 08’17). At the end of her speech, in which she is informally seated on the stage, Litizetto, wrinkles and all, stands up and joins a group of women who start dancing as part of a flashmob “contro la violenza contro le donne” (SR 08’30). In contrast to other comparable instances, for example in L’Eredità where women interrupt the show to dance around wearing barely any clothes, these women are dressed and are dancing for a cause.

In addition, some women enjoy their position of femininity. The patriarchal sexist media hierarchy that Zanardo depicts in her documentary, is not as one sided as she suggests. Zanardo seems to make a generalisation about how women are represented. Danielle Hipkins claims that “the argument that these young women do not know their own minds and need re-education is more than redolent of paternalistic, puritanical attitudes towards female sexuality”  Furthemore, the writer Lazar has explored and defined this phenomena as “’power femininity’” in which self-objectification is not an indicator of the power of cultural expectations about how women should look, but in fact a strategy of “empowerment.” In fact, Zanardo’s portrayal of women in TV, conforming to such aesthetical standards, could be seen as an attack.

Continuing with the causes of such representation, Adrian Michaels explores deeper cultural effects which may influence women’s positions within society. In his  2007 article, Michaels calls up upon many different powerful women’s opinions, notably Laura Frati Gucci, head of Aidda the Italian association of top women managers and entrepreneurs, “Women in Italy are held back not by chauvinism but by rules and customs that inhabit their participation in work.”” Gucci explains how mothers complain about the lack of nurseries. Mario Draghi, the governor of the bank of Italy, confirms that “better designed policies to support families would have raising female employment rates. ” Michaels even demonstrates how “one female criminal lawyer (who prefers not to be named) argues that the lack of recognition of a modern woman’s needs is even visible in hospital obstetrics units.” This same anonymous lawyer estimates “that 10 per cent of women in her profession dress sexily because it is a weapon and because they like it.” Graziella Parati, head of comparative literature at Dartmouth College, claims that “television is still in the hands of men” but also that “women have bought into male paradigms of what femininity is, so they pay particular attention to their appearance; but they have also grown up in a country full of art and beauty and their attention to aesthetics in general can come from that.” From the wide range of opinions expressed by these women, we can see that women’s position in society is ambiguously controlled by social structures and services. In this respect, it could be suggested that before TV representation can be changed, more structural work needs to be done in order to better encourage women to `fight back’.

It is indisputable that Zanardo’s work has been essential in drawing Italian media discourse to the attention of its viewers regarding women’s role and representation. However, Zanardo, lacking crucial feminist critical knowledge and neglecting other sociological aspects of Italian culture, generalises the effects and the causes of such images of Italy’s population.

Women do have a choice, and if they do not voice their discontent it is not a simple question of whether or not they are willing to do so.

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BTC’s film review of 2013 by Susie Taylor

So, it’s the time again for reviews of the year. Granted Buzzfeed most definitely has the monopoly on adorable puppies and twerking dogs but this year you shall also be greeted by my film review of  2013. Oh joy of joys for all you readers. When given the task I became completely flummoxed, the same way I do during pub quizzes when I know I know the answer, so I thought I’d try something a little different. Below is a list of my favourite films of the year (standard), my disappointments of the year (a ha a little bit different), the films I’m disappointed in myself for not having gone to seen and what to look out for end of December/beginning of 2014. Now this is not the ultimate, Empire approved, make everyone happy list so please don’t hate me if I’ve trashed your favourite or didn’t even watch the film that made your year….despite my nerdiness I have conceded that I am not a film Yoda and the ones I didn’t watch….I graduated and got a job in the last six months, sue me!


BEST (in no particular order)


Gravity- Oh Sandra, you wonderful woman. The acting was amazing, the music aggravated me but the visual effects blew my mind. Not a film to watch a second time but for sheer visual intensity, I don’t think anything can beat this film in 2013.

Mud- For years I have had a respect and love for Matthew McConaughey that was judged by all, Mud had such an epic performance from him that all those who judged before are now just loving him as I have for so long. The two young boys performance was indicative of the film, unsentimental yet moving.

Black Rock- a random little film written by Mark Duplass (who starred in Your Sister’s Sister that everyone should definitely check out) and directed by Katie Aselton who stars alongside Kate Bosworth and Lake Bell. It’s a good little thriller that stood out just for having damn good performances, keeping me on edge and for having practical solutions to problems.

In a world- Lake Bell’s second entry on the list was a comedy that she wrote, directed and starred in about a voice over artist that tries to fill her father’s shoes when she auditions for a new “in a world…” spot. It’s got great humour and says a lot about women trying to fit in to a previously man’s world. Also a great Geena Davis cameo at the end.

Bachelorette- A little bit of a controversial choice but I haven’t stopped watching this film since it came out in August. A film with Kirsten Dunst, Lizzy Caplan and Isla Fisher about how the people who know you best can sometimes be your worst enemies. It has the complexities of friendships, many hilarious moments and isn’t afraid to let its main characters be absolute b**** faces.

The Conjuring- Most horror movies are rubbish, it’s just fact. However this one by James Wan had subtlety right up until the end. The fact that a film that doesn’t have anything jumping out at you for at least an hour had me not sleeping for well over a week gives it a place on the list.

Prisoners- Fantastic performances for all involved and a good twist that I didn’t see coming. This one was a simple choice as it was just quality all round.

Stoker-This might be one of the creepiest films I have ever seen. It tells the story of a girl whose father has just passed away. Living with her cold, cruel mother, suddenly her long lost uncle comes out of the woodwork and people start disappearing. It’s a wonderful homage to Shadow of a doubt but adds an extra level through the young girl’s growing interest in how these people have disappeared. I haven’t explained it as good as the trailer will but this is a beautiful film. The sets and costumes lend it an air of old country house and the script reads like a wonderful 3 hand play. A must see.

The Heat- I’m sure this film has it’s issues however to me this is just fricking HILARIOUS. At a time when all me and my mother needed to do was laugh, this film provided that for two straight hours. It’s a wonderful double act and the two actresses just riff off each other with joy. I can’t wait to see what they do next.

Philomena- This is in the top five. What sounds like a sentimental melodramatic British drama actually is a wonderfully written character piece with excellent performances. I was impressed with Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope’s script which finds the humour in a sad situation, but it always seems natural. In it’s discussion of religion among other subjects it is extremely nuanced and kept me thinking for days afterwards.

Blackfish- a documentary that certainly has it’s flaws (the chronology can sometimes be off) however it’s a shocking piece that deserves to be seen. I should dislike it as it put me off my happy place (aquariums) but the captivity of creatures like orcas needs to stop and I hope that like The Invisible War provokes change.

The Impossible- This is overly sentimental yes, but the performances, especially from Tom Holland are fantastic and so for that reason it goes on the list. Tom Holland is one to watch.

West of Memphis- another documentary that got made last year but released in 2013 this is the story of three men wrongly accused of killing young boys in Arkansas in the 1990’s. They were tried and convicted mainly on the basis that they were different and since then people such as Peter Jackson and Johnny Depp have been fighting hard to free them. Amy Berg makes a damn good documentary and this film is informative, passionate without constantly preaching and makes you extremely angry at the failure of the justice system in cases such as this.

Side Effects- This is put on the list not for being the best film ever but more for being a good thrilling film with good actors and good twists that kept me guessing.

Enough Said- this might be the sweetest film I’ve seen all year. Watching this made me a hopeless romantic all over again. James Gandolfini is such a gentle giant and watching him and Julia Louis-Dreyfus work out the ins and outs of relationships that happen once you’ve been through marriage and divorce, was a lovely experience and one that I’d gladly repeat. It’s also got crackling humour and the chemistry between the two leads is palpable. It’s sad we lost Gandolfini too soon.



Les Miserables- I’m sorry, I know so many people loved this. I thought I would love it. I love most of the songs and yet the film. I was bored. I was bored by Hugh Jackman. Therefore it goes on the list.

The Great Gatsby- Once again I’m sorry. However I felt like Baz Luhrman was just given free rein and although the book is about decadence, in no way did the film need to be that out there, most of all it did not need to be in 3D. The music was great, Leonardo DiCaprio is fantastic but Carey Mulligan was miscast. However it’s not as bad as….

Drinking Buddies- this film sounded soooo good. Nick from New Girl, Olivia Wilde and Anna Kendrick (who I’m convinced that if we met we’d be best friends). Improvising a film about complex relationships. This should have been fantastic and yet made me want to sleep or just stop watching this awkward awkward film.

Only God Forgives- why was this film made? Drive was fantastic but like The Great Gatsby it seems like the director was given just enough rope to hang himself with. Even Kristin Scott Thomas couldn’t have saved this one.

Man of Steel- This film just took itself too seriously for a film about a man who dresses up in tights and a cape and can turn back time. Although for unintentional comedy it is the best film of the year. Henry Cavill looks the part, Michael Shannon is a great foe and Amy Adams was a damn good Lois Lane but the film was overlong and thought it was an epic rather than just enjoying the fact that it is a comic book film.



Upstream Colour

Spring Breakers

Short Term 12


Ain’t them bodies Saints

The East




12 Years a Slave


Life of Crime- no trailer as yet but it got good reviews at Toronto Film Festival and it’ll be nice to see Jennifer Aniston do something other than bad romantic comedies.


The F Word- no trailer either but sounds like a cute, slightly mumble core romantic film with Daniel Radcliffe about being placed in the friendzone.


The Double

The Congress

The Railway Man

A Case of You

Horns-the only clip that’s been released.

Very Good Girls- no trailer but it’s a coming of age story with two up and coming stars; Elizabeth Olsen and Dakota Fanning.


The Past

Gimme Shelter

We Are What We Are

The Dallas Buyer’s Club



Wolf of Wall Street

August: Osage County

Inside Llewyn Davis


And special mention to the worst named film of the year….drum roll please…..THE LAST EXORCISM PART 2. Erm, did the priest do it wrong, cancel, turn up on the wrong date?

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Lizzy Caplan is officially my new hero by Susie Taylor

Last week in the midst of my moving to London escapades I started to watch the new Showtime series Masters of Sex. Slightly irritating title aside it’s the story of William Masters and his partner Virginia Johnson who set about to unveil the truth about sex, the human body and emotions in 1950’s America. So far so similar to the 2004 film Kinsey. And it’s good, excellent in fact, Michael Sheen is always pretty damn good in my opinion, even in an Underworld film but the real gloriousness of this series is Lizzy Caplan, known to some as Janis Ian and loved by me in the greatly underrated film Bachelorette. Her character (even though Johnson was real let’s assume that there’s a bit of make believe in this series) opens up the series to so much more than how this investigation affected her male counterpart. She deals not only with the fact that she is a single working mother, and all the guilt that conservative America would have piled on her, but she is also a glittering example of the woman who refuses to confuse sex with love. In fact that idea is brought into the series by one of the male characters. Aaaah I’m sounding all tangled and I will probably write something more succinct in the future but oh well. This series is complex and left me thinking for days. It doesn’t assume anything about either gender more it is about each character and their opinion on sex and relationships. For me it feels like a breath of fresh air. And it has Janis Ian in it!Image

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TED women; two videos worth sharing.

TED have had some cracking talks from some amazing women recently.

If you have a spare half an hour, treat yourself to a couple of thought-provoking videos.

First up, we have Caroline Heldman. A leading advocate for spotlighting how the mainstream media contributes to the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence in America, Caroline Heldman offers straight talk and an often-startling look at the objectification of women in our society. She illustrates how it has escalated, how we have become inured to its damaging effects and what we can do individually and collectively to demolish the paradigms that keep us from a better world.

Cameron Russell admits she won “a genetic lottery”: she’s tall, pretty and an underwear model. But don’t judge her by her looks. In this fearless talk, she takes a wry look at the industry that had her looking highly seductive at barely 16-years-old. (Filmed at TEDxMidAtlantic.)

Enjoy! And keep them coming TED.

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Dirty Girls Documentary

If you’re a VICE reader then you might have seen recently their article with the original “Dirty Girls” Amber and Harper has gathered a lot of attention. I’d never heard about these girls before so I checked out the documentary on Youtube, which you can view here:

The documentary was shot in 1996 and edited in 2000 and it follows a group of 13-year-old riot grrrls in Los Angeles. We see them let loose in the dangerous and precarious environment that is secondary school, under the eyes of their peers. They are completely socially ostracized and degraded, gathering a lot of negative attention emphasizing how they “never wash.”

They distribute a zine which looks both creative, full of illustrations and poetry, and suitably angry. They’ve got some amazing and pretty valid points for 13 year old girls. Which is exactly the point they were trying to make. At one point in the documentary, Amber is asked how she can know her opinions are right seeing as she is still so young. Amber gets justifiably enraged,

“That is such bullshit. Anyone, at any age, can know that women are being raped… Of course we know, I know a lot of people who have been raped, I know a lot of people who have been sexually molested […] Anyone can know about rape, it doesn’t matter how old you are.”

I wish I was that fierce at school. I really do. There were plenty of things I was angry about. I felt like I didn’t really fit in either. But, I had none of the maturity or feminist force of these girls.  The Dirty Girls rule! Spot on, VICE.

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The Invisible War #NotInvisible

The documentary The Invisible War is not exactly what you would call easy viewing. Sitting down with my friend on a lazy hungover day, popcorn and daily milk ready- well, we knew we weren’t in for a fun-filled ride exactly. But, I don’t think we quite prepared ourselves for the raw shock of what we were about to see. Firstly, I’d urge everyone to see this if they have half the chance. Screen it, share it, even bloody stream it from the internet…  it needs to be seen to be believed.

The Invisible War is the film about how in the US Military today, a woman serving  is more likely to be raped by a fellow service member than to be killed in the line of fire. This is the army for the supposed leaders of the free world. I have no other words apart from what. the. actual. fuck.

And here are some more hard facts just to emphasize how bad it really all is, despite the “Zero Tolerance Policy” claimed by the Department of Defense-

  • Since 2006, more than 95,000 service members have been sexually assaulted in the U.S. military
  • More than 86% of service members do not report their assault
  • Less than five percent of all sexual assaults are put forward for prosecution, and less than a third of those cases result in imprisonment

Yet, despite all the numbers and figures what really resonated with me from the film was the stories of the victims. One poor lady was assaulted so bad that her jaw broke. She can’t even go outside and play with her daughter if it’s too cold in case it freezes.  One woman thought that hanging herself from a flag point would finally prove a point and make her voice be heard. They all went in to the army which such hope for the future, they all had their lives totally ripped apart.

We became so angry watching this that we were screaming at the screen, enraged.  The documentary also included interviews with high-ranking military officials and members of Congress . One of these spoke about the publicity plans for “rape prevention.” This followed a classic victim-blaming approach, urging the women to never be walking alone without a “buddy.” No one single word about how you know, it would be a good idea to teach humanity that raping people and breaking their sense of selves down to a pulp is, you know, a despicably awful unthinkable thing to do? No?

And it isn’t  just women , one percent of men in the military— nearly 20,000 men —were reportedly sexually assaulted in 2009.

And while rape victims in the civilian world can turn to an impartial police force and judicial system for help , rape victims in the military must turn to their commanders.  Many rape victims find themselves forced to choose between their careers and justice. Just eight percent of military sexual assault cases are prosecuted. Without prosecutions, it will just keep happening again and again and again.

Please, please take the time out to watch this film. It may not be pretty, but it is real and it is happening.  Have the popcorn, chocolate and tissues ready and then take action by signing this petition:

Raise awareness, sign and share.  This has gone on far too long.

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My great-grandmother would have been proud‏ from Helen Pankhurst

Sadly, due to being stuck hopelessly researching an essay in level-13 of the Edward Boyle Library at Leeds University, I was unable to attend UK Feminista’s land-mark Feminist Lobby of Parliament on the 24th of October. However, I followed the furore closely on Twitter and was both happy and surprised to find a lovely email by Dr Helen Pankhurst sitting snugly in my inbox. Stupidly enough, I have neglected my emails slightly so have only written this post today. But better late than never, eh? And yes, I know I am a part of UK Feminista’s mailing list but it was still a lovely [albeit slightly delayed] treat seeing that name ping up on the screen!

Just to clarify, Dr Helen Pankhurst is the great-granddaughter of the suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst.
A mere 106 years ago Emmeline lead a lobby to demand votes for women. And as her great-grandmother before her, Helen seems equally as determined and focused in the continual struggle for women’s rights, which remain ” as urgent and vital as ever. ”
Hundreds of women and men agreed with her, and marched through Westminster, singing, debating and making their voices heard. They called upon their MP’s  to listen and take urgent action. As I said, I wish I could have joined in- but I will just have to show my support online instead. . The lobby was featured on BBC News at Ten, Channel 4 News, CNN and Sky News – amongst many others. You can see a full round-up of media here.Just to clarify, Dr Helen Pankhurst is the great-granddaughter of the suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst.
A mere 106 years ago Emmeline lead a lobby to demand votes for women. And as her great-grandmother before her, Helen seems equally as determined and focused in the continual struggle for women’s rights, which remain ” as urgent and vital as ever. ”

And here we have a short but sweet 50-second clip of  the event-

And a UK Feminista film ‘Where are women’s voices?’ featuring interviews with experts from Unlock Democracy, Centre for Women and Democracy, Fawcett Society, TUC and Object discussing how why women’s voices are often silenced. This is one of four films in UK Feminista’s ‘Building a Feminist Future’ made in the run-up to the Lobby.

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“You Don’t Own Me” Mitt Romney!

So, in just three days we will discover who will be the next leader of the United States of America. I have already posted Sandra Fluke’s inspiring speech, in which she presents two very different futures that could impact American women. I know I am not an American woman, but I am hugely ware how the outcome of this election will have a huge impact on the rest of the world.

According to the “You don’t own me” PSA official site, in 2008, 60% of voters were women. It is estimated that 10 million more women than men will vote in this election. Despite this, women make up only 16% of Congress. Women earn only 70 cents to each dollar men make. Women of colour and undocumented women make less than white citizens. Mitt Romney and the Republican Party are determined to overturn Roe V. Wade. Romney has not supported equal pay for women (The Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act). Romney has vowed to defund Planned Parenthood. Romney has vowed to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Romney doesn’t want health care to cover birth control. Romney says same sex marriage should be banned with a Constitutional Amendment.

Now, this doesn’t sound like the kind of future I want for my American sisters. We should be moving forward, not stepping back.

Lesley Gore’s 1964 hit “You don’t own me” has been recreated with a political, anti-Mitt Romney twist. Lena Dunham from “Girls” along with Carrie Brownstein, Miranda July, Karen Elson, Leah Siegel, Alia Shawkat, Zoe Kravitz—and Gore herself all participate in the video, lip-syncing along with the lyrics. Gore says in a narrative after the singing, “I recorded ‘You Don’t Own Me’ in 1964 and it’s hard for me to believe we’re still fighting for the same things we were then. Yes, ladies, we’ve got to come together, get out there and vote, and protect our bodies. They’re ours. Please vote.”

<p><a href=”″>”You Don’t Own Me” PSA -Official</a> from <a href=”″>You Don’t Own Me</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

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We’ve come a long way, baby…

Bic have launched a new line of pens just for women. No, really. This hilarious video by Ellen completely shuts them down and takes the almighty piss out of them. I loved Ellen before, but I love her even more now. Laugh your way to a happy Sunday!

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TEDxWomen — Jennifer Siebel Newsom

Each and every one of us has the capacity for change.

Thank you Ms. Newsom, you are incredible.

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