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WHAT IS GYNOCINE (by Barbara Zecchi)

During my years at the University of Massachusetts, I have dedicated myself to an extensive study of the entire — but still limited — corpus of Spanish women filmmakers. To overcome the limitations of the terms “feminine cinema,” “feminist cinema,” “cinema by women” or “women’s cinema,” and to respond to the crisis of naming in feminist film criticism denounced by Ruby Rich, I named this corpus “gynocine.” I argue that, first, the new term gynocine avoids the connotations that are implicit in the adjective “feminist” and displaces them from the text to my interpretation. In other words, I am the one who is engendering this corpus through my feminist perspective. Gynocine is not necessarily feminist, but its interpretation is. Second, this term avoids mere biological limitations (that are implicit in the adjective "female"), because in order to belong to gynocine a film doesn’t have to be directed by a woman. It can be also “authored” by a man, if its scope is gynocentric and feminist. Third, if not all cinema is gynocine, and not all gynocine is feminist cinema, all films directed by women belong to gynocine, because all women, including those who explicitly distance themselves from feminism, cannot escape from a system of practices and institutions that discriminates in terms of sex-gender. Finally, gynocine also includes other “authors” since movies aren’t just created by their director. A screenwriter, or even an actor, can be considered as an  “author.”


Funded by a University of Massachusetts Digital Humanities Initiative seed grant, the goal of this project directed by BARBARA ZECCHI is to launch and develop an open access online database on the History of Spanish Cinema by Women. The primary outcome of this project is offer unique resources related to the production of  women directors in Spain: the first generation of filmmakers who worked before and during the Second Republic (the silent era) and whose movies have disappeared, but who have left a significant trace through documents, photographs, film posters and reviews in film journals and in newspapers; the second generation of women who worked during the Franco regime, who suffered censorship and exile and whose movies are only available in the Film Archives in Madrid in VHS or in 35mm format; the third generation who started to work during the Transition to democracy (i.e. Pilar Miró, Josefina Molina and Cecilia Bartolomé); the fourth generation --a larger group of women filmmakers who made critics talk about a women's boom behind the camera-- and finally the fifth generation: the production of contemporary film directors. The database, at this initial stage, illustrates the socio-historical context of the life of these filmmakers, provide their biographical information, give access to their work (or what it is left of it), to reviews, journal and newspaper articles, to interviews and to a bibliography of scholarly works on the topic. 

This online database will offer the first comprehensive study of the history of Spanish women’s cinema from its origins to the present. By recovering a feminine presence behind the camera, this online database provides indispensable tools for rewriting the history of Spanish cinema, as well as the history of Spanish women. While the database will initially comprise materials primarily on female directors, I believe it could be expanded, at a later stage of my project, to include women in all aspects of film production, such as movie stars, scriptwriters and producers.


Do you want to get involved in this project? Please e-mail Barbara Zecchi

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