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Arts and Performance

Sex and Power: The Visual Language of Oppression

October 27, 2020 at 2:00pm3:00pm EDT

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Live Zoom Webinar

Pioneering feminist filmmaker Nina Menkes presents her acclaimed live talk previously presented at Cannes Film Festival. In it she investigates the techniques used by Hollywood cinema to reinforce a culture of misogyny.
As the Harvey Weinstein’s scandal broke in 2017, Menkes published an article titled “The Visual Language of Oppression: Harvey Wasn’t Working in a Vacuum” Filmmaker Magazine. It went viral.  In the article, she exposes the relationship between conventions of visual culture and the culture of sexual predation and victim-blaming in Hollywood.

The Wexner Center describes the lecture like this: “Using film clips from the golden age of Hollywood to the present (including films by Martin Scorsese, Spike Lee, Alfred Hitchcock, and many others), she shows how ideas about women have become unconsciously embedded in our heads by the visual language of cinema—through lighting, framing, camera angles, and movement—and how these contribute to sexual intimidation and discrimination.”

Maria Giese, Director, Women’s Media Summit, says  “Nina Menkes blows the cover off the systematic undermining of female empowerment in one of our culture’s most influential forms of media.

Menkes’s honors include a Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, an AFI Independent Filmmaker Award, a Creative Capital Award and a Berlinale FIPRESCI Prize for the feature documentary MASSAKER. In 2011, her feature film THE BLOODY CHILD (1996) was named one of the most important films of the past 50 years by the Viennale International Film Festival, Austria.

Two of Menkes’s early feature films, QUEEN OF DIAMONDS and THE BLOODY CHILD have been selected for restoration by the Academy Film Archive and Scorsese’s Film Foundation.  The re-release of QUEEN OF DIAMONDS in 2019, by Arbelos Film distribution, was a hit, being widely described as “a modern masterpiece”.

Menkes holds an MFA in Film Production from UCLA, is a two-time Fulbright Fellow to the Middle East and is a member of the film faculty at at California Institute of the Arts.


2012 NYT Review A Cinematic Sorceress of the Self by Dennis Lim

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This event was first published on October 22, 2020 and last updated on October 26, 2020.

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