Only Woman Movie Director (Boston Sunday Globe, 1928)

credits: Filmmuseum, Dorothy Arzner

„The world does take on a rather startling and sur­prising look when observed through the eyes of a skilled, talented, hard-working, learned and thoroughly unintimidated female“, stated Francine Parker in 1975 on an event by UCLA honoring the work of Dorothy Arzner. Directress Dorothy Arzner is one of the few female directors to have her way in Hollywood`s paternalistic film business.
At the beginning of the 19th century women were usually meant to do jobs that were traditionally connected with women: as script-girls, stylists, costume designers one could find women in filmbusiness but it became a task to find any female directors or executive producers.
Even Arzner started her career in the film industry in 1919 as a stenotypist for scripts, then became a cutter, later wrote scripts by herself and finally worked as a director. She created strong and independent characters for actors like Joan Crawford, Maureen O´Hara or Rosalind Russel and her films are precise analyses of society, uncovering coherences of class and gender in a paternalistic society.
Just get clear that only two years ago (!) the first female director was honored by Hollywood`s film industry, which was and obviously is predominated by chauvinist male-networks: in 2010 for the first time ever the Oscar went to a female director (Kathryn Bigelow). Unsurprisingly, Dorothy Arzner who wasn`t only female but also homosexual and interested in the unconventional representation of women can hardly be found in any theory standards.
Until April 7, 2011 the Filmmuseum in Vienna is screening a retrospective of Dorothy Arzner`s oeuvre which is accompanied by a lecture of film theorist Andrea B. Braidt and a (Skype) talk with Arzner`s biographer Judith Mayne that`ll take place on March 30, 2011.

Dorothy Arzner Retrospective
March 16 – April 7, 2011
Filmmusem, Vienna

TIP: March 30, 2011, 7 p.m.: lecture (in German) by Andrea B. Braidt (Senior Scientist at Institute for Theatre-, Film- and Media Theory at University of Vienna): “Dorothy`s Tricks. Strategies of Subversion, Affirmation and Transgression in Arzner`s films.” Afterwards: screening of “Get Your Man” (1927, Fragment).

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