The Ex-centric: Women Directors of the Other Europe

The eye of the camera often focuses on the ‘Other’ to shed light on that which is unfamiliar or unknown. The lens draws into the world of the viewer those elements that are distant or alien. Films, in turn, provide the stories through which these new elements take on familiar form. But what happens when the ‘Other’ takes over the eye of the camera? How do we see the world through the point of view of what usually stands on the periphery?

In this film series we explore what happens when two great ‘Others’ of cinema sit behind the camera lens. Women and the ex-Soviet block. Each film in this series shows us how women film directors from Czechoslovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Russia tell stories from across the divide of gender and geopolitics. The films in the series show how two generations of women film directors from the ‘other’ Europe have tackled story telling in cinema on the most improbable subject matters by experimenting with traditional filmic forms and narrative canons.

In these films a subversion of the traditional role of the gaze is reflected in the destabilization of any categorization principle, be it genre or form. From the point of view of genre, several of the films deftly navigate the space between the fictional and the real, the biographical and the fantastic. When it comes to form, several of these films opt for experimental montage sequences, striking camera angles and unconventional use of sound, be it dialogue or soundtrack. Yet, one thing unites them. All ten film-directors challenge our convictions about the identity of storytellers and the worlds they are supposed to memorialize. With each film we go one step deeper into the maze that lies between us and the ‘Other’.

- Gabriella Ferrari and Elizaveta Mankovskaya