NH Tit-Bits
21 July 2011
Breien, a fighting feminist? It's a misunderstanding, the director responds

We recommend the interview by Janusz Wróblewski in the latest issue of the Polityka weekly (no. 30, 20 - 26.07.2011) with the hero of this year's retrospective - Norwegian Anją Breien.

Janusz Wróblewski: Many of your films deal with the motif of exclusion, a woman's difficult role in a paternalistic society. Is the problem still valid?

Anja Breien: The women's point of view differs from that of men. It is very hard to describe it, it's much easier to feel it. At school, apart from Leni Riefenstahl's propaganda documentaries, we were shown no films made by women. I felt like a childless mother with a crowd of fantastic fathers. New wave artists who succeeded in that age were not really concerned with the psychology of women. Their works were rather egocentric displays of authors obsessively idolising their narrow, intellectual world. Stories showing a slightly different sensitivity were an exception. One of them was Night Train by Jerzy Kawalerowicz - one of the greatest dramas I saw at that time. It was the subject of my analysis in the first year of my studies. (...)

AB: Norwegian society was the most self-contained community of all the Scandinavian countries. The isolation finally ended in the age of counterculture. It was then that cultural barriers broke and the improved economic situation connected with discovery of oil began the madness of consumption. The true subject of Wives is the social conditions that force women to play certain roles, also sexual ones, which we begin to feel only after the established order is starting to collapse. (...)

JW: By making The Witch Hunt, a story about an intolerant rural community and the persecution of an intelligent, independent woman in the 17th century, or Arven, an Ibsen-style film about a magnate ruling his divided family from the grave, did you yet again support your movement of fighters for women's rights?

AB: You really want to pigeonhole me as a fighting feminist but this is a misunderstanding. As years go by one's views change. It is hard for me to nowadays treat the men-women rivalry as a battle of the sexes or struggle for sexual domination. The social situation has also changed completely. Paradoxically, it is harder for female directors to make it to the top now than it was in the 1960s.

(more in the printed issue of Polityka, Janusz Wróblewski, Najważniejsze: robić filmy [The most important thing: to make films])

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