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The Gendered Screen

Canadian Women Filmmakers

Brenda Austin-Smith and George Melnyk, editors

Film and Media Studies

Paper 282 pp.

ISBN13: 978-1-55458-179-5

Release Date: May 2010

Online discount: 25%

$36.99  $27.74


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This book is the first major study of Canadian women filmmakers since the groundbreaking Gendering the Nation (1999). The Gendered Screen updates the subject with discussions of important filmmakers such as Deepa Mehta, Anne Wheeler, Mina Shum, Lynne Stopkewich, Léa Pool, and Patricia Rozema, whose careers have produced major bodies of work. It also introduces critical studies of newer filmmakers such as Andrea Dorfman and Sylvia Hamilton and new media video artists.

Feminist scholars are re-examining the ways in which authorship, nationality, and gender interconnect. Contributors to this volume emphasize a diverse feminist study of film that is open, inclusive, and self-critical. Issues of hybridity and transnationality as well as race and sexual orientation challenge older forms of discourse on national cinema. Essays address the transnational filmmaker, the queer filmmaker, the feminist filmmaker, the documentarist, and the video artist—just some of the diverse identities of Canadian women filmmakers working in both commercial and art cinema today.

Brenda Austin-Smith is an associate professor in the Department of English, Film and Theatre at the University of Manitoba. She writes about melodrama, Canadian cinema, weeping and cinema memory, Henry James, and adaptations. She is a past president of the Film Studies Association of Canada and sits on the editorial board of the Canadian Journal of Film Studies.

George Melnyk is an associate professor of Canadian studies and film studies in the Faculty of Communication and Culture, University of Calgary. He is a cultural historian who specializes in Canadian cinema. Among his film publications are One Hundred Years of Canadian Cinema (2004) and Great Canadian Film Directors (2007). Most recently he has published The Young, the Restless, and the Dead: Interviews with Canadian Filmmakers (2008) in the Film and Media Studies series at WLU Press.


The Gendered Screen is a much-needed update that surveys the recent developments and contemporary field of Canadian women’s cinema.... An especially significant dimension of this collection is the attention to filmmakers whose work has been largely neglected by critics and scholars.... The essays together ... address a wide cross-section of women’s media production in this country. They examine the specificities of different regional contexts and address a variety of media approaches, from experimental film and video to independent features, television, and documentary production. More significant, the book investigates feminist and Canadian cinema beyond counter-cinema forms and art house aesthetics, respectively. The studies here attend to women producers not only working within the mainstream entertainment cinema but also presenting women-centered narratives and using humour as a means of critique. They demonstrate how the commercial sector, traditional women’s genres, and comedy can function as sites of resistance that express feminist attitudes and politicized positions. In this way, The Gendered Screen expands the definitions of both feminist and Canadian cinema, contributing significantly to scholarship in both fields.”

— Sylvie Jasen, H-Net Reviews

The Gendered Screen expands the discursive space for scholarly engagement with women filmmakers in a predominantly masculinist terrain. The contributors provide fresh approaches to filmmakers of the canon and give solid first starts on filmmakers who had previously been left out of the picture of Canadian cinema studies.”

— Susan Lord, Film and Media, Queen’s University, co-editor with Janine Marchessault of Fluid Screens, Expanded Cinemas (2007), and with Annette Burfoot, Killing Women: The Visual Culture of Gender and Violence (WLU Press, 2006)

“The uniform excellence of insight and writing, the variety of critical approaches, and the range from unfamiliar to established artists (and critics) make this a substantial, groundbreaking study.”

— M. Yacowar, emeritus, University of Calgary, Choice

The Gendered Screen: Canadian Women Filmmakers is an important contribution to Canadian film studies, ensuring the centrality and significance of Canadian women’s contribution to filmmaking. This new collection of essays tackles the intersections of film authorship, gender and nation, and while these terms may be undergoing challanges as organized principles for the study of film, as the editors note in the introduction, they ‘had not lost their troublesome fascination for us as teachers and scholars of film.’ The editors refrain, however, from employing any rigid definitions, encouraging the debates and tensions that arise from the various usages of these potentially vexing terms to shape the anthology. A wide range of filmmakers, regions, and filmmaking practices is covered, and this expansiveness is easily the book’s greatest strength.... An ambitious volume that covers a lot of ground. Many of the essays function as excellent introductions to a filmmaker’s work and are easily adaptable to course curricula while also yielding some new insights and approaches to Canadian women’s cinema.”

— Liz Czach, Canadian Literature