Actress Delphine Seyrig (1932–1990) and artist and film-maker Carole Roussopoulos (1945–2009) revitalised the post-1968 feminist movement in France by way of their intensive and pioneering work in video, tearing down, with joy and caustic incision in equal measure, the passive roles attached to women in the 1960s and 1970s. This documentary, with two screenings in different sessions, reconstructs their story.
Delphine Seyrig was known, first and foremost, as one of the biggest actresses in 1960s and 1970s French cinema, playing the lead in films like Last Year at Marienbad (1961) and Muriel (1963), both by Alain Resnais; François Truffaut’s Stolen Kisses (1968); Luis Buñuel’s The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972) and The Day of the Jackal (1973), by Fred Zinnemann. From the early 1970s, Seyrig became an activist in the women’s liberation movement in France, leading her to unravel her image as a diva, question her profession as an actor and analyse how women’s performances in the film industry were restricted to a form of strictly male visual pleasure. Thus, she worked with film-makers that dismantled this voyeuristic relationship, for instance Chantal Akerman, Marguerite Duras and Ulrike Ottinger, and, with Carole Roussopoulos and translator Ioana Wieder, founded the collective Les Insoumuses (Defiant Muses), a neologism combining muse and defiance, the response of one of the first activist video collectives.
Les Insoumuses utilised new portable video technology to document the feminist movement’s protests in France in the 1960s and 1970s, and to question the representation of women in film and television, with short and trenchant videos reflected in this documentary. In 2009 Roussopoulos set in motion a documentary project on Seyrig, her fellow activist, which was cut short by her death just a few months later. This film is the continuation of that unfinished project by film-maker Callisto McNulty and features the collaboration of the Roussopoulos family.
Callisto McNulty. Delphine et Carole, insumusas
France and Switzerland, 2019, colour, original version in French and English with Spanish subtitles, digital archive, 70’
Session 1. Friday, 4 October 2019 – 7pm
With introduction and Q&A with Sophie de Hijes, producer of the film (Les Films de la Butte).
Session 2. Friday, 11 October 2019 – 7pm
Presentation by Cecilia Barriga, filmmaker and feminist activist.