This week’s photo theme is: Director’s Seat. Last month, well-known (male) Chinese film director Ding Taisheng made a controversial statement on Sina Weibo to the effect that “women can be great producers, but rarely directors.” (That’s a paraphrase from memory — his Weibo account, which had over 140,000 followers, has since been deleted.) In response, this week we’ll take a look behind the camera at the work of a few exemplary female filmmakers in China, past and present.
Today’s selection is a still from Girls Always Happy (柔情史), Beijing director Yang Mingming’s debut feature, which recently premiered in Berlin. An early review on film site Another Gaze explores the film’s core theme:
Girls Always Happy offers a searing and unapologetic look into how women are habitually positioned into mutually contradictory roles, and how their resultant emotional, material, and even existential dependence on men – acutely felt in modern China – place them in constant competition amongst other women in a way that can engender pettiness, smallness, and jealousy. We witness the paradoxical set-up of a social system that tells women to value male approval above all else and then calls them greedy, evil and jealous for trying to succeed in a world that does not allow any additional routes to greatness; “the ruling caste”, Simone de Beauvoir notes in 1949 in her landmark The Second Sex, has a tendency to “base its argument [about the inferiority of others] on the state of affairs it created itself.”
Read more about Girls Always Happy in our recent interview with Yang Mingming.