In Conversation with Deborah Shaw on The Daughters of Fire (Albertina Carri, Argentina, 2018.

If you want to see what a female gaze looks like, what queer cinema by women might feel like to see, what a combination of porn and poetry might evoke, have a look at Albertina Carri´s ‘The Daughters of Fire,’ currently playing on
@mubi.

Skyping with Deborah

‘it´s so sensational that I asked Professor Deborah Shaw, a specialist in Latin American cinema from the University of Portsmouth to join me in a discussion of this great film so we could mull it over together. We also discuss ‘Barbie también puede eStar triste/ Barbie can also be sad’, an extraordinary stop-motion queer short using Barbie dolls to dissect and critique gender under patriarchy. The two films together are proof of a major new voice in world cinema, one worth watching and talking about. The Barbie film can be accessed freely on Carri’s Vimeo channel by clicking on this link.

In the podcast we discuss how female-centric The Daughters of Fire is and how unusual that is in cinema. It´s a film about women, 95% of the cast and crew were female, and the  film seems deliberately designed for a female gaze.  Its success is evident by how we both felt: as if we were seeing something new, something  we´d never seen before.

We discuss the film in relation to pornography. Can it void patriarchal norms? Can porn be rendered poetic and what would that look and feel like? Does the film succeed? The film defies many norms. Scenes that might not seem so unusual in an interior urban metropolitan setting make even more of an impact as they are set in the natural rural setting of Patagonia.

We also discuss The Daughter of Fire as a ‘Road’ movie: our protagonists set out on a journey, meet more people, give expression to themselves. The film laudably makes it difficult to  generalise about female desire or female sexuality because each woman in the film is so different. What matters is each character´s pleasure.The film transcends a lot of the codes that have been used previously in relation to lesbian culture.

Is there a discourse on nation in The Daughters of Fire? What is the relationship in the film between people, community, nation?

We also discuss whether queer culture in its present form erases lesbianism or whether the relative lack of attention the film´s been getting is due to Anglo-centrism. Anyone working on queer theory would have a field day with the film. What is porn? What is female pleasure? How do we escape the patriarchy. Sexuality is seen as fluid, butch/femme is de-centred. We discuss how the film is trying to find a way to say something that requires a new or different form.

‘The problem is never the representation of the body but how those bodies become territory and landscape in front of the camera`, the film´s narrator tells us. How can cinema show female bodies without objectification? If it does´t objectify does it then cease to be pornography?

 

We both agree that The Daughters of Fire and Barbie Can Also be Sad are individually major works and together announce a major voice in the cinema, a major artist: Albertina Carri.

 

We hope you see the film, and if you do, you may want to check that there are no children in the room.

 

José Arroyo

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