Director: Nina Menkes Run Time: 107 min. Release Year: 2022
Starring: Catherine Hardwicke, Julie Dash, Nina Menkes, Penelope Spheeris, Rosanna Arquette
“If the camera is predatory, then the culture is predatory.” In this eye-opening documentary, celebrated independent filmmaker Nina Menkes explores the sexual politics of cinematic shot design. Using clips from hundreds of movies we all know and love – from Metropolis to Vertigo to Phantom Thread – Menkes convincingly makes the argument that shot design is gendered. Brainwashed: Sex-Camera-Power illuminates the patriarchal narrative codes that hide within supposedly “classic” set-ups and camera angles, and demonstrates how women are frequently displayed as objects for the use, support, and pleasure of male subjects. Building on the essential work of Laura Mulvey and other feminist writers, Menkes shows how these not-so-subtle embedded messages affect and intersect with the twin epidemics of sexual abuse and assault, as well as employment discrimination against women, especially in the film industry. The film features interviews with an all-star cast of women and non-binary industry professionals including Julie Dash, Penelope Spheeris, Charlyne Yi, Joey Soloway, Catherine Hardwicke, Eliza Hittman, Maria Giese, and Rosanna Arquette. The result is an electrifying call-to-action that will fundamentally change the way you see, and watch, movies.