In the more than three hours long documentary Human from 2015 let the French photographer and filmmaker Yann Arthus-Bertrand People from all over the world tell about their lives right in the camera – and thus directly to us as spectators. In total, he will have interviewed 2020 people from 60 different countries, all of whom were asked the same questions, filmed against a neutral, black background.
This resulted in a film that highlighted both inequalities and common denominators and created reflections on what it means to be human. Human "Becomes a kind of appeal to the spectator's empathy and humanity, as well as a consideration of humanity in general and the importance of humanity in particular," I wrote in my mention in this newspaper.
Brutal and heartwarming
As the title suggests, the sequel portrays the film Woman the female part of the globe's population, with the same form and approach. Thus, it feels timely that Arthus-Bertrand does not stand alone this time, but shares the task with the female Ukrainian-born journalist and filmmaker Anastasia Mikova. The new movie is based on interviews they did with 2000 kvinner from a total of 50 countries.
"It feels timely that Arthus-Bertrand does not stand alone this time"
Like the previous movie is Woman divided into different themes, which here deal with different aspects of what it means to be a woman. Already from the estimate, where a woman tells of being a victim of human trafficking, it becomes obvious that the film should not exclude the violence and abuse the women of the world are exposed to. But the many confidential stories also contain humorous and heartwarming moments.
The woman with big K?
With a saw sexual premise, this project is in some danger of emphasizing the perception of the female in a contradiction to the male. The world hardly needs a pretentious and old-fashioned tribute to the Woman with big K – not to say "Quinden" with big Q. But Woman Fortunately, avoids being overly romantic in that way, precisely because it is women themselves who come to terms.
Since the last movie, the world has also witnessed the emergence of MeToo movement, and with that renewed awareness that certain, preferably negative, experiences are more of a concern to women than men. To say it with a male soul singer: We constantly live in "a man's world". In other words, it has hardly become less necessary for women to be seen and heard.
The sum of the diplomas gives a sense of strength and opportunities, but also of gross injustice.
In light of this, the film might have been more focused on women's challenges (and impact) in our western part of the world, although women's hostility is often more visible in other cultures. I would have preferred too Woman spent slightly less time on the mother role and the "life-giving" aspect of the female gender, since it can easily be linked to conservative perceptions of the woman's place in home and society. Admittedly, it would have been unnatural (in the proper sense of the word) to completely bypass this theme, and there is little doubt that birth and maternal role are of great importance to many women. But I am just as surprised that so few in the film say anything about it not wanting to have children – and when it is raised, there is some uncertainty surrounding this choice.
Strength and injustice
I Human the "talking heads" combined with breathtaking aerial photo sequences were filmed across the globe, which in a more literal sense depicted humanity from a bird's-eye view. IN Woman instead, the filmmakers have chosen to break up the interviews with full-character portraits of women from different walks of life and cultures. These also include pictures of families, which are also an important theme in the film, and with it the film is also not completely free of men. At least not on the visual side.
In the absence of an adequate Norwegian translation, "empowering" is the word that might best describe Woman. The sum of the diplomas gives a sense of strength and opportunities, but also of gross injustice. A striking example of the latter is acid attack against women who have broken with men's demands on how they should behave. It is tempting to use the phrase "crippling injustice" – if it wasn't for the young woman in the film who has managed to find a strength in what she has been through, and which also characterizes her physically.
The absence of student panoramic images, as well as the shorter playing time of less than two hours, do that Woman is not a full movie experience Human. Yet it must still be said to be both powerful, moving and thought provoking.
Would it be natural for Arthus-Bertrand to follow up this documentary with a movie about the man? One might object that it is not as necessary, all the while the masculine gender is still the most privileged – but Woman is probably not made solely because women tend to have less power. I myself would like to see a similar portrait of the world's men, with all their diversity of power, power, roles and identities.
Woman its Norwegian cinema premiere on March 6. The film won the audience award at the Bergen International Film Festival this fall.