WOMEN MAKE FILM Miniseries Is Film School On TCM / Criterion Channel (FILM FUN)

Filmmaking through the female gaze.

In one of the most ambitious curations ever produced for television, Turner Classic Movies and the Criterion Channel will be airing Women Make Film every Tuesday night during the fall of 2020, from September 1 to December 1. (See trailers for the series below.)

In a nutshell, Women In Film is a 14-hour docuseries about women filmmakers…but, like women themselves, it’s so much more than that. The series, from Irish filmmaker Mark Cousins, is an anchor of a broader televised film school. Each episode is paired with a slate of female-directed films, all programmed to air on the same nights of each episode in the series. Click here to see the September schedule and get an idea of what that will look like. (Click here for the full broadcast schedule.)

Moreover, Women In Film isn’t simply a reflection on landmark movies made by women; it teaches the art of moviemaking exclusively through the films of female directors. As series producer Tilda Swinton puts it: “This is a film school of sorts in which all the teachers are women, an academy of Venus.” Swinton also serves as one of seven narrators for the series.

In his glowing review for Variety, film critic Peter Debruge says the series teaches audiences “how to make a movie using only female-directed examples.” He expands on that notion, saying:

  • “Inspirational and instructive alike, the film is divided into 40 chapters, which ask rhetorical questions — from “What’s an inventive way of introducing a character?” to “How does a director film thought?” — for which Cousins doesn’t necessarily have the answers. The goal is to focus “students” on the essentials: ways to frame a scene, how to establish tone, tactics for compressing time and creating suspense, what to show and when it’s more effective to omit. Instead of imposing rules, he culls intriguing (albeit unusual) examples from the extensive catalog of women-made films and offers them up as potential solutions. For those interested in directing, the tactic can be incredibly liberating, as if to say, “There are no wrong answers! Look how original others have been!”

In total, Women In Film will highlight over 100 women filmmakers across 6 continents from over 100+ years of film history (click here to see the full list). To get a better, more specific understanding of the kinds of movies the series will have on its syllabus (along with the actual films airing in tandem with each episode), click here.

In case you come to the series late, check your local TCM listings for repeats of episodes from the Women In Film series, along with availability through TCM’s VOD option.

(While I can’t speak to “scheduling” for Criterion subscribers, my hunch is that each docuseries episode will be accessible on-and-after each premiere date and time, and that each episode’s curation of films listed on TCM’s schedule will be available on Criterion. But again, that’s just a hunch.)

If you ever wanted to take a film course, you couldn’t ask for a more rigorous or intriguing one than this, all in the comfort of your own home at the cost of a cable or Criterion subscription.

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