She’s The Protagonist
Our Take – Small Axe Radical Short Film Reviews by Cole Diment
She’s the Protagonist, by Sarah Carlot Jaber, introduces us to the sexism of the Western film industry in a feminist de-construction (and laugh riot) of tropes, myths and misdemeanours. In this we are given an insight behind the methods of production around dominant film and media, a traditionally leftist practice, imbued with an emancipatory intersectional feminism.
The opening scene shows us the inherent sexism of the film industry. In an abrupt fashion the female counterpart to our initial male protagonist is silenced by hands that reach in from outside the screen. Her body is touched, played with and manipulated by these hands as they please. Our eyes are brought to the issue of production rather than the finished product. This leads us to ask: what goes on behind the camera?
Comedy features largely as the film’s method of deconstruction. Rather than overt intellectualising, something that may turn off someone unfamiliar with feminism’s positions, Jaber offers abrasive and dry comedy as a tool that, whilst a certain rebuttal, allows us to partake in the laughter and friendship of the women in this film. Through this method of comedy, tropes and stereotypes are deconstructed all the while positing active, emancipated femininity as a legitimately funny form of entertainment: refreshing for the viewer conditioned to masculine philosophising and chauvinism.
Perhaps the most excellent point of She’s the Protagonist is it’s branching out into ever increasing sub-categories of feminism. The pitfall of white-middle-class feminism is this; it lacks the insight to represent those further marginalised by the histories of patriarchy, colonialism and heteronormativity. With this Jaber pushes forward the notion of a grand-alliance of democratic voice including queer, PoC, disabled and gender-non-conforming people (to name a few) as an intrinsically feminist position. The power of a collective, united front against the patriarchy of the film industry may harbour the strength to change it for the good.
Sarah has asked that her film collective Elles Font des Films be linked to you: