Marleen Gorris was the first woman director to win an oscar. In Author/Auteur: Feminist Literary Theory and Feminist Film, Maggie Humm states that “…Gorris’s films have distinctively gendered preoccupation and styles, her first two films – A Question of Silence and Broken Mirrors – being elaborately women-centered films” (Humm, 92). Gorris is not the type of woman who likes to speak about her films to the public. She is a cerebral director who does not openly discuss her work, “As she pointed out in 1984 ‘I find it extremely difficult to talk about my own films, I don’t like to explain things that I have already explored in the film’ (Screen International 1984, p. 156)” (Humm, 94). “Gorris has so far been remarkably silent autobiographically in interviews. There are none of the customary detailed embellishments of physical appearance, family history, of the typical Bildungsroman of unknown writer to famous directory” (Humm, 94).
Gorris was born in the Limburg region in Roermond in 1948. She was born to Protestant working-class parents in the very Catholic southern part of the Netherlands. Gorris studied drama at home and abroad. She studied Drama at the University of Amsterdam and has an MA in Drama from the University of Birmingham, England. She has a brother, Henk Gorris, who teaches History. She began working as a filmmaker with almost no previous experience in the cinema and made an auspicious writing and directorial debut in 1982 with A Question of Silence. The Dutch government gave her the funding to finance the project. (http://goo.gl/oiXV0a)
One of Gorris’s most famous films was undoubtedly A Question of Silence. A Question of Silence is Gorris’ controversial debut film which became an instant feminist classic on its release. It won the Golden Calf at the Netherlands Film Festival and the Grand Prix at the Créteil International Women’s Film Festival, Paris (both 1982). The film deals with a group of women who have never met before but who together spontaneously murder a male shopkeeper. We follow a criminal psychiatrist’s interviews with the women to try to ascertain their sanity, and the ensuing court case, with surprising results. The film examines women’s shared oppression under patriarchy and the effects of this. (http://goo.gl/JZKuTf)
As the auteur, “Gorris’s imprint is much more subtly autobiographical and marks framing and camera movements” (Humm, 94). According to Humm, Gorris’s attention to such minute details helped make this one of her best films. Her experiences and her will to create a cohesive piece about the experiences of these women has led her “…authorial energies surface” (Humm, 94).
Gorris achieved a good example of gynocriticism in the film. She “…achieved this by working with the same small handful of actresses who share her background in theater rather than film, and with the same producer, cameraman and editor on both A Question of Silence and Broken Mirrors” (Humm, 95).
In conclusion, Humm put it best when she said: “For Marleen Gorris…the theater and the thriller have both been important sources of ideas” . Humm states that “Gorris uses mise-en-scéne in A Question of Silence…to make a coherent artistic statement about women’s subordination” (99). Gorris’s films are an expression of her emotions and beliefs. She uses the camera to convey images of truth and reality, and earns the respect of her fellow peers.
“FEMINIST CLASSIC: A Question of Silence.” London Feminist Film Festival. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 May 2014. http://londonfeministfilmfestival.com/programme/2012-2/a-question-of-silence/
Humm, Maggie. “Chapter 4.” Feminism and Film. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 1997. N. pag. Print.
“Marleen Gorris.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 28 Apr. 2014. Web. 01 May 2014. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marleen_Gorris