Be Pretty and Shut Up

  • 1981
  • France
  • 1h 55min
  • Directed by: Delphine Seyrig

Iconic French actress Delphine Seyrigs interviews over 20 actresses in her documentary.

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BE PRETTY AND SHUT UP! Sois belle et tais-toi!

Dir: Delphine Seyrig, 1976, France, 110 mins, Cert: 18

One of the most iconic actresses of the 20th century and an ardent feminist who worked almost exclusively with female directors late in her career, Delphine Seyrigs work behind the camera has largely been ignored. With the rise of the use of newly portable video technology in the 70s Seyrig began to make her own feminist works together with fellow filmmaker and activist Carole Roussopoulos.

In 1975 and 1976 Delphine interviewed 24 femaleactors in France and the United States - including Juliet Berto, Ellen Burstyn, Jane Fonda, Viva, Shirley MacLaine and Maria Schneider - about their experience across the industry, asking themquestions such as If youd been a man, would you still have chosen to become an actor? or Have you ever acted in a scene with another woman and if so, was her role that of a competitor or a confidante? (a decade before the Bechdel Test was conceived).

Through their words, Seyrig reveals the frustrations of working within the patriarchal studio system that offers a stereotypical and reductive view of women through unimaginative and regressive roles, which are still very much apparent today.The expectation to be pretty and shut up is not new, nor has it disappeared since these interviews wererecorded over 40 years ago.With thanks to The Audiovisual Center Simone de Beauvoir created in 1982 by Carole Roussopoulos, Delphine Seyrig and Ioana Wieder. These three feminist activists, all involved in the video practice, put at the heart of their objectives the conservation and creation of audio-visual documents that were then recorded concerning the history of women, their rights, their struggles and their creations.

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