The Female Gaze in Cinema: MAKE UP

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Davina Quinlivan in Conversation with Director Claire Oakley on her latest film, MAKE UP

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The immaculate texture of plastic, the sound of twisting winds and the deep, ochre colours of the shoreline pervade Claire Oakley’s debut feature film and haunt the viewer long after the closing credits. It is a conjuring of a collective disturbance and unsettling miasma which tells a unique story of female sexuality and girlhood, both strange and beautiful.

Oakley’s film has already attracted critical acclaim for its powerful and highly suggestive storytelling. Filmed just off the North coast of Cornwall and set within a holiday park, we follow Ruth (Molly Windsor) as she starts to come undone, at first suspecting her boyfriend of having an affair and then gradually being drawn towards another young woman whose presence unsettles the very foundations of her reality. Everything begins with a lone, red hair found on Ruth’s pillow.

We will be having an exciting conversation about the role of the uncanny and the female gaze, the broader representation of female desire and the objects, spaces and sounds of MAKE UP.

MAKE UP is available to watch here

Claire Oakley's debut feature 'Make Up' was released by Curzon Artificial Eye in July 2020 to critical acclaim. The film stars Bafta-winner Molly Windsor (BBC's 'Three Girls') and was produced by Quiddity Films and iFeatures with the support of the BFI, BBC Films and Creative England.

Claire's four short films have played at more than 50 festivals worldwide and have picked up several prizes internationally. She has been commissioned by the Wellcome Trust, Film London, Universal Music and the photographer Rankin. Her previous work also includes an essay film shot entirely underwater, which she produced.

Claire was chosen as a Screen Star of Tomorrow, 2019 and in 2014 she co-founded Cinesisters a peer-to-peer mentoring group for female directors. She is currently developing several feature films and a TV series.

Davina Quinlivan is Senior Lecturer in Film at Kingston School of Art, Kingston University. She writes on the intersections between film and philosophy, especially feminist thought and film experience. She is author of The Place of Breath in Cinema (EUP, 2012), Filming the Body in Crisis: Trauma, Healing and Hopefulness (Palgrave, 2015), Joanna Hogg: Female Expression and the New British Art Cinema (EUP, forthcoming), The Inner Cinema of Deborah Levy (forthcoming) and BFI Film Classics volume on The Spirit of the Beehive (Bloomsbury, 2022). She has recently set up a network of feminist scholars whose focus will be on Venice.

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