The City of Ladies is a 20-minute non-linear film installation directed by Zanny Begg in collaboration with Paris-based Australian film director Elise McLeod.
The work was inspired by the proto-feminist novel The Book of the City of Ladies (1402) written by France’s first professional female writer Christine de Pizan. de Pizan aimed to subvert masculine versions of history by imagining a utopian city built, populated and governed by women.
The City of Ladies loosely draws on the structure and content of de Pizan’s work but uses this material across time to engage with issues for young women in Paris today, a city divided over responses to terrorism and home to the inspiring Nuit Debout movement.
The City of Ladies includes several interviews with leading/pioneering feminists such as Hélène Cixous, Silvia Federici, Sam Bourcier, Fatima Ezzahra Benomar and Sharone Omankoy.
Like The Beehive, the work is created by a computer-generated re-sequencing of its more than 50 core sections or sequences. The software, created by programmer Andy Nicholson, randomly selects a different combination of sections to play during each 20-minute screening of the work, thereby disrupting the narrative arc of more conventional linear films.
After the screening, Elise and Zanny will join us in conversation via video link.
Image: The City of Ladies 2017, Zanny Begg with Elise McLeod, courtesy the artists. Photograph by Federique Baraja.
The original installation launched as part of The National at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney in 2017.
About Zanny Begg
Zanny Begg was born in 1972 in Melbourne and now lives and works in Bulli, near Sydney. Her practice incorporates film, drawing and installation, with a particular interest in exploring hidden or contested histories. Begg’s work is often collaborative, having worked with Philippa Bateman for The Beehive.
Begg has exhibited widely in both Australian and international institutions including Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney; Contemporary Art Tasmania, Hobart; Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane; Melbourne International Film Festival; Istanbul Biennial; and Campbeltown Arts Centre, Sydney.
About Elise McLeod
Elise McLeod is a film and theatre director originally from Melbourne who has worked in Paris since 1997.
Her recent films include Fish & Chicks (2016) (Best film Soho International film festival), The city of Witches (2018) & The City of ladies (2017 with Zanny Begg). and Love, Lies and the Internet (2008) . Her films have screened in numerous festivals in Europe & USA. She’s directed numerous plays including most recently K Surprise » Kiss DB, Revoir Amelie, Toutes Coupables and The Rabbi’s Cat by Joann Sfar.