Undeniably, cinema is still very much a boys club – and the representation of women on screen is habitually reflective of this unfortunate fact. Whether we are depicted through a male lens of pity, malice or hysteria – or, the dire ‘manic pixie dream girl’ trope (see Audrey Tautou in Amélie or Zooey Deschanel in basically anything) – we are so oft cinematically presented as entirely one-dimensional beings.
The following three Instagram accounts seek to remedy this predicament, either by celebrating traits that are inherently ‘feminine’ on our own terms, or depicting nuanced female characters in film who extend beyond a tired portrayal. The resulting feeds are rich with incredibly relatable filmic imagery, which will entice your index finger into tapping the ‘follow’ button pretty much instantaneously.
Spilt Milk examines the phenomenon of a cinematic close-up, exploring the role of the starlet within Hollywood’s golden age. The account’s creator, writer and researcher Sarah Kathryn Cleaver, is interested in the prevalence of this kind of imagery in the media and idealised depictions of women’s tears; from religious painting to paparazzi shots, and beautifully lit, transcendent moments in film. “I think that culturally, over time, people have attached these mistrustful meanings to female tears,” she explains, “and you see that played upon all the time in fashion imagery too; through pictures of glitter tears and streaky make-up”.
“I had just finished reading bell hooks’ Real to Reel, on how film teaches its audience and how we should be aware of our depictions of race, class, and women,” says Natalie Falt, the filmmaker behind Instagram account Women and Film. Falt uses her platform to increase awareness of women in the media, alongside celebrating films made by women through the seductive aesthetic pull of the film still. As Falt continues, “I believe in celebrating what is inherently female, rather than shaming women for having certain traits – or for being ‘girly’. I can’t wait to see more women in front of and behind the camera; it’s so important to see relatable images on screen – it makes one not feel so alone in the world.”
Actress Rowan Blanchard is no stranger to the spotlight, having appeared on a Disneyfied screen since the age of five. Blanchard is now 15, but holds her own in political spheres, with a large part of her activism focusing on the representation of queer and BAME bodies in the media. Her Instagram-based project Pruned Roses encapsulates some of her principles through a cinematic slant, with notable screen shots taken from Bollywood films (such as Kaajal (1965), exclaiming “woman and the earth have to tolerate a lot”) and the 1977 Mexican horror Alucarda, a film considered incredibly controversial during the era of its release, due to a portrayal of ambiguously close female friendship and lesbianism.