Women Behind the Camera

Taking a cross-cultural approach, this interesting documentary, based on film professor Alexis Krasilovskys book of the same name, explores the lives of camerawomen in Hollywood and Bollywood, Afghanistan, Australia, Canada, China, England, France, Germany, India, Iran, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Senegal, the U.S.

Boasting a wide scope, never done before, it offers useful insights into the work of female cinematographers across the globe, centering on joys and sorrows, problems and rewards they encounter in what's a still largely male-dominated industry.

American camerawomen include Directors of Photography Ellen Kuras, (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and numerous indie films shown at the Sundance Film Fest), Sandi Sissel, ASC (Salaam Bombay!), and pioneers like African-American camerawoman Jessie Maple Pattonwho had to sue the union and TV networks to get a job.

The docu goes beyond the realm of film to include TV and video journalism. For the past six years, the filmmakers have followed the lives of over 50 lensers, from video journalists risking their lives in war zones, to feature DPs, shooting buddies-with-guns escaping in slow motion from total destruction on commercial sets.

Some of the invaluable footage includes secret films by camerawomen of the Taliban beating Afghani women, to historic footage by Chinas first camerawomen of Maos travels through the Chinese countryside.

As is the nature of most anthologies, some of the stories are more captivating, emotional, and personal than others. You'll enjoy the saga of a Russian filmmaker who shot the fall of the Soviet Union, and whose choice of career is told as a love story.

Offering glimpses into “politically forbidden” areas, or little known national industries, such as China, the docu includes a segment on rural India, where subsistence-level women are taught camerawork as a means of empowerment. Then there is the exciting story of a young, courageous Senegalese camerawoman, who's willing to climb onto a mans shoulders-literally-to get her subject.

In the widest survey ever done on women in this capacity, professor Krasilovsky shows us a world of beauty, courage and technical skill. This docu should encourage filmmakers, both male and female, to essay a study of women in other male-governed fields.