THERE’S a glint of missionary zeal in the eyes of Canberra International Film Festival director Andrew Pike when he talks about cinema. That’s a description he is proud to own. For not only is Pike […]
BY 1971, feminism was marching apace globally. Except in Switzerland, where the status of married women was limited to housekeeping and motherhood. Most galling of all limitations was denial of the right to vote.
Writer/director Petra Biondina Volpe’s gently assertive feminist movie about breaking through the barriers could never be called a chick flick. It unfolds a Catch-22 situation. Lacking political power to bring change about, Swiss women couldn’t change the rule preventing them from changing the law.
Hans (Maximilian Simonischek) proudly tells wife Nora (Marie Leuenberger) about his promotion to foreman at the furniture factory. The job Nora had before marriage and motherhood is again vacant. She wants to apply for it. Hans ridicules her before leaving to do military service. The film tells how Nora and close friend Theresa (Rachel Braunschweig), widow and former tavern-keeper Vroni (Sibylle Brunner) and present tavern owner Graziella (Marta Zoffoli) work together to improve the status of Swiss women.
At a gathering of village women arranged by Nora and her friends, an emancipated guest addresses them about their potential, the political value of their bodies and much that they don’t know about sex. That passage started me thinking about a play by Aristophanes first performed in 411 BC.
Lysistrata speaks to Athenian women: “There are a lot of things about us women that sadden me, considering how men see us as rascals.”
Then she proposes that they withhold what men most desire from women – sex.
I don’t know whether Nora’s story reflects reality. But it makes an engaging film that has won audience awards in the US.