Eat, Pray, Love’s Elizabeth Gilbert talks to Intelligence Squared

Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love seems, to me, to be one of those Marmite-like dividers of women. Whilst the Sunday Times has declared the memoir to be some sort of feminine gospel, saying ‘Eat, Pray, Love has been passed from woman to woman like the secret of life’, there are still those who are reluctant to fall for its charms. Bitch magazine, for example, accused the book of being ‘priv-lit‘  - saying that Gilbert’s path to enlightenment is greatly smoothed by her wealth – which is fine for her (and her equally privileged readers) but rather annoying for anyone else who can’t afford to traverse the globe to find themselves.

And then there are those who, like me, seem to be almost allergic to the self-help genre. When a considerate friend kindly offered up a quote from the book, in a bid to help me through a break up, my cynical soul simply refused to take it in – I refused to become one of those simpering women who find quotes that ‘resonate’. An ‘Eat, Pray, Lover‘, if you will.

Still, there’s obviously something about Eat, Pray, Love that attracts readers time and time again; The book has sold over 7 million copies and is about to be unleashed on to our UK screens as a major motion picture (starring saccharine sweetheart Julia Roberts, natch) on September the 24th.

It is for this reason that Gilbert finds herself on a new journey that will bring her slap bang into the spotlight for an event hosted by Intelligence Squared (IQ2) on September the 15th. Speaking with host Paul Holdengräber, Gilbert is sure to pass on plenty of pearls of wisdom from her travels… but I am also expecting a little light grilling too. Is ’spiritual journey’ travelling a new form of colonialism? Does self-help culture perpetuate selfishness? And where can us poorer gals go to eat, pray and love?

In readiness for the talk next month, I have finally bought a copy of the book (online, to avoid blushes at the book shop!) and I can actually admit that I’m glad to have the excuse to read it. Perhaps I am being overly negative. Perhaps a little Eating, Praying and Loving will be good for me… I’ll be sure to let you know in my review of the IQ2 event!

Elizabeth Gilbert speaks at Cadogan Hall, London, on Wednesday September 15th. The event will begin at 7.00pm and finish at 8.30pm. Tickets are from £20 and all details can be found here.

Ooh, and before you see the film, take a look at these great reviews over at Bust and The Salon!

By: Sarah Barnes, 27.08.2010 | Comments (5)
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Are you copying me, sweety?

Okay, here comes a major U-turn!

So, I promised myself that I would NOT write about Sex and The City 2 on Uplift… Why? Well, firstly, it’s been analysed amazingly well in so many other places (links below) and I felt that whatever I had to say would simply be a hackneyed regurgitation of all that had gone before. But secondly, and most importantly, I never wanted to create a feminist analysis of this particular Sex and The City movie because I don’t think it’s fair to subject it to such scrutiny.

I’m with Bust magazine’s Emily Rems on this one, in that the SATC franchise gets too much stick simply because it’s the only one of its kind. It’s been called ‘bad for women’ because it is a fantasy aimed at women,  but how many times do we hear similar wailings that men are damaged by fantastical films aimed at them? The fact that this is one of the tiny minority (actually, I’m not sure if I can think of any others. Help me out here?) of films right now focussing on female characters, older women and their friendships, means that we heap all our feminist hopes onto it and, of course, we are going to end up being hugely disappointed. That SATC2 is one of the only blockbusters aimed at women is the major worry here, not whether it will turn us into shoe crazed maniacs.

So, I made my promise. But promises are made to be broken. The driving force, fittingly, was a girly night at my house watching Series 2 of Absolutely Fabulous. When we came to an episode entitled Morocco we all almost spat out our Cosmo cocktails in surprise as we realised the uncanny likeness between Eddie and Patsy’s capers in the souk market, and those of Carrie and co. (skip the clip to 6.50 to see what I mean!)

Of course, this is all coincidental, but I did think it was interesting to see where the culture-based comedy was coming from in AbFab compared with SATC2. In AbFab, Eddie comes out with some terribly ignorant lines; “We dragged these people screaming into the 2oth century,” she says, almost taking credit for the introduction of the ‘non- squat toilet’ and toilet tissue. Later, after perusing the market for ‘little gorgeous things’ whilst wearing next to nothing, Eddie fumes  ”How dare they spit at me? I mean, the nation has a pillowcase with a slit in it as a national costume!”

Honestly, I couldn’t help thinking that if Carrie had the balls (for want of a more feminist-friendly phrase!), she would have said exactly the same thing. God knows something similar must have been going on in that character’s brain as she amusedly watched a woman eating chips below her veil.

In AbFab’s Morrocco episode we are presented with these laughable, ignorant characters who bumble around offending and judging everyone. We laugh at them, because we can’t quite believe that people would behave so ridiculously. However, in SATC2 we’re presented with pretty much the exact same characters and scenarios – and yet we are supposed to be laughing with them. I couldn’t help but wonder; is this an indication of how far backwards we have gone in terms of our cultural understandings and tolerance? Or, with such a huge back-lash to the film, does it simply show how out of touch the SATC writers have become? No wonder SJP is feeling less than absolutely fabulous!

More to read and watch;

Bust Magazine review SATC2 as ‘Surprisingly Delicious

Muslimah Media Watch calls it ‘Orientalist Boogaloo

Burkas and Birkins‘ by Lindy West

Mark Kermode analyses (as only he can!) the class and privilege issues at play in SATC2

Victoria Coren wonders if the SATC franchise has been hijacked by the Christian Right!

By: Sarah Barnes, 08.07.2010 | Comments (0)
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ReAnimate yourself with BEV!

Just got some exciting news from the lovely people at Bird’s Eye View film festival, so I thought I’d share…

It’s great news to hear that BEV are teaming up with the mighty Warp to support bright female talent in the exciting field of animation and screen writing. Applications to enter the programme are now being taken (up until Friday 14th May 2010) and BEV will then “select up to 20 exceptional British women and equip them with the contacts and creative support they need to produce smart, commercial, animation ideas for the international marketplace.” Sounds like an opportunity not to be missed!

Learn more about the initiative and submit your application here.

By: Sarah Barnes, 16.04.2010 | Comments (0)
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London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival opens tonight!

The 24th Annual London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival kicks off this evening, starting off a two week celebration of all the best queer cinema from around the world.

The festival begins with the world premier of The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister, a true tale of a woman who defied the conventions of the 1800’s by living with her female partner. Whilst keeping her lesbian lifestyle secret, Miss Lister documented her life, using her own unique code, in a diary which has only just recently been deciphered. This film will be the first time many have encountered the story of the woman who has been called Britain’s first modern lesbian.

Another film not to be missed is I Killed My Mother, the multi award winning debut from young French Canadian director Xavier Dolan. Whilst the story is about the sour relationship between a gay teen and his mother, the boy’s sexuality takes a back-seat to the action – making it a refreshing coming of age tale.

For more ideas on films to see and exciting goings on, watch the video here to see the festival organisers give their favourite festival picks. Enjoy the fest!

By: Sarah Barnes, 17.03.2010 | Comments (1)
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New Feature: Tongues on Fire film festival

In our latest feature Roshni Goyate of the brilliant  Potpourri Express blog writes about Asian film festival Tongues on Fire. The festival, which began on Friday, is not only a great chance to see independent Asian films that wouldn’t usually be screened here in the UK, but the fest was also started with the aim of empowering women through film.

Read the full article here… and don’t forget to follow Roshni on Twitter!

By: Sarah Barnes, 08.03.2010 | Comments (0)
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Ladyfest Goldsmiths kicks off on Monday!

Ladyfest Goldsmiths returns this year with a five day programme celebrating women in arts, music, film and more! The line-up looks amazing, with a great mix of workshops, film screenings, discussions, gigs, crafting sessions, and even the chance to get gaming with other girls.

Events kick off this coming Monday (the 22nd) and go on til Friday (the 26th) All events except the Ladyfest Band Night (on Thursday, definitely not one to miss!) are free, but donations are appreciated and will go to Women’s charities.

So that you’re nice and prepared, here’s the line-up in all its glory!

MONDAY

5pm Special Collections, ground floor, the library: Launch of the Ladyfest Art Exhibition – ‘In Her Shoes’. Free drinks and nibbles. (The exhibition will be open all week.)

5.30pm Special Collections, ground floor, the library: Where are all the Women in Art? Talk with artists Oriana Fox and Lydia Maria Julien.

7.30pm the Common Room, first floor, Students’ Union Building: Cabaret Night by the radical feminist collective Lashings of Ginger Beer.

TUESDAY

3-4.30pm Stephen Lawrence Committee Room, ground floor, Students’ Union Building: ‘Women and Direct Action’ workshop with NUS Women’s Officer Liv Bailey.

5pm in RHB308, second floor, main building: Film Screening Patti Smith – Dream of Life + discussion on Women in Music.

9pm the Stretch Bar, second floor, Students’ Union Building: Ladyfest Pub Quiz.

WEDNESDAY

12.30–4pm Stephen Lawrence Committee Room, ground floor, Students’ Union Building: Video Gaming Session.

4.30pm Stephen Lawrence Committee Room, ground floor, Students’ Union Building: Why I am a Fat Activist. Talk & Q&A with fat/queer activist Charlotte Cooper.

6pm RHB137, ground floor, main building: Pitbull Film Productions Short Films Screening + Talk by film makers Bev Zalcock and Sara Chambers.

7pm RHB143, first floor, main building: Performance Art with Justyna Scheuring, Bojana Jankovic, Nicole Dimitrakopoulou, Becky Fury, Kinetic Aesthetic.

THURSDAY

12–2pm Stephen Lawrence Committee Room, ground floor, Students’ Union Building: Crafternoon – come to do either tie dye, make-do and mend or knitting (or all of them!).

4-7pm the Common Room, first floor, Students’ Union Building: Ladyfest Live – Acoustic Afternoon.

5.30pm Stephen Lawrence Committee Room, ground floor, Students’ Union Building: Film producer and journalist Mandana Mofidi TALK.

7pm RHB139, ground floor, main building: Film screening of The Seashell and the Clergyman and The Smiling Madame Beudet by Germaine Dulac as part of Feminist Society’s Women Make Films film series.

9pm The Stretch Bar, second floor, Students’ Union Building : Ladyfest Band Night with happy punk tunes from BRACELETTES, skewhiff riot grrrl from WETDOG, superfun smoky garage rock from PENS and catchy steel-toed shoegazing from VERONICA FALLS. Girl Germs + DaftKunt DJ, feminist society & co. provide cakes. Tickets are £4 on the door, or £3 in advance at the Students’ Union Shop or online.

FRIDAY

12-4pm The Stretch Bar, second floor, Students’ Union Building: Jumble Sale and Craft Stalls.

4pm Special Collections. ground floor, the library: Last chance to see ‘In Her Shoes’ Art Exhibition as it closes at 5pm.

By: Sarah Barnes, 20.02.2010 | Comments (0)
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Birds Eye View Tickets on sale today!

The brilliant Birds Eye View Film Festival is just around the corner, and with a delightfully long run (from March 4th til March 12th) celebrating women in film, there is plenty to get your teeth into. Here’s just a taster…

It all looks great, so I’d definitely advise you to snap up your ticket today… and with so much good stuff on offer, it’s wise to start planning your festival diary with the help of festival director Rachel Millward’s picks of the fest. I had a great time at the festival’s workshops last year (and hell, I’m not even an aspiring film maker! It was all research for my piece about the fest for Subtext Magazine) so I’m really looking forward to getting involved again this year!

By: Sarah Barnes, 10.02.2010 | Comments (0)
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Now that it’s winter, here’s 500 days of Summer.

Boy meets girl. Boy falls in love. Girl doesn’t.

This was the tagline that lured me in to see the delightful 500 days of Summer. Being a person who is bored of rom-coms where all girls are emotional wrecks lying in wait by the phone, and all men are heartbreakers, I was interested to see director Marc Webb’s interpretation of the modern love story.  I wasn’t disappointed, 500 days plays out like my own love life does in a dream, where I walk away from a relationship with all the power and my dignity still intact (I’ll manage it some day!) .

(more…)

By: Yasmin Eshref, 02.02.2010 | Comments (3)
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Birds Eye View launches ‘She Writes’

Birds Eye View launches She Writes

This exciting little piece of news dropped into my inbox recently and I just had to share it! Birds Eye View do some great things for women in the film industry, and their new She Writes training programme (co-presented with The Script Factory) sounds like a wonderful opportunity for the lucky selected writers.

The eight writers chosen will attend training workshops, as well as masterclasses and Q&As with leading UK and international talent. They will also have the opportunity to network with film industry producers and commissioners and will see their own profiles raised through a focused industry PR campaign.

The deadline for applications is 5pm on Friday the 29th of January, 2010. You can download the application form here.

For more information and analysis of women in the film industry check out the latest issue of Subtext, which has a Women in Film special. I contributed a piece on the Birds Eye View film festival to the issue, in which I interviewed Rachel Millward, CEO and creative director of BEV.

By: Sarah Barnes, 19.12.2009 | Comments (0)
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Issue 8 of Subtext Magazine Out Now!

Subtext IssuesTime to celebrate, because the Autumn/Winter 09 issue of Subtext Magazine is now available to buy! There it is in all its glory, top left, with a Reclaim The Night picture (courtesy of Hannah Nicklin) taking pride of place on the front cover.

The contents look good too; with pieces on the pornification of society, the ‘digital ceiling’, frugal feminism and a look into struggles between cissexuality and transgender women in feminism.

There’s also a Women in Film Special, to which I contributed a piece on the Birds Eye View film festival. It’s the first written contribution I’ve made for this wonderful publication (all my past contributions have been illustrations) and it was a really enjoyable piece to write, as I had the pleasure to speak to Rachel Millward, CEO and creative director of BEV.

Buy your copy here and show your support!

By: Sarah Barnes, 09.12.2009 | Comments (0)
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