Is there a genre called Feminist Cinema? If there is, the Dutch film, ‘Antonia’s Line’ (Antonia, 1995, written and directed by Marleen Gorris) would be the epitome of it. I saw the film in 2002, I think, at the Pune International Film Festival, and really, really liked it. Since then, I had been trying to catch hold of a copy to watch the film again, or rather study it.
Finally, I got the film for my own. On a second viewing, though I’m not as enthusiastic as I was earlier, I still believe it’s a wonderful film, simplistic at some parts may be, but it has a fairy tale-like quality that wins you over sooner or later. The film won the Best Foreign Film Oscar in 1996, and it’s not difficult to see why. It’s a fable much like Juliet Binoche film ‘Chocola’, but more raw and rustic.
Antonia returns to her village with her young daughter to bury her mother, and this time, she decides to stay back; in the process she makes some friends and some enemies, and always does the right, helping those who are the laughing stock of everyone. As the film progresses, it tells the story of her daughter, granddaughter and great granddaughter, all precocious talents and all capable of making their own with the help of the “men”. There are a few male characters in the film, but all of them are relegated to the background, as Antonia and her progeny live life to the fullest, without a damn to the world.
Writes Roger Ebert: “The movie incorporates the magic realism of Latin America, dour European philosophies of death, the everyday realities of rural life, a cheerful feminism, a lot of easygoing sex and a gallery of unforgettable characters. By the time the film is over, you feel you could walk down its village streets and greet everyone by name.”