Women and Dance in Kuwait cinema Objectives: Research Questions: How has Kuwait cinema depicted women in the last fifty years and how has this evolved with the changes that have affected women s position in Kuwait society? How is dance used in Kuwait films and to what extent the different types of female dance have been incorporated in these films? How did cultural, social, political and economic factors impact on the representation of women and on the use of dance in Kuwaiti films? What new theoretical frameworks and approaches are best suited to an understanding of the representation of women and the use of dance in Kuwaiti cinema? How can existing theories of film and dance be reformulated so that we can arrive at a better understanding of cinema in Kuwait and of dance in this cinema as forces of social change, especially with regard to women s position in Kuwait society? Methodology: 1) Information and Material gathering about Kuwaiti films: In 1961 the Ministry of Orientation and Information in Kuwait was mandated to promote, oversee, and sponsor cinematography in Kuwait. Soon after, five theatres became operational and state television was launched. Foreign, Arabic and locally produced films were shown as public awareness and interest in arts and culture surged. While the foreign and Arabic films shown comprised a wide variety of genres, the locally produced films were limited to documentaries and educational material about the culture and customs of the people living in the region. The first locally produced feature film Bas ya Bahar (Cruel sea) by the Kuwaiti director Khalid Al-Siddiq- was released nearly ten years later in 1972. It was followed by two other feature films, Al Samt (The Silence) (1976) and Al Fakh (The Trap) (1983) respectively. After these initial productions, locally produced feature films took a down turn until the new millennium where some small productions were released but very sporadically. My initial research indicates that 17 Kuwaiti films were made since 1961. State records of locally produced films were destroyed during the Iraqi invasion in 1990. Although the ministry of information, the higher council of arts and culture, and other local organizations and concerned individuals attempted to restore some records and film material, information is still scarce and unorganized. Furthermore, academic research and material about Kuwaiti cinema is practically non-existent except for a few books and articles, which allude to Kuwaiti cinema within a larger context, related to arts, cultural development, modernisation or regional production attempts. Collecting and examining information and film materials from various sources, including written articles, published books, film copies maintained by organizations and individuals; Conducting interviews with individuals concerned with the cinema industry, such as Kuwaiti directors, actors, producers and so forth; Organising and classifying the collected information into a comprehensive, reliable reference tool about Kuwaiti cinema that can become part of the national archives and can be used by other researchers and scholars. 2) Theoretical frameworks: 2.i) Analysis of Kuwaiti films: Using well established analytical film theories, I will examine the narrative strategies of a representative sample of Kuwaiti films, focusing more specifically on the elements of mise-en-scene and their interaction. Using Bordwell s Film Art as my main reference, I will study the five main elements of mise-en-scene Settings and props Costume Acting styles Positioning of characters/objects within the frame Type and function of sound and music I will analyse how the above elements and techniques work together (the sequence) to tell the story, evoke the atmospheres, relay information and provoke audience response and also discern the key theme(s). For example, I will examine: How dominant contrasts are created (by the size of objects, degree of focus, by lighting, or colour, etc.; Shot and camera proxemies (What type of shot? Camera position and movements, angle, and so forth); Staging positions Framing and composition The analysis of these elements will enable me to: Discern how women are represented in Kuwaiti films; i.e. the roles, the degree of focus, realistic/unrealistic characteristics attributed to her, social position, etc.; What is the role of dance in the narration strategies of Kuwaiti films; i.e. symbolism, representation of the traditional or modern cultures, reflection the emotional and psychological states, etc.. Feminist film theory: To examine how women have been represented in Kuwaiti films from 1972 to 2014, I will use three well-established theories: the male gaze theory, the body theory, and melodrama theory. My references for these theories are: I will rely on the male gaze theory as my main theoretical framework and will depart from it to melodrama and body theories. The male gaze theory: The male gaze was introduced in Laura Mulvey s (1975) essay Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema . Mulvey views women representation in films, literature and society in general to have been dominated by the male point of view. Mulvey argues that in a patriarchal society, such as the one we inhabit, women are never inscribed in cultural production as the have subject of the look: they are constructed in visual culture as having a passive role, as the object of a male (gaze) that is assumed to be in an active scopophilic role. John Berger s classic Ways of Seeing advances a similar argument in relation to painting and advertsing. Mulvey s starting point is that in cinema and other visual media images of women are constructed for the visual pleasure of the heterosexual male. Representation of women remain objects of the male look or gaze and his voyeurism or scopophilia. She argued that the narrative strategies of the majority of films (if not all) construct the spectator (the looking subject) as (from the perspective of) a heterosexual male. The male gaze theory suggests several points, including that: images produced in a patriarchal society, such as the one we inhabit, deny women a sense of subjectivity, i.e. that no images are constructed with woman in mind as the carrier of the look; women watch a film from a secondary perspective and only view themselves from a man s perspective. They are encourage to internalise patriarchal values; mostly, a female character has no real function as such; her narrative role is a function of priorities and values that ultimately sustain male desire. Mulvey also discusses the different types of looking: The look of the cameras as it records the filmic event The look of the audience as it watches the final product The look of the characters at each other in the visual images of screen illusion She suggests that these looks are linked to the issue of genre and representation because many relations of looking in the cinema are informed and disrupted by sexual desire and erotic contemplation of the female form. For my study and analysis of Kuwaiti films in regards to the representation of women, I will attempt to explore the premises and suggestions of Mulvey s arguments in mind considerations such as: the difference in the pace of feminist movement in the west and in the Arab world, particularly Kuwait. There is a vast gap between these two worlds in terms of feminism and cultural development. As mentioned earlier, Kuwait is a conservative country closely adherent to Islamic rules and teachings; the difference between the objectives of filmmaking in the Western world and filmmaking outside the USA and Europe. As Frederic Jameson has argued in an essay entitled Third World Literature in the Era of Multinational Capitalism (1986) cultural production (and thus also films) in the South (in so-called developing countries) are more explicitly concerned with issues of national identity and national culture than US and EU films. The difference in film censorship regulations between the east and the west. Censorship and freedom of expression are still major issues that Kuwait is battling with. The above considerations will have strong bearings on how women were represented in Kuwaiti films such as: Does the male gaze if Kuwaiti cinema objectify women in the way suggested by Mulvey s theory? Could, inadvertently, the representation of women in Kuwaiti films be promoting Western feminism ideals because of censorship or religious teachings which call for extreme respect for certain female roles such as the mother? Or because religion prohibits the exposure of the woman body? Does the male gaze of Kuwaiti cinema resort to other methods to relay anti-feminism ideas to the spectator? Can the female spectator of Kuwait cinema be considered in the same way as the female spectator of US and EU cinema? I believe Mulvey s male gaze theory will enable me to achieve a thorough study of the representation of women in Kuwaiti films and identify new areas for further studies on Kuwait cinema and film theory. Melodrama: Using the arguments advanced in the context of the debate on film melodrama (Bernink 1999 and Butler 2002) I will explore and assess the applicability of feminist propositions with regards to melodrama as a cinematic film genre to the analysis of Kuwaiti films. This will enable me to do a comparative analysis of Kuwaiti films from various perspectives: Genre and sub-genres and the role and image of women in each. Issues of audience and spectatorship in general and from feminist point of view. Social and cultural contexts. National and industrial contexts in general. The body theory: Judith Butler introduced the body theory (body and performance), which emphasizes gender studies and the performativity of discourse. Butler argues specifically for a performative understanding of gender in film. This is contrary to the idea that performance of gender is an expression of natural gender. Butler views gender as something that an individual does. Moreover, she sees it as self-making but not as a social burden, especially on the gender-neutral body (Butler, 1990). I believe that the premises of this theory will enable me to analyse stereotyping in Kuwaiti films in relation to both men and women, as well as in terms of dance. For example, identifying the norm for women s physical and psychological demeanours versus the norm for male as related by the films. As Butler says: Biological sex is also a social construction ?gender subsumes sex . In another argument she asks: if gender is the social significance that sex assumes within a given culture . . . then what, if anything, is left of sex once it has assumed its social character as gender? 2.iii) Dance theory Dance Studies and Film have an interesting relationship whereby there are films made that are exclusively concerned with dance, and there are films that include dance scenes. These films are often different in their approach and intended audience. Dance studies is important in terms of the theoretical analysis of these films because in cinema, the camera or at any rate the director orchestrating its movement- is, in a sense, the choreographer. There are spatial and physical aspects that are inherent to dance that film draws on and these combined temporal and visual abilities of dance and film develop a new expressive medium (Brannigan, 2011). Nevertheless, there is a complicated relationship between dance and film, and this cuts across various genres ranging from popular cultures to the avant-garde experimental arts and much attention is paid to the relationships across the camera, dancers and spectators. In her book, Film and the Masquerade (1982), Ann Mary Doane agrees with Erin Brannigan that cameras, dancers and spectators are the main connections between dance and film. Brannigan (2011) affirms that dance and film share a strong interest in the moving bodies and also their relations to both time and space.Practice component: Thesis chapters Bibliography Books Altork, S. (1988). Arab Women in the Field: Studying Your Own Society. S.I: Syracuse University Press. Al-Raida, N. (2008). Women and Art, Past and Present. 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The Journal of the Society for Dance Research, 12 (2), p.3. Kitaeff, L. (2003). Three Kings: Neocolonial Arab Representation. A Review of Contemporary Media, Issue 46. Olimat, M. S. (2009). Women and Politics in Kuwait. Journal of International Women s Studies, Vol. 11, 2, pp. 199-212. T??treault, M. A. (2001). A state of two minds: State cultures, women, and politics in Kuwait. International Journal of Middle East Studies, Vol. 33, 2, 203-220. Tsivian, Y. (2013). Film and Dance, Back and Forth, Experiment, Vol. 10, pp.147-155. Filmography Al-Bassam = Mutamar Al-Hamlit (2002). Directed by Sulayman Al-Bassam. Kuwait. Alhashim = Breakfast in Beirut (2015). Directed by Farah Alhashim. Lebanon. Alhashim = La Fraise (2013). Directed by Farah Alhashim. Lebanon. Al Mansour = Wadjda (2012). Directed by Haifaa Al Mansour. Netherlands. Al Qadiri = Behind the Sun (2014). Directed by Monira Al Qadiri. Germany. Al-Sanousi = Al Asifah (1965). Directed by Mohammed Al-Sanousi. Kuwait. AlSiddiq = Bas Ya Bahar (1972). Directed by Khalid AlSiddiq. Kuwait. AlSiddiq = Shaheen (1984) Directed by Khalid AlSiddiq. India. Dehn = The Spirit Moves: A History of Black Social Dance on Film, 1900-1986. (2008). Directed by Mura Dehn. USA. Mohammed = Al Samt (1976). Directed by Hashim Mohammed. Kuwait. Salih and Al Siddiq = The Wedding of Zein (1976). Directed by Khalid Al Siddiq. Kuwait.