The film narrative moves away from the history of suffragettes and looks at a different angle, focusing on the discrimination against Edwardian women in general, starting from girlhood. In Hysterical Females the protagonist is subjected to discrimination through the eyes of a politician, a husband and dowager. The film refers to historical behaviours, attitudes and beliefs, bringing the story into a contemporary surreal world.
The film was screened at Ilfracombe Film Festival and other venues celebrating the centenary of women's suffrage in 2018.
'Just wanted to say we saw Hysterical Females last night at Leyden Gallery in London and loved it. Just rewatched it and wanted to say thank you to you- it is technically superb, with wonderful sentiments and out of the many films at the gallery, it really stood out'
Angela and James Tubbs, visitors at the Video Art Film Club, Leyden Gallery
Esther, a young, curious but naïve woman in Edwardian times, explores a visually inviting but uncomfortable world where there’s a struggle between power and freedom. In this domineering patriarchal society women are treated as victims and represented as automated, unconscious and desired objects. This world is a conflation of the Surrealist’s notion of convulsive beauty with Freud’s the uncanny. Men are the masterful creators and women dismembered, punched and severed art objects. Their owners devour their soul and body, empowering the right of habeas corpus, resulting in the woman becoming an animated inanimate human. The protagonist is a living doll, a fusion between a toy and a young woman (Walter 2010, p2), converted into an uncanny animated lifeless object. She is an effigy ready to be damaged and destroyed. Although the era is based over 100 years ago, thoughts and feelings of women are revealed from both yesteryear and today, posing questions about the similarities of attitudes, identities and desires. However this world isn’t only controlled by men but also by outdated influential women that prod and manipulate innocent girls. This figure is both powerful and controlling in this disturbing anti-utopian society. The narrative is part reality and part fantasy, being both disruptive and disjointed, with an emergence of the relevance and irrelevant. A rebellion, a radical change is required to overcome and deconstruct the oppositions and boundaries of the patriarchal thought. The appearance of an angel signifies entering another world. Her function is of prophecy, communication and guidance (Allmer 2009, p.12). She is a suffragette, a savour of the women of today.
Allmer, P. (2009) Angels of anarchy: women artists and surrealism. Munich; London: Prestel. Walter, N., (2010) Living Doll: The Return of Sexism. London: Virago Press.