SOPAC foreign film club explores role of gender in new series

By Marianne Datu

Since the inception of La Cinémathèque Film Club, every season had a majority of men-directed films, but this season the theme has shifted and instead, will be showing “Seven Beauties” on Oct. 15, one of the four woman-directed foreign films in a new series currently screening at the South Orange Performing Arts Center.

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Gerard Amsellem, founder and director of SOPAC’s La Cinémathèque Film Club

The film, directed by Lina Wertmüller of Italy, is especially important for Gerard Amsellem, founder and director of La Cinémathèque Film Club. He found that women directors in the film industry are marginally underrepresented and that only 10 percent of films are directed by women and of that, about 7 percent are actually successful.

“The vision of the woman making a film and the sensibility is very special, so I chose all these women for my film series and all of them, has a very, very great sensitivity of being woman and looking at the world through the woman’s eyes,” Amsellem told S.O. Loud.

For “Seven Beauties,” Amsellem invited Francesca Degiuli, a sociology professor at Farleigh Dickinson University, to speak about the societal aspects of women in Italy.

“I thought that this is a great thing to do and I thought maybe if I could add something to what they’re doing that would be great and help advance the club and women in society,” Degiuli said in a phone interview.

Degiuli will speak on what the women’s movement looked like during that time in Italy and in the United States at the same time and the women’s movement in general.

“We want to bring awareness to people and educate them because a lot of people don’t know. Even foreign film, it’s about 8 percent of the world market with foreign film, people don’t know foreign film, nothing is doing to pushing that,” Amsellem said.’

Amsellem has seen the club’s attendance grow consistently over the years, but he said he still encourages newcomers, especially younger people, to attend as well.

Taken by Marianne Datu

“Even if it’s one person or two people looking at and watching it saying, Oh let me look and see what it is. It’s a plus,” he said.

In showing woman-directed foreign films, Amsellem believes these films are worth watching and hopes it will get people talking and learn more about this world of underrepresented women directors. As an educator and film director himself, Amsellem said he is trying to make a statement showing this series as well as extending it into the next season.

“In the spring of next year, I do another four, so it’s been, uh, really interesting for me. Instead of doing just one series on one topic. In the same time, at the South Orange Public Library, I do another five films of women directors,” Amsellem said.

At the South Orange Public Library, the club will be showing complementary films alongside their new series. “Lost in Translation” directed by Sofia Coppola of the United States is set to screen on Oct. 26 and “Mustang” directed by Deniz Gamze Ergüven of Turkey on Nov. 30.

Upcoming films set to screen at the SOPAC include: “Europa Europa” directed by Agnieszka Holland of Poland on Nov. 12; “Take My Eyes” directed by Icíar Bollaín of Spain on Dec. 17. The films range from different countries and different years, starting from 1962 to the present.

All screenings at the South Orange Public Library are free and open to the public.



For more information on La Cinémathèque Film Club membership, click here.

Questions about La Cinémathèque Film Club can be directed to Gerard Amsellem at


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