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Publication Date



UM campus only

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Interdisciplinary Studies (Graduate)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Ralph Heyndels - Committee Chair

Second Committee Member

William Rothman - Committee Member

Third Committee Member

Christina Lane - Committee Member

Fourth Committee Member

Guido Ruggiero - Committee Member


This dissertation is an attempt to understand how early twenty-first century French films (2000-2002) position themselves in relation to late twentieth century feminist public discourse in France. More specifically, this study will examine how cinematic narratives are modifiers of feminist debate. Four selected films are analyzed for this research: Catherine Breillat's Fat Girl (2002), Patrice Leconte's Girl on the Bridge (2000), Pascale Bailly's God is Great and I am not (2002), and Agnes Varda's The Gleaners and I (2001). The study focuses on how these four films illustrate the historical moment of the changing role of French women in society, as they move from a more private sphere to a larger public sphere. Following a renewed feminist debate in the 1990s, both male and female film directors express their ideas on this public discourse, that of the future role of women in French society. These films depict, through the narrative medium of cinema, proposals for a revised role of women, with its assets and its difficulties. Often, there is a merging of the private and public realms of the woman protagonist's life. A critical reading of each of the four chosen films for study traces the methods used by directors to depict a public debate, focusing on those techniques unique to film. This study shows the power of cinema to construct, propose, question and/or resolve potential real-life situations in relation to a historical public discourse.


French Feminism; Cinema; French Studies; Film