Converse College and Wofford College will host writer and director Ellen Weissbrod for a screening and discussion of her acclaimed film, "A Woman Like That," at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 9, in Converse's Hartness Auditorium.
The film explores the life and work of Artemisia Gentileschi, a 17th century painter who was the first woman admitted to the Accademia del Disegno in Florence, Italy, and is renowned for her strength in overcoming personal and professional struggles throughout her life. The event, which is funded by a Wofford College Cultural Affairs grant and the NEH Visiting Scholars Program at Converse, is open to the public with free admission.
'A Woman Like That' offers a positive portrayal of a woman by a successful woman filmmaker, as an alternative to the often degrading representations of women we see in today's media.
In addition to her participation in the film screening, Weissbrod also will be a guest lecturer in Wofford professor Karen Goodchild's "Gender in Renaissance and Baroque Art" class. Goodchild and Converse professor Zan Schuweiler, who both teach art history, have collaborated to bring Weissbrod to the two campuses.
For Converse students, the screening of "A Woman Like That" continues the discussion of issues brought to light by another recent film screening as part of the college's Women's History Month series. "In early March, we explored how the media defines the value of women and girls through the film screening of 'Miss Representation,' and the ideas and responses from our standing-room only crowd have continued to percolate since then," said Schuweiler. "Weissbrod's 'A Woman Like That' offers a positive portrayal of a woman by a successful woman filmmaker, as an alternative to the often degrading representations of women we see in today's media."
Goodchild looks forward to having the filmmaker visit with students in her class, noting, "Weissbrod attempts to parallel the struggles Artemisia confronted in her own time, the ongoing issues raised for a male-centered society by women's creative process, and the hurdles women artists still face. I couldn't think of a better film and speaker to help my students see both that gender issues have a history and that they continue to resonate in our lives today."
"A Woman Like That" has been featured on NPR and in numerous print and online publications. Critics have praised the way Weissbrod weaves aspects of her own personal and career experiences into the story of Artemisia. In particular, it has touched a nerve with feminist writers such as Gloria Steinem. "Lovely! Brings a historical figure into present-day life," she wrote.
As a female artist, Artemisia had to fight for respect and financial compensation for her work. She also faced a tumultuous personal life. A victim of rape as a young woman, she suffered a failed marriage and was forced to raise a family on her own. "She was very determined to make her own life," Weissbrod said.
She added she enjoys watching her film with new audiences and talking with college students, in particular. "(The film) is about art and about my journey to tell Artemisia's story and about how one gets to make art and meaningful work in the world. It's very emotional...people can relate to her."