SOCIETY: Woman is the sequel to Yann Arthus-Bertrand's panoramic portrait of humanity, this time focusing on the female part of the world's population.
Aleksander Huser
Huser is a regular contributor to Modern Times Review.
Published date: April 21, 2020

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In the more than three hours long documentary Human from 2015, the French photographer and filmmaker Yann Arthus-Bertrand let people from all over the world talk about their lives straight into the camera – and thus directly to us as spectators. In total, he had interviewed 2020 people from 60 different countries, all of whom were asked the same questions, filmed against a neutral, black background.

This resulted in a film that highlighted both inequalities and similarities between us and made the audience reflect on what it means to be human. Human appealed to the spectator’s empathy, being a portrait of humanity in general that underlined the importance of humanitarianism in particular.

Brutal and heart-warming

As the title suggests, the sequel portrays the female part of the world’s population, using the same form and approach. Therefore, it feels timely that Arthus-Bertrand isn’t the sole director this time, but shares the task with the female Ukrainian-born journalist and filmmaker Anastasia Mikova. The new film is based on interviews they did with 2000 women from a total of 50 countries.

Like the previous film, Woman is divided into different thematic sections, addressing different aspects of what it means to be a woman. Already from the opening sequence, where a woman tells about her experience of being a victim of human trafficking, it becomes clear that the film does not shy away from the violence and abuse the women of the world are exposed to. But the many confessions also contain humorous and heart-warming moments.

A man’s world?

With such a gender-based premise, this project is in some danger of emphasizing a romanticised perception of females as opposed to males – and the world hardly needs another pretentious, old-fashioned tribute to womanhood. Fortunately, Woman avoids this, simply by letting the women speak for …

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