Absorbed by the super fast montage of a thousand different clips that make up Alina Marazzi’s incredible documentary film ‘We Want Roses Too’ (Vogliamo Anche Le Rose, 2007), one scene jumped from the screen and fizzled in my brain. I’ll tell you why later.
It’s a film made up entirely from womens personal film footage (biographical and documentary), TV representations of ‘women’, feature film clips and to a much lesser extent news footage. Accompanying the scenes, diary entries are narrated from three different women’s personal accounts of the time.
Marazzi’s film is a short history of a particular time in early 1970’s Italy when women, from a series of contextual tensions, created a mass women’s movement. This was not in anyway a mirror of the revolutionary Left movement of the times although its reflections are often caught in passing. This was revolutionary upheaval against the weight of family life, motherhood, domesticity, femininity, a history and culture told/made only by men, silence and invisibility, and the sense of ‘equality’ if it was to be only, in the end, in relation to men.
The sensory overload of images both beautiful and disturbing (and the accompanying emotional overload!) becomes the narrative of that movement. Here everything comes together: from the melancholy shot of woman impatiently waiting in an alley to the woman who walks alone in a Piazza, her steps taken in contemplative solitude and freedom. Here shots from a Super 8 film of a woman at her mirror trying on ‘outfits’. There a woman’s barefoot walk over a frozen lake. Here, woman together smoke and talk in the Women’s centre. There, a filmed walk through the same now empty building, the wall graffiti and posters still in tact years later. At one point, women discuss with men in a college class, housework and being a wife, at another point thousands of women march in the streets, their hands raised above their heads, clasped in the powerful (and male scaring!) triangle symbol of the movement.
This is a montage of both fast and slow times. It’s a recollection of both the joys and pains of self/collective discovery.
Although I have seen endless clips of men spray-painting slogans on walls during demos, I don’t remember ever seeing a clip of a woman doing the same.
Here, leaping out from the film, a woman with a casual nonchalance and self-power, sprays a on a wall. Not only does she do this in her own time but she is observed by a crowd of men who do not interfere or comment. They seem to her to be invisible. When she finishes the slogan by adding the women’s symbol, she walks away towards, shaking her spray can, readying it for further use and she smiles, to herself, for herself. In the background we read what she has written: ‘Io Sono Mia’ (I Belong To Me).
The film is full of these kind of moments. Not a mere collection of head-on clips of women’s political action or political discourse but biography, play, revelation, discovery, confusion, personality, creativity, fear, separatism, dissolution, completion, laughter and sharing cigarettes, political mobilization and street politics, occupation, presence and affinity, boundaries and border crossings, escapes of sensuality and sexuality, and somewhere too - attempts by men to listen, see and grasp all of the above, for everyone.