Review: De la cuisine au parlement: Édition 2021
- Stéphane Goël offers up a journey through a century of Swiss history in which women fought to break free from the suffocating walls of domesticity
On 7 February 2021, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of universal suffrage in Switzerland, Swiss director Stéphane Goël unveiled a new version of his medium-length work from 2012 De la cuisine au parlement. The result is De la cuisine au parlement: Édition 2021 [+see also:
film profile], a feature-length documentary which has been “revisited” by way of the addition of an extra 25 minutes, which not only allows the director to develop the theme of female suffrage in even greater depth and force, but also (and primarily) that of the female struggle in Switzerland over the past one hundred years: maternity coverage, equal pay, the right to abortion and the issue of sexual assault. Presented online in January at Solothurn Film Days, the film is now competing within the Grand Réportage competition of the FIFDH, co-presented by RTS and Geneva’s Bureau for Equality and the Prevention of Violence (BPEV).
Through the testimonies of women who fought for equality and equal rights - Patricia Schulz, Brigitte Studer, Marthe Gosteli, Simone Chapuis-Bischof, Amélia Christinat, Gabrielle Nanchen, Elisabeth Kopp, Ruth Dreifuss, Marina Carobbio Guscetti and Tamara Funiciello – but also through a mind-blowing wealth of archive material (in which some moving activist testimonies), Stéphane Goël shows us what has already been achieved and how much still remains to be done. From the first suffragette protests in the nineteen twenties to the now famous feminist strike in 2019, De la cuisine au parlément opens up a window onto this battle ground, following in the tracks of women who fought to escape the “kitchen”, the patriarchal and heteronormative society which viewed them only as wives and mothers. The film would have benefitted from pointing out the huge number of feminist battles at play (and the many interpretations of feminism itself), rather than limiting itself to intersectional, materialist and post-modern feminism, not to mention queer theory, yet Goël nonetheless succeeds in tackling a highly sensitive topic, and he does so by turning his gaze to the folds of a society - that of Switzerland - which needs to come to terms with a not-always-dazzling past. Indeed, Switzerland was one of the last countries in the world to grant women the right and the eligibility to vote. Thanks to - or rather, in this instance, on account of - a direct democracy which granted its people (who, until 7 February 1971, were considered an inviolable male body) the right to state their position on Parliamentary decisions or to formulate proposals for constitutional change, “Swiss men” (representative of what R.W. Connel describes as “hegemonic masculinity”) managed to prevent “women” (understood as a social construct) from taking up positions in political spheres. As Stéphane Goël highlights, it took a century of fighting and no fewer than eighty votes to convince “Swiss men” to renounce a share of their privileges. But can we now say that equal rights and gender equality (transcending sterile binarism) are in the bag? The answer to this question is decidedly more complicated than believed, and the ground that has been won increasingly fragile and precarious. Fighting is fast becoming a necessity if we wish to hope for a fairer, freer and, fundamentally, inclusive world (from all points of view!).
De la cuisine au parlement: Édition 2021 is produced by Association Climage and RTS Radio Télévison Suisse. Association Climage are also handling international sales, while distribution, courtesy of First Hand Films, is scheduled for June 2021.
(Translated from French)
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