Brainwashed poster featuring an eye in the center

Brainwashed: Sex-Camera-Power investigates the politics of cinematic shot design, and how this meta-level of filmmaking intersects with the twin epidemics of sexual abuse/assault and employment discrimination against women, with over 175 movie clips from 1896-2020. It may change how you look at movies—and further promote the struggle for women’s equality in ways you didn’t expect.

The Guardian‘s Peter Bradshaw describes the documentary as director Nina Menkes working to show us that “the way the camera looks at women, and everything else, is not a transparent, value-free business. On the contrary: with men so overwhelmingly in charge, it is an activity of coercion and imposition, determined by gender politics. And sexuality as it appears on screen is not the natural, unmediated free expression of equal pleasure, but deeply embedded in male power relations.”

Bradshaw further adds “Brainwashed is a bracing blast of critical rigour, taking a clear, cool look at the unexamined assumptions behind what we see on the screen… It all happens within the duality of subject and object; male desirer (with whom the audience is often tacitly invited to make common cause) and the female desiree. This is the anode and cathode of the male gaze, the male gaze’s voltage and electromotive force.”

This film opens soon. In the meantime, check out what’s now showing and what else is upcoming.