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Genre, Authorship and Contemporary Women Filmmakers$
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Katarzyna Paszkiewicz

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781474425261

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474425261.001.0001

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Genre in the Margins: Kelly Reichardt’s Meek’s Cutoff

Genre in the Margins: Kelly Reichardt’s Meek’s Cutoff

(p.134) 4. Genre in the Margins: Kelly Reichardt’s Meek’s Cutoff
Genre, Authorship and Contemporary Women Filmmakers

Katarzyna Paszkiewicz

Edinburgh University Press

In view of the historical co-implication of popular genres and the Hollywood film industry, it might be expected that the latter should be at the vanguard of women’s genre filmmaking. Yet women directors who draw on genre cinema might, in fact, be proportionally more numerous in American independent cinema. One such director who builds in various ways on popular genres (in particular, the Western and the road movie) is Kelly Reichardt. This chapter asks, thus, what it means for a woman to use a popular genre in an independent filmmaking context. It shows how Reichardt’s authorship and biographical legend are constructed in close relation to the processes of legitimisation of independent cinema, conceptualised discursively in opposition to Hollywood (and genre). The second part of the chapter focuses specifically on Meek’s Cutoff (2010) – a Western film which was incorporated into the auteurist discourse of resistance towards genre and exceptional individual achievement. It will be argued that, while Meek’s Cutoff seems to be diametrically opposed to genre cinema, since it offers a radical revision of the Western genre conventions, it also draws on the productive potential of generic logic based on variation within reiteration (Neale 1980).

Keywords:   Western, road movie, authorship, genre, women filmmakers, biographical legend, independent cinema, Kelly Reichardt, Meek’s Cutoff

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