Utopias, Magic Realism and Rebellious Spirits: Films of Christine Parker 1990 to 2000
AffiliationUniversity of Derby, College of Arts
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AbstractAbstract: Utopias, Magic Realism and Rebellious Spirits: Films by Christine Parker 1990-2000. “The More You Look, the more THERE IS to see…” From Hinekaro Goes on a Picnic and Blows up Another Obelisk (Christine Parker, Oceania Parker, 1995) In the 1990s New Zealand was in the grip of free market fundamentalism, neo-liberal deregulation of the economy having begun in the mid-eighties. The Maori protest movement was a major source of societal conflict and feminism had become the ‘F’ word. This study examines my writing and directing during the 1990s in New Zealand. It is proposed that the films contributed to national and international conversations around feminism, colonial struggles, spirituality and the supernatural. It is argued that these works offer a social critique of neoliberalism and the divisive effects of it, on women in particular. In the context of this appraisal neoliberalism is understood to be a set of beliefs that support the functioning of the global free market, with minimal government regulation, except to protect the functioning of private enterprise and the ownership of private property. The short films One Man’s Meat (1991), Peach (1993), and Hinekaro Goes on a Picnic and Blows up Another Obelisk (1995) and the feature film Channelling Baby (1999) are located in an oeuvre of female, Gay, and Maori film makers and artists responding to this environment. The recurrence of alternative utopias, the use of magic realism and the representation of the spiritual and supernatural in my work are also considered in relation to other films made in the period. A case is made that the films were part of a small vanguard of films responding to the 1990s status quo by offering alternative modes of discourse to the dominant economic rationalism. Rich in visual intensity and heightened narrative tropes, such as irony and fragmented narratives, my aesthetic choices, together with recurring themes of chance and fate, agency and identity, are considered to link the films together as a coherent study. While the works are located in an evolving feminist tradition in the 1990s, their continued relevance today, particularly in relation to foregrounding marginal voices and the disruption of dominant paradigms and expectations of female behaviour and identity, underpin the claim for originality.
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