The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

FilmScene hosts ‘Barbie Boot Camp’

Ballerinas, French girls, and mermaids; classic films light up FilmScene before “Barbie” premiere.
Cody Blissett
A projector runs during the premiere of The Daily Iowan Documentary Workshop’s feature film, Lost In The In-between: Graduating Into 2020, at the Chauncey at FilmScene in Iowa City on Thursday, May 4, 2023. The film follows five Iowa graduates as they find their place in the world post graduation during a global pandemic.

When the teaser trailer for Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie” first dropped in December 2022, it was presented with all the grandeur of the moon landing: sweeping visuals, godlike narration, and the dramatic score from “2001: A Space Odyssey” introduced us to a world where the iconic doll —dressed in her original 1950s garb — is shown through the eyes of the little girls who worship her. 

Now, the countdown for “Barbie” has officially begun, and FilmScene is gearing up for the premiere with its unofficial “Barbie Boot Camp.” Inspired by lead actress Margot Robbie’s alleged Letterboxd list titled “Watch for Barbie,” FilmScene will showcase the films “The Red Shoes,” “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg,” and “Splash” throughout July. 

Programming Assistant Jane Keranen, who oversaw the film selection for “Barbie Boot Camp,” hopes these movies provide insight into the canon of dreamy, women-led films with complex heroines and fantastical storylines. 

“I think there is this kind of common thread between all of the films of young women drawn between two paths [and] being forced to reckon with a piece of them they’ve never had to reckon with before,” Keranen said. “I feel like if that’s any indication of what the ‘Barbie’ movie is going to be about, I’m excited that it’ll be added to this canon of women in fantastical situations trying to figure themselves out.” 

Unlike “Barbie,” the films featured in “Barbie Boot Camp” were all directed by men which speaks to the historical disparity of women in cinema. 

“I am interested in seeing this narrative that’s been told time and time again through the lens of a woman filmmaker,” Keranen said. “I think that’s been a missing piece in a lot of films like this. Women have not necessarily been afforded the same place in the directorial world. I’m excited to see ‘Barbie’ because Greta Gerwig handles women’s stories with so much care and kindness, and gentleness and security.” 

It is important to consider how these films fit into the lineage of male filmmakers attempting to tell women’s stories. The theory of “the male gaze” — first coined in 1975 by feminist film scholar Laura Mulvey — stated that women in cinema exist only in the limited, objectified male perspective, lacking nuance or depth. 

For instance, while “The Red Shoes” provided a visual feast for the eyes, the story of a woman forced to choose between love and art ended in a gratuitous tragedy. 

Unfortunately, this follows in the long storytelling tradition of punishing complex women characters, instead of granting them cinematic space to be fully human. 

It is expected that Gerwig will subvert this trope in “Barbie.” Likewise, with her film, “Little Women” (2019), Gerwig is known for expanding upon classic source material in refreshing and unexpected ways, a feat that moviegoers look forward to seeing once again. 

Madeline Kelley, who was in the audience at “The Red Shoes” screening, offered some of her thoughts on its connection to “Barbie.” 

“She couldn’t give up dancing for love, so I think Barbie won’t be able to give up being Barbie for the real world,” Kelley said. “The cinematography was amazing, and the film editing was so good for the time. I can see how she draws inspiration.”

She also praised “The Red Shoes” for its stylistic cinematography, also clearly influential for Gerwig. 

Evidently, “Barbie Boot Camp” has already been a profound experience for Iowa City movie lovers. Programming Director, Ben Delgado, who has been with FilmScene for two years, recognizes the significance of hosting this film series, and believes this film series will open up the Iowa City community to much-needed film history.

“I’m willing to bet there are very few, if any, other places where you’ll get the opportunity to see the films in the ‘Barbie Boot Camp’ series along with ‘Barbie’ itself,” Delgado said. “There is no doubt that the release of ‘Barbie’ is poised to have a fairly big cultural impact. Presenting it at FilmScene will give folks the opportunity to see it with the best picture and sound quality around.” 

“The Red Shoes” has already been shown at FilmScene, but the moviegoers can still catch “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” on Thursday, July 13 at 7:15 p.m., and “Splash” on Sunday, July 16 at 3:30 p.m., and Tuesday, July 18 at 7 p.m. 

“If you’re lucky enough to catch some of the films in the repertory series leading up to it, it will hopefully give you that much deeper of an appreciation for ‘Barbie’ as well,” Delgado said. 


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About the Contributor
Cody Blissett
Cody Blissett, Visuals Editor
Cody Blissett is a visual editor at The Daily Iowan. He is a third year student at the University of Iowa studying cinema and screenwriting. This is his first year working for The Daily Iowan.