Marleen Gorris (born 9 December 1948) is a Dutch writer and director. Gorris is known as an outspoken feminist and supporter of gay and lesbian issues which is reflected in much of her work. In 1995 she won an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film for Antonia's Line, this made her the first woman to direct a movie that won an Oscar for Best Foreign Film.[1]

Marleen Gorris
Marleen Gorris (1982).jpg
Marleen Gorris (1982)
Born (1948-12-09) 9 December 1948 (age 71)
Roermond, Netherlands
OccupationFilm director, screenwriter
Known forAntonia's Line (1995)

Early lifeEdit

Marleen Gorris was born on 9 December 1948 in Roermond in the Netherlands.[2] She was born to Protestant, working-class parents in the Catholic, southern part of the Netherlands.[3] Gorris studied drama at home and abroad.[2] She studied drama at the University of Amsterdam and has an MA in Drama from the University of Birmingham, England.[1]

She began working as a filmmaker with almost no previous experience in the cinema and made an auspicious writing and directorial debut in 1982 with A Question of Silence.[2] The Dutch government provided the funding to finance the project.[4]


Early workEdit

It was not until the age of 30 that Gorris began writing scripts.[3] Gorris took her first effort to the Belgian filmmaker Chantal Akerman, hoping to interest her in directing it.[3] Akerman, however, told Gorris that she must make the film herself. The result, A Question of Silence (1982), caused considerable international controversy with its story about three unacquainted women who murder a randomly chosen man; the film was hailed by some as a logical case study of what happens when women are driven to the brink by a male-dominated society, and others decried it as a juvenile revenge fantasy.[2] Gorris was honored in her homeland with the Netherlands' Golden Calf Award and earned a reputation as a subversive new filmmaker.[2]

Gorris followed up A Question of Silence with Broken Mirrors (1984). Set among a group of prostitutes in an Amsterdam brothel, the film re-examined some of the themes at play in Gorris' previous feature, particularly in its analysis of the patriarchy.[2] It was greeted with mixed reactions; many critics recognized it as an insightful, disturbing look at the sexual threats (both literal and metaphorical) directed at women in everyday life.[2]

Gorris did not make another film until 1990, when she directed The Last Island (1991). The film, which told the story of a group of people (two women and five men) and a dog stranded on an island, was dubbed by one critics as "a feminist Lord of the Flies for the '90s."

International success with Antonia's LineEdit

Gorris had her greatest international success to date in 1995 with Antonia's Line (1995). The story of an independent woman (Willeke van Ammelrooy) and her descendants was not as radical as the director's previous work, although a number of critics complained that the men in the film were portrayed as either ineffectual idiots or potential rapists. However, critical support for the film was overwhelming, and it was honored with a number of international awards, including a Golden Calf and an Academy Award for Best Foreign Film.[2]

Her next film was Mrs Dalloway (1997), based on the novel by Virginia Woolf, with a cast that included Vanessa Redgrave, Rupert Graves, and Natascha McElhone, the film earned a number of international honors, including an Evening Standard British Film Award.[2] She followed this movie with The Luzhin Defence (2000), based upon a novel by Vladimir Nabokov. The film tells the story of the love affair between an eccentric chess champion (John Turturro) and a strong-willed society woman (Emily Watson).[2]

She then directed the film Carolina (2003) starring Julia Stiles, Shirley MacLaine, and Alessandro Nivola, which was released direct-to-video in 2005.

Recent workEdit

Gorris's 2009 film Within the Whirlwind is set during Joseph Stalin's Great Purge and based on the chief protagonist Evgenia Ginzburg's account of her experience of those years. A literature professor, she is falsely convicted of anti-Soviet agitation and sentenced to 10 years hard labor in a Soviet concentration camp. Within the Whirlwind has not been picked up for distribution. According to Watson, "It was delivered pretty much the day the market crashed so nobody was buying anything. You have to be very Zen. Walk away and say: 'I have no idea what’s going to happen and it’s not in my hands.’ At the same time you never quite think that's going to happen."[5]



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