LOVE ON THE BRAIN
Melodrama has always been a broad and widely popular film genre, but it has also been regarded as "inferior" and "embarrassing" since its inception, and in fact for many decades it has been the subject of widespread jokes and parodies. This leads to a strange paradox: on the one hand it’s not appropriate to discuss it, or even to admit that we’re following the onscreen love affairs of its flush-cheeked characters. But meanwhile, as statistics and cultural studies show, it’s one of the most eagerly followed genres, and not just by its traditional target audience of women, as established back in the Golden Era of Hollywood. Harmful gender stereotypes largely drove the narratives of traditional movie romances, and still persist in certain films today. Case in point: the iconic productions of Douglas Sirk, whose films certainly defined the canon of storytelling about the thorny road to emotional fulfilment for a central pair of lovers. According to this formula, femininity is passive, idle and submissive, whereas masculinity is active, dynamic and dominant. The melodramas screened within this year's special section of Mastercard OFF CAMERA subvert these oppressive formulas, but also play with the conventions of traditional film romance that are driven by prejudices around race, class, gender and sexuality, while still taking us on an emotional rollercoaster with the main characters, full of twists and turns. In the process, these films show how everyone is entitled to more than just celluloid love.