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28 min. French.

S.C.U.M. Manifesto stages a reading of Valerie Solanas’s eponymous manifesto from 1967. As news images of male-dominated world events flicker across the television screen, Delphine Seyrig disseminates Valerie Solanas’s theses on men – who, according to the manifesto, are both biologically incomplete and driven by vagina envy.

Carole Roussopoulos was born in Lausanne, Switzerland in 1945; she died in 2009. She studied in Lausanne and moved to Paris in 1967, where she founded the militant video collective “Video Out” with her future husband. In 1970, on the advice of her friend Jean Genet, she bought a portable video camera and shot her first film, Genet parle d’Angela Davis. In 1982, together with Delphine Seyrig and Ioana Wieder, she founded the Centre audiovisuel Simone de Beauvoir, the first archive for audiovisual works with a feminist emphasis. Her extensive filmography comprises more than one hundred works.

Delphine Seyrig was born in Beirut, Lebanon in 1932 and spent her childhood by turns in the Middle East and the United States. In 1952, she began an acting career in France. In 1956, she trained at the Actors Studio in New York. For her first film role, she acted in Robert Frank’s Pull My Daisy (USA, 1959); in the 1960s and 1970s, she acted in films by Alain Resnais, François Truffaut, Luis Buñuel, Jacques Demy, and Chantal Akerman. At the same time, Seyrig joined the women’s movement that formed in the aftermath of May ’68. In the early 1970s, in the milieu of Carole Roussopoulos, she discovered the possibilities of working with video; among other things, in 1976, she and Roussopoulos shot the feminist film S.C.U.M. Manifesto. Together with Ioana Wieder and Carole Roussopoulos, in 1982 she founded the Centre audiovisuel Simone de Beauvoir, and served as its president until her death in 1990.

A true utopia

Book in hand, Delphine Seyrig faces the director, Carole Roussopoulos, who sits at a typewriter. In the background, a television screen shows live images without sound from a current news broadcast. Delphine Seyrig begins reading the “S.C.U.M. Manifesto” (1) by Valerie Solanas (2) and Roussopoulos types the text. The clatter of the typewriter keys, the recurring noise of the carriage return and the actress’s voice are layered over one another, creating an omnipresent sound whose rhythm accompanies our discovery of the text. The first sentences declare that “the male is a biological accident, an incomplete female, a walking abortion. To be male is to be deficient.”
From time to time, Roussopoulos stops typing and turns the volume up on the television. We hear reporters comment on various armed conflicts (the camera draws closer to the images) and see anti-war demonstrations by pacifist Catholic and Protestant women in Ireland. (3) A journalist remarks, “The IRA has trained them as collaborators”.
Delphine Seyrig resumes reading Solanas’ text. Carole Roussopoulos continues typing up the text. The camera is back in a fixed position, the shot composition is the same as at the start of the film. Carole Roussopoulos stops typing and listens closely to Seyrig while smoking a cigarette. Solanas’ text draws a parallel between “getting laid” and “making war”. The news broadcast shows police violence in Argentina and more women’s protests in Belfast. Solanas’ text is finished, Carole Roussopoulos pulls the sheet of paper out of the typewriter, Delphine Seyrig stands up, and both walk out of the picture.
The structuring of the images clearly lays out the place and meaning of the film’s three characters/objects: Carole Roussopoulos as the text’s mediator, Delphine Seyrig as reader of Valerie Solanas’ S.C.U.M. Manifesto, and the television presenting images in counterpoint to the text. The “Manifesto” is a true utopia that inverts power relations so as to better denounce a situation that has become normality: the state of permanent war, waged by men throughout the world. In voice-over, Carole Roussopoulos explains that since Solanas’ S.C.U.M. is no longer available in French or English, they decided to transform several passages of the book into sound and image. (Nicole Fernandez Ferrer,  Centre audiovisuel Simone de Beauvoir)

(1) S.C.U.M. = Society for Cutting Up Men
(2) Valerie Solanas was born in New Jersey in 1936. In 1967, she wrote the “S.C.U.M. Manifesto”, which she self-published that same year. Her other works include pornographic novellas. In 1968, she shot Andy Warhol, whom she accused of refusing to finance one of her plays. She died in 1988. 
(3) In August 1966, three children were killed during a clash between members of the IRA and the police. Consequently, the Women’s Peace Movement was born, a large movement bringing together women from both denominations. 


Production Les insoumuses. Directed by Carole Roussopoulos, Delphine Seyrig. Cinematography Carole Roussopoulos, Delphine Seyrig. Editing Carole Roussopoulos, Delphine Seyrig. Sound Carole Roussopoulos, Delphine Seyrig. With Carole Roussopoulos, Delphine Seyrig.

World sales Centre audiovisuel Simone de Beauvoir

Digital restoration by the studio of the Audiovisual Department of the Bibliothèque nationale de France.

Photo: © Centre audiovisuel Simone de Beauvoir

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