Antigone in the London Office: documentary film, creativity and female agency

Journal article

Hawkins, M and Hawkins, M (2019). Antigone in the London Office: documentary film, creativity and female agency. Cultural Studies.
AuthorsHawkins, M and Hawkins, M

In this paper, Marta and Matthew Hawkins explore female creativity and agency through the means of documentary filmmaking. Husband and Wife is an experimental documentary concerning one woman’s journey from Poland to London, England to reclaim the body and the dignity of her husband after his death. The authors/directors discuss the process of creating a space where the life of the characters and the life of the camera merge. This creative, feminist space is what the authors term, filmiation, and they regard it as a space of mutual influence between themselves, the protagonist and their documentary film.
In their investigation of the protagonist’s journey from her Polish home town to the city of London, they all become affected by the process of filmmaking itself and by the widow’s relentless resourcefulness in her mission to reclaim the body of her husband. To understand the widow’s tenacious approach of dealing with UK institutions, as well as her mourning, the authors refer to the feminist theories of Lucy Irigaray, and Judith Butler, who offer different conceptualisations of female identity and ethical agency. Drawing upon Irigaray, and Butler’s analysis of Antigone, the cinematic picture of the Polish widow’s commitment to her husband’s post-mortem civic dignity is compared to the commitment of Sophocles’ heroine, who transgressed the patriarchal order attributed only to proper, male citizens. In their argument, the authors of the paper discuss the definition of otherness, as a mode of creative and ultimate resistance that both Antigone and the Polish widow embody, as women acting in the patriarchal world. In their documentary, the authors-directors articulate Polish Antigone’s act of resistance through the angle of female interiority, which in cinema is more characteristic of male protagonists. In that way they reflect the incomprehensible agency of a woman, that is gained through her gendered performance, her creativity and her everyday existence in the world of men.

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article to be published by Taylor & Francis in Cutural Studies, available online:

KeywordsDocumentary; filmiation; femininity; creativity; otherness
JournalCultural Studies
PublisherTaylor & Francis (Routledge)
Publication process dates
Deposited17 Jul 2019
Accepted16 Jul 2019
Accepted author manuscript
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License: CC BY 4.0
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Related outputs

The Concept of Affective Tonality, and the Role of the Senses in Producing a Cinematic Narrative
Hawkins, M (2018). The Concept of Affective Tonality, and the Role of the Senses in Producing a Cinematic Narrative. PhD Thesis University of East London School of Arts and Digital Industries