Zanny Begg & Elise McLeod

Zanny Begg & Elise McLeod

City of Ladies


randomly generated samples (20 mins)

Production: Company Vs
Software development: Andrew Nicholson
DOP: Laurent Chalet
Audio Design: James Brown
Actors: Marie Rosselet Ruiz, Tasmin Jamlaoui, Sonia Amori, Juliette Speck, Coline Beal, Garance Kim, Katia Miran and the voice of David Seigneur
With the participation of: Hélène Cixous, Silvia Federici, Sam Bourcier, Fatima Ezzahra Benomar, Sharone Omankoy & Françoise Picq.
Music: Mere Women, La Catastrophe and La Parisienne Libérée
Audio Recording: Pascal Oberweiler
Continuity: Margot Seban
Grading: Yanni Kroenberg
Translation: Venla Coadic, Estelle Hoen


The 20-minute video installation The City of Ladies (2017) by Zanny Begg & Elise McLeod is composed of somewhat randomly generated fragments of a film made in cooperation with young activists and feminists in Paris. Each time the film is screened, these fragments are reconnected in different ways, creating more than 300 000 possible narratives that generate multiple interpretations of feminism. The project is the product of a collaboration between Zanny Begg and Elise McLeod, a Paris-based Australian director, inspired by the 15th century proto-feminist novel of the same name, and written by the first French professional female writer Christine de Pizan. The Book of the City of Ladies was written in 1402, and it portrays a utopian city built, populated and ruled by women. Pizan wanted to subvert masculine versions of history by describing what she named feminania – a pro-women worldview.

Zanny Begg is an artist and filmmaker interested in exploring the archaeology of contested history/ies and the architecture of social change. She works with film, drawings and installations to explore ways in which we can live and be in the world differently. This includes working with macro-political themes, such as alter-globalization protests, and in micro-political worlds, such as with children in prison. Her work is often collaborative; in The City of Ladies she collaborated with the Paris-based Australian film director Elise McLeod, a childhood friend with whom Begg reconnected through a shared interest in film and feminism.

Elise McLeod is a Paris based Australian film and theatre director who holds an honors degree in directing from the University of Paris VIII. She has directed several films, including Love, lies and the internet, Geisha and the award-winning Fish & Chicks. She directed and developed a theatre adaptation of the famous French cartoon book The Rabbis Cat by Joann Sfar. Her other theatre credits include Kiss DB ou Lhistoire dune mort sans fin, Revoir Amelie and Toutes Coupables. She has worked in the French film and television industry for over 15 years. The City of Ladies is her first collaboration with Zanny Begg.