The number of women filming documentaries – in Portugal, Portuguese-speaking countries and in the world (Holanda, 2017; Pereira, 2016; Veiga, 2013) – is increasing significantly. The present reality contradicts, in turn, the historical and universal evidence of the difficulty women filmmakers have faced in making films, especially as far as fiction is concerned. Documentary cinema constitutes, on the other hand, a field in which different women often direct and produce with more relevance over the years.

The project "SPECULUM – Filming and looking at oneself in the mirror: the use of self-writing by Portuguese-speaking documentary filmmakers" is funded by the Science and Technology Portuguese Foundation (EXPL/ART-CRT/0231/2021) and is dedicated to research the autobiographical cinema made by women in Portugal and Brazil. We start from the hypothesis that some women documentary filmmakers have been assuming self-writing, the narration of their private histories and the search for their own definitions as a means of artistic expression that we understand to be important to analyse and creatively encourage.

For this project, it is understood that studying the work of women filmmakers’, especially from Portugal and Brazil, presupposes the identification of possible exchanges of experiences (a recurring concept in feminist studies as it encompasses subjectivity, sexuality, body, education, and politics). In our reflection, we identify essential traits among documentarians who produce images about themselves, revealing their most intimate side, addressing, and touching spectators by exposing themselves, in an artistic self-revealing. This empathic process may likewise be encouraged or promoted through an exhibition of places and times of intimacy and family which, being unique, are universally recognizable. Finally, it is assumed from the execution of the project that it will be possible to share a practical-inner structure shareable among women, and useful in their definition of themselves.

The SPECULUM research group is motivated by the topic originality in the current panorama of film studies in Portuguese language and undertakes this work with the sense of its continuity.