Wittig, Yes!

Currently in pre-production

About Monique Wittig

In August 1970, Monique Wittig and others attempted to place the famous wreath of flowers on the tomb of the unknown soldier at the Arc de Triomphe with the words “There is someone more unknown than the unknown soldier: his wife.” The media labeled this act as the founding moment of the French Women’s Liberation Movement.

A leading figure in the 20th century feminist movement and a prize-winning author, Monique Wittig changed the course of history through her lesbian feminist activism, political theory, and trailblazing literary work. In 1964, Wittig’s first novel, The Opoponax, won the Prix Médicis. Marguerite Duras saluted this “brilliant work,” an opinion shared by Claude Simon, Nathalie Sarraute, and other writers and literary critics. In 1969, her novel Les Guérillères provoked an upheaval in the map of language and exerted a determining influence on what would become the Women’s Liberation Movement.

Wittig continued to break barriers publishing Le Corps Lesbien (The Lesbian Body) in 1973; two years later she and her partner Sande Zeig published Brouillon pour un dictionnaire des amantes (Lesbian Peoples: Material for a Dictionary); in 1985 she published Virgile, Non (Across The Acheron) along with the play le Voyage Sans Fin (The Constant Journey). Her theoretical work, The Straight Mind and Other Essays, was published in 1992 and Le Chantier littéraire (The Literary Workshop) was published in 2010 posthumously.

Poster design Curious Sky. Photo Adele Prandini

Hailed by Mary McCarthy as “the best writer of her generation,” Wittig explored language and literary form in a way no one else had previously. Her ideas on gender, the oppression of women as a class, and heterosexuality as a political regime advanced social and political theory.

Wittig’s literary work had a real-world impact and continues to influence and inspire people around the world. She was one of the first feminist activists and writers to posit new gender pronouns, years before it became popular to do so. She wrote, “To destroy the category of sex in politics and in philosophy, to destroy gender in language (at least to modify its use) is therefore part of my work in writing, as a writer.” 

About the Film

Wittig, Yes! is the first feature documentary about the life of Monique Wittig. It is a tribute to her importance both as a visionary lesbian feminist theorist and an avant-garde novelist.

The film is produced and directed by Sande Zeig, Monique Wittig’s lifelong partner. Together they collaborated on a book, a play, and a movie – parts of which will be incorporated into the film. Zeig’s relationship with Wittig will play an important part in the underlying feeling of the film. Wittig, Yes! will introduce Wittig’s main political, theoretical, and literary ideas to audiences through a new generation of international academics and writers  currently working on Wittig.  They will lay the foundation of her conceptual revolution.

The visual narrative coupled with voiceover will include filmed segments from each of Wittig’s novels; The Opoponax, Les Guérillères, The Lesbian Body, Across the Acheron and Lesbian Peoples: Material For a Dictionary, co-authored with Zeig. These poetic, lyrical and sometimes wryly humorous segments show how Wittig’s theoretical and literary work are one and the same and in constant interchange.

Wittig, Yes! will also interweave revealing aspects of Monique Wittig’s life drawn from her archive, photographs and personal notes, including Wittig’s main political and literary ideas; Wittig’s revolutionary activism; Wittig’s literary body of work in the background of the places she lived in France, Greece, California and Arizona; and Wittig and Zeig’s 30-year love story, all set against the political context of the time.

A key to the film will be learning about Monique Wittig from the intimate perspective of her life partner, producer and director Sande Zeig. Wittig was not only a revolutionary writer, thinker, and activist, but a multifaceted human being with a deep caring for people, a profound love of nature, and a superb sense of humor.

Work In Progress Screening

A work-in-progress segment of Wittig, Yes! was presented at Albertine Bookstore in New York at “Monique Wittig’s French American Legacy” in October.  The screening was  preceded by a reading of Monique Wittig’s work by the incredible French actress Adèle Haenel, who starred in “Portrait of a Lady on Fire.”

The work-in-progress was also presented at “Monique Wittig: Twenty Years Later” a conference at the University of Geneva in June.