In an iconic scene in <em>Dr No</em> (1962), Honey Ryder emerges from the sea in a white bikini much to James Bond’s delight as he watches from behind a tree.<br><br>A decade later, the British film theorist Laura Mulvey wrote about the Male Gaze in cinema. She described it as the ‘sexual imbalance’ between the active male and passive female on screen, arguing that female characters are portrayed according to a dominant male fantasy.<sup>1</sup><br><br>Céline Sciamma is a French filmmaker who has countered male voyeurism by highlighting the less glamorous aspects of femininity. In <em>Water Lilies</em> (2007), a teenage girl is berated by her swimming coach for her hairy legs, and in <em>Portrait of a Lady on Fire</em> (2019), her heroines have unshaven underarms; abortion is also shown in a matter-of-fact way. In <em>Girlhood</em> (2014), girls fight each other, brutally grappling to remove the other’s top as a mark of victory. <br><br>Also in <em>Portrait</em>, by showing the action through Marianne (a painter)’s eyes, the viewer’s gaze is aligned with that of a woman. Sciamma creates eroticism through a dialogue of looks, rather than through voyeuristic depictions of their bodies. By featuring two female protagonists who are able to gaze with equal power, the sexual imbalance is addressed.<br><br>By her own admission, Sciamma’s films feature all female ‘bubbles’<sup>2</sup>. <em>Portrait</em> is a world of female characters set on an island off Brittany, to the extent that the occasional appearance of a male jars on the senses.<br><br>Excluding men entirely from her films is indeed a brute-force approach. Yet Sciamma’s extreme methods create awareness by showing an alternative cinematic world — one in which the male gaze is eliminated.