Notes From Workshop 2 Debriefing

Sunday 14 March 2010

KEY ISSUES:

Changing Film History

1) Gender/Women incorporated into film theory/analysis but not into film history.

2) Auteurism - problem of filling gaps into male frameworks – danger that once women directors are documented the project is over.

3) Difficulty of conceptualizing women’s film history in relation to the national – possibly dominance of biography works against consideration of issues raised by the transnational, and the internationalism of feminist film studies works against consideration of the national contexts that traveling women carry with them or find on arrival.

4) Silent/Sound divide: the greater visibility of initiatives in silent cinema draws researchers to early cinema to the neglect of later histories. Need to initiate comparable projects in sound period.

5) Questions about the difference that gendered authorship make to films ….

6) Film availability and gendered constructions of canons.

7) Relationship between what’s exhibited, available, written about and the film canon.

8) Need writings to support courses on e.g. the 7000 titles in Bildwechsel’s collection

9) Need a history of women’s film theory and forgotten feminists responding to cinema.

10) Reframing film history: to investigate how women have worked in the industry and the different levels of creativity – publicities – in which they are involved opens up routes to a different history of film workers, including men.

Women’s Film History and Feminism

1) Problem of speaking on behalf of women & conceptual asymmetry between us and them.

2) Distinction Women’s History/Feminist History

3) Contemporary examples of women in film industry contribute understandings of the past, not necessarily available then: e.g. to break into the homosocial environment of film industry, women had to assert themselves, no matter how un-feminist they were. By some accounts the gender imbalance and power of homosocial operations are getting worse.

4) Inadvertant feminism among women who find ways of getting into workplace - we retroactively understand the feminism of this process.

Reconceiving Cinema Production and the Nature of ‘Film’

1) Empirical histories – reveal studio/male-female/relationships/female partnerships
and collaborative married couples

2) Research needs to investigate and find ways of document modes of collaborative and collaborative working and the degree of gendering of such collaborations.

3) Non-studio work – amateur work – non-theatrical exhibition – home movies

4) Cross-media work and issues.

5) Acting/Actresses –shaping power of performance and of star

Network Mission

• How will ‘Nationality’ figure in the Network mission – Who will the Network represent? Whose History?

• Proposal to make a significant shift in focus from AHRC proposal – up for discussion on this wiki:

It should be our geographic location as researchers that grounds the UK/Ireland identity of the network, rather than the nationality of the filmmakers or their work – so our Network will aim to create a community of and provide support to researchers into women’s filmmaking practices world-wide.

The likelihood is that most of us will be researching British women or foreign women in Britain simply because that’s where the resources are most accessible – and we will especially encourage that research since we are short of it.

• Network aims to foster the construction of a different history

• A history not focused on women auteurs or feminists but investigating how women have worked in the industry in different periods and the different levels of creativity – publicities – in which they have been and are involved.

• If feminism re-theorised film studies through gender questions, WFHN re-imagines film histories (to avoid “gap filling ” connotations of “Hidden from History”)

• Women remake film history: for everyone - then and now

• Network must be open to women currently in the industry or working independently

• Support especially for extending the current silent cinema activity to the sound era.

• We will put out a draft Manifesto and ask for responses – on wiki, at Conference

Potential Network Activities

1) Conference 13-15 April 2011 (see below).

2) Connect with European funding/festivals – also Women’s Film Festivals - Brussels, Feminale – Birds Eye View UK – attract money and labour

3) Seek institution/academic home on rolling basis - say 2 or 3 year Network leaderships

4) Get involved in Network of European Film Scholars and seek a Network presence/caucus group in suitable festivals, conferences, etc.

5) Working parties: on e.g.
crossing sound/silent divide
non-fiction
non-theatrical
inter-medial research

6) Establish website/server space – possible tension with notion of rolling network leadership.

7) Document Current women filmmakers’ profiles.

8) Information exchange.

9) Work with Archives ad Collections to draw highlight gender and film availability): e.g. Screenonline – BFI - Utube – Women’s Library, etc.

10) Work for placing and creating programmes in TV schedules, film theatres, etc.

11) Encourage/commission PhD research - e.g. apply AHRC for PhD project

12) Encourage families to deposit papers

Digital Infrastructure

1) Seek out current women-makers on Utube and Websites and list them into other sites

2) Liaise with Teresa Doherty, Kate Kinninmont, Mark Duguid, Linda Kaye re the sites they manage

3) Ask WiFHI to become centre of links – to different websites/orgs.

Conference: Doing Women’s Film History: Reframing Cinema History

1) Screen Alice Guy programme to coincide – book with Kim. Co-incide with Brit Silent Film Festival. Needs AFI approved projection facilities.

Screen Kathryn Bigelow along side Alice Guy to raise the then and now questions

2) Potential collaboration with British Silent Film Festival – e.g. sharing speakers from overseas.

3) Put the Manifesto out and ask for responses in papers for a panel –

4) Silent/Sound divide: possible to use the Conference to emphasise sound cinema research – to distinguish it from Women and Silent Screen Conferences and to create a springboard for initiate comparably visible projects.

Christine Gledhill April 2010

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