Re: judges' statement - gender representation in exp film

From: Bruce Posner (email suppressed)
Date: Fri Jun 23 2006 - 19:24:38 PDT

This is such a crazy dialogue for the year 2006. How many filmmakers
working in film are there? How much longer will they work, no matter
what their gender, etc. It is just hard to make films and get them
shown, no matter who you might be. Even if all of the above was not
the case, then as Standish Lawder recently queried, why is that film
and filmmakers are so quickly forgotten no matter how significant
their accomplishment. This only seems to be the case with film not
the other arts.

>Here's a can of worms for you all. I was surprised by the judges'
>statement. This is something I have found interesting for a long
>time: in the mainstream, women are certainly still underrepresented,
>while alternative film and video has achieved equality in recent
>Working in the late 1980's in commercial film distribution in New
>York and in Paris, male domination was evident and is still evident
>when I attend the Cannes film festival every year to this day.
>However, ever since I have been participating in meetings of
>experimental film distribution cooperatives or artist-run production
>labs (since 1990), there have consistently been an equal number of
>men and women engaged in discussion, running the groups and making
>and showing new work. Obviously this is a relatively recent
>development; there are fewer historical avant-garde films by women;
>and women filmmakers over 40 remember only too well how hard it was
>before. When did this change, why did this change, and why only in
>alternative media? I spend the day asking women colleagues their
>Filmmaker Frédérique Devaux (FR) thinks this has to do with the
>radical freedom inherent in the medium. You have to be independent.
>She also says there are no power structures or hierachy in
>experimental film, and that women may not want to enter into a
>system (Hollywood) that is inherently sexist. Filmmaker Lucy Allwood
>(UK) adds that the determination and singe-mindedness demanded by a
>career in Hollywood is not compatible with the lifestyle including
>motherhood and moreover not compatible with dating. Men seem less
>attracted to powerful women pursuing a career. Young girls excel at
>school until they learn in early adolescence that bookishness is not
>sexy; their grades drop at 14. On the other hand, experimental
>filmmaking is sexy. It is a hobby and a craft for which the only
>driving force is passion. Tokyo filmmaker Yuiko Matsuyama (J) says
>she is proud to be a housewife (married to a filmmaker and
>professor). She likes her job and it gives her freedom to live
>confortably and make her work, whereas her husband has a lot of
>pressure to earn money and work long hours and make films. She came
>to filmmaking after quitting her first job and finding a flyer for
>Image Forum workshops and enrolling in courses. When Image Forum
>started offering courses in the early 1980s, they were surprised to
>find more women than men enrolling. Holly Fisher (USA), who lived
>through hardships as a woman filmmaker, says the problem may be tied
>in to personal identity; the way in which people come to make
>experimental films now, the workshops and courses that teach it, the
>groups and squats that nurture it, the peer group surrounding it,
>the encouragement for self-expression may be even more encouraging
>for women seeking a voice now then for men. And in the current
>social climate films by women and by minorities are in even greater
>But if this were completely true, then one would expect to see as
>many minority filmmakers as white ones. Frédérique's answer was that
>there are many, that everyone in this business is in some way or
>another an outsider or a foreigner. It is true looking around the
>active groups now that many members are displaced persons, social
>outcasts, sexual deviants, etc, who have found experimental film the
>best way to achieve both personal expression and total freedom. Lucy
>adds that there is however an elitist nature in some experimental
>work and a theoretical base needed to really understand a lot of it;
>it is true that a certain education is required, or a certain amount
>of cultural nurturing at a young age, to engage with these films and
>the ideas in them. Frédérique has been teaching experimental film
>for many years and says that more and more students are minority;
>she feels that the next generation of experimental filmmakers will
>inevitably be predominantly minorities.
>-Pip Chodorov
>>"We want to call attention to the underrepresentation of women in this year's
>>festival. While it is not uncommon in both mainstream and alternative
>>media festivals for the makers to be mainly men, we are aware of the
>>multitudes of exceptional female experimental filmmakers, both here and
>>abroad. Hence their relative absence at Onion City, and in our own awards
>>roster, took
>>us by surprise. Here's hoping for more equal representation in future years."
>For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.

For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.