Re: judges' statement - gender representation in exp film

From: Montgomery, Jennifer R. (email suppressed)
Date: Fri Jun 23 2006 - 19:09:40 PDT

Dear All,
before reading your various responses to the judge's statement, I would
like to state that that email was posted on Frameworks in error. This is
my fault entirely, though I gather it's not an altogether uncommon
phenomenon. I thought I was just emailing Patrick Friel. While all three
judges at Onion City agreed to the statement, we hadn't had a chance to
run it by Patrick Friel, and it wasu nfair to him not to be the one to
decide how and when and where that statement got posted.
So, with those apologies in mind, I will read with interest some of your
Mea culpa,
Jennifer Montgomery

On Fri, June 23, 2006 7:55 pm, Pip Chodorov wrote:
> 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 history.
> 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 thoughts.
> 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 demand.
> 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>.