Re: judges' statement - gender representation in exp film

From: Freya (email suppressed)
Date: Sun Jun 25 2006 - 07:35:42 PDT

--- Pip Chodorov <email suppressed> 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.

Have we really, or is it just getting better?

Certainly we are very lucky to have Maya Deren as one
of the most famous and possibly key artists of
experimental film. I think this is wonderful because
theres always Maya to watch over our world of female
filmakers and to see the amazing things she achieved
is an inspiration and sort of a reminder to say
"female filmakers can make films too", or something
more than that like perhaps even to say "this is your
space too!".

I think this really helps, as sadly our society in
much of the world is highly segregated along the lines
of gender and sex and we are far, far, from redressing

However, I have to ask if we have really achieved
equality or if we are just doing suprisingly well
against the tyranny of our society in this case.
Obviously it looks like equality compared to the
shameless world that Hollywood has created.

Certainly at many screening in Leeds, there is very
often an overwhelmingly large amount of male viewers
for experimental films. One girl even came up to me
and seemed really interested in talking to me and
said she had seen me at a couple of experimental film
and video events. I asked why she remembered me as
obviously there were lots of people at those
screenings, and she said I stood out as I was the only
one who wasn't of a certain age and didn't have a
beard. I was quite dissapointed because I was hoping
she was going to tell me I stood out because I was so
beautiful or preetty or something! (Well we all can
hope can't we) ;)

However, at the recent evolution festival, there was a
much more fluid mix of people from various ages and
gender etc. So perhaps things have changed in Leeds
all of a sudden. I'm not sure why however.

> 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

The women actually outnumber the boys in Exp24 too
which suprised me. :)

> 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)

I'm curious as to what is meant by inherantly sexist
in this context. Certainly the people involved in
Hollywood style filmmaking seem to very often have a
terrible attitude towards women and sexism certainly
appears to be horribly rife throughout the industry,
but I don't know of anything in the hollywood system
that is inherantly sexist. Terms like best boy and
script girl perhaps???

Of course the whole of society is inherantly sexist
and divides people severely along the lines of sex and

> 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.

Or it's not portrayed as sexy etc.

> On the other hand, experimental filmmaking is
> sexy. It is a hobby and a craft for which the

It is wow! Why did nobody tell me this before! :)

Maybe I can get by without trying to get a French
accent and make do with a bit of old filmstock
instead! ;)

I have to say that the films I see being exhibited and
the screenings that happen, seem to be overwhelmingly
of male artists. However it's certainly not a
suprising thing to have female artists having their
work screened too, which is definitely a good thing.
It's not like Hollywood where there are so few well
known female directors that it's actually really quite
shocking when you come across one for example.

I don't entirely believe that the experimenatal film
and video world has achieved equality, however I do
believe that attitudes here are definitely towards
equality and that there may well not be any kind of
widescale prejudice towards female filmmakers within
that world. That doesn't mean there isn't any kind of
a problem, as sadly we are not a safe little island.

However, that's just my feeling from what I've seen
anecdotally around, and some of what I'm seeing may be
because of the historical situation. I'm open to swing
the other way if you can convince me! ;)

Maybe it is that there is a balance in the number of
female filmmakers starting out now and we will achieve
the equality we would all like to see in the near
future. :)



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