who's entitled?

From: Chuck Kleinhans (email suppressed)
Date: Thu Jan 24 2008 - 22:30:52 PST

On Jan 24, 2008, at 3:57 PM, Nicky Hamlyn wrote:

> Obviosly what annoyed me about that book title, which Kleinhans
> seemed obtusely not to get, was that fact that its title should
> have reflected the geographical/national boundaries of its scope.
> There are women filmmakers in other parts of ther World!

> On Jan 24, 2008, at 10:45 AM, Artcite / Media City wrote:
>> The general observation that the title of a book "Women's
>> Experimental Cinema: Critical Frameworks" is almost exclusively
>> focused on American Filmmakers is
>> accurate.
>> Even Joyce Weiland and Gunvor Nelson spent quite some time in the
>> USA.

1. Rather simply: Joyce Weiland was a Canadian, and most of her work
reflects on that (the only exception I can think of is Water Sark,
and I wouldn't be surprised to see it again and see a bottle of maple
syrup on the table) as a major theme. She only lived in the US for a
few years. Therefore, it would be factually incorrect to use the title:

>>> shouldn't the title be "AMERICAN Women's Experimental Cinema:
>>> Critical Frameworks", since, as far as I can see, no other
>>> nationalities are mentioned?

I leave it to Canadians on the list to explain to Hamlyn why it would
be offensively insensitive to place Weiland under that title.

2. While we're waiting to check Gunvor Nelson's passport, I would
point out that most of her work in the past 20 years reflects very
directly on Sweden in one way or another. Oh, and there's that
Swedish lullaby at the end of Oona.

3. It's hardly just us Yanks on my side of the Atlantic who have a
short-sighted view of the world of global experimental film. Case in
point: the "history" of the film avant-garde on the Luxonline site:
It seems there that the only nation making experimental work after
the mid-1960s is Britain. This insular assumption was also evidenced
in a recent book from the UK on the real-deal in-your-face avant
garde film which also dropped out the rest of the world once we get
past the 60s.

(Although the Lux home page has a little clip from Argument by
Anthony McCall--ignoring co-creator Andrew Tyndall--with the apparent
aim of validating it as a British film, but not noticing that the the
film was made in New York, where McCall has resided for some 30+
years.) [Anthony McCall, front and center, bring your citizenship

4. The more substantive point here is surely that experimental film
in particular circulates mostly within its own national borders.
This is well known and the reasons for it are rather obvious:
problems of language and translation and subtitles for some work with
spoken or written words; the cost of prints, and the cost shipping
abroad, and the common problems of clearing film prints with customs
offices. Plus the fact that experimental film cultures tend to be
distinctly local and regional and national. This shapes reception
(such as festivals), distribution, and exhibition. For example, my
go-to source for my experimental film class is Canyon Cinema and has
been for many years. But they don't have any Nicky Hamlyn
films....If I haven't seen any or screened any, it's not simply from
some perverse national chauvinism. It would be nice if we all had
universal access to world cinema, but in the meantime, lets think
about what the problems are that prevent us from getting to that
goal. And solve those problems. The title of a particular book
doesn't seem to be the main thing that's holding back progress.

5. Why this nit-picking of the book's title? Especially by someone
who admits he hasn't even seen the book? Blaetz's introduction to the
anthology clearly sets out the limits of the project. She certainly
isn't declaring that this collection is encyclopedic or definitive or
canonical. Quite the opposite.

Can't we just celebrate that a new book appears discussing a vastly
understudied group of women? And it joins an earlier book? These
are the first such anthologies. Wouldn't it be more productive to
hope for many more that would include a more international cast of
filmmakers? And then to work to make the circulation of those films
and the reputation of those filmmakers part of an active agenda.
Wasn't that the motive of the book's editor and contributing authors?

[Full disclossure: I have an essay on Barbara Hammer in the Blaetz

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