On January 26th I took up the pledge started by the Women in Film group in Los Angeles, to watch a film directed by a woman every week for a year. This challenge is inspired by Marya E Gate’s monumental project of 2015 A Year with Women in which she limited her watching (of over 300 films) to films that were written, co-written, directed or co-directed by women, using a variety of social media outlets to post her findings. Gates was an already established film blogger with her Cinema Fanatic blog started in 2011, and would frequently watch over 100 films a month, providing readers with close analysis, recommendations, links to similar films and importantly, suggestions where to track down the films across the complex world of digital, exhibition platforms. Her Year with Women 2015, was inspired by the poor figures of highest grossing films directed by women in 2014; some 7% of films which only amounted to 17 female directed films that year. Her intention simply to encourage more people to watch films by women which in the long run would increase viewing figures and therefore ultimately stimulate demand for films with perhaps a different take on the world.
Women in Film’s #52filmsByWomen has a simliar aim, « to boost the visibility of female directors » using social media to alert others to films made by women that may have been overlooked or forgotten and stimulating a discussion. The result of this are many great lists ranging from the excellent « lost master pieces » by Little White lies, through to Raindance’s film festival’s best 25 list to, Vulture’s 100 women director’s and useful data bases such as Go Watch which enables you to compile a more mainstream collection of films and displays exactly where to find them. The other more intricate aim of this challenge is surely to assess the impact of a a director/writer’s gender in a film, and whether that has any bearing on the subject matter, aesthetic choices and ways of working. The early days of film studies debated this at length, such as Annette Khun’s Women’s Pictures of 1982 (see the excellent review here on Jump Cut) and is now thankfully relevant again with the current resurgence of so called feminism 4.0 playing itself out on websites, blogs, (such as this one) and festivals ; Bechdel Test Fest, Club Des Femmes amongst many others. This runs alongside academic research examining the causes of the absence of women in the screen industries and re-evauating the impact of those that have particpated in its past.
Here at Women in Film SE15 we will also be tracking down women directed films on terrestrial, digital, DVD, formats as well as festivals and competitions. Mainstream, art, experimental, amateur, independent and any films aired on television will be part of the mix. There will be an attempt to recap on the films and try to suggest why they might be important in terms of how they are made what they are saying, see also a previous post on this blog Key Female Directors.