New York’s Feminist Film Week starts today! Here’s a list of films you can’t miss. (And if you don’t live in NYC, this is still a great list of must-sees by pioneering feminist filmmakers.) By Kristen Cochrane.
At the Oscars last month, only 20% of women were nominated in non-acting categories. This is tragic. These figures are worse when we make our feminist practice intersectional—that is, when we consider all the possible axis where discrimination and oppression can occur alongside sexism, like racism, ableism, homophobia, queerphobia, transphobia, and xenophobia, among others.
As time goes by, we are inundated with new films by incredible female directors, female screenwriters, and female performers (including gender noncomforming people). Still, these artists are obviously still a minority in the very macho realm of film. It’s imperative to explore both new and older films in which we are perennially indebted, because without the pioneering filmmakers who managed to work in fields that were (and still are) boys’ clubs, where would be? Would everything be old-school James Bond-esque? Maybe. Maybe not.
This month at Anthology Film Archives, the New York Feminist Film Week (inspired by feminist films weeks in London and Berlin) is paying homage to the landmark avant-gardes of the celluloid image, showing the work of filmmakers like Barbara Hammer, Maya Deren, and Agnès Varda. The film week runs from Monday, March 7 (today!) to March 12 at Anthology Film Archives. If you’re not in NYC we’ll, duh, you can stream these on your computer in your crumb-filled bed (OK, speaking for myself), but there is something so unique about the IRL movie experience. Plus, if we don’t support independent movie theatres in this age of cordcutting, we may have to watch movies on our shitty mattresses for the rest of our lives.
And by the way, all profits that the film week makes will go to Housing Works and the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance. Below are some suggestions to guide your intersectional feminist spectatorship.
New York avant-garde, experimental filmmaker Maya Deren in At Land (1944), which she also directed and wrote.
Tuesday, March 7th
Program 1: “Dismantling Islamophobia”
Islamophobia, especially in post-9/11 times, remains a topical issue that requires urgent attention. But it’s in this new Trump era that further meditation upon the lived experience of Muslim women (and all women from the Middle East). In the documentary film Je ne suis pas féministe, mais… / I Am Not a Feminist, But…, the unique situation of laïcité (a concept that is informed by a secularization of the French nation-state) in France is examined. The documentary is about Christine Delphy, co-founder with Simone de Beauvoir of French feminist journal Questions féministes, published from 1977-1980. Delphy is a lesbian sociologist and came out against the law that prohibited “ostentatious” religious symbols, like the hijab, the niqab, and the burka. Two films dealing with Islam and women will be screened:
Florence Tissot and Sylvie Tissot, Je ne suis pas féministe, mais… / I Am Not a Feminist, But…, (2015, 52min, digital).
Faiza Ambah, Mariam, (2015, 45min, digital).
Beth Stephens and Annie Sprinkle, Goodbye Gauley Mountain: An Ecosexual Love Story
Wednesday, March 8th
Program 2: “Bodies”
On International Women’s Day, the program “Bodies” will explore “the body as a locus of cultural and political practice within contexts of violence, pleasure and community.” Six short films will be screened:
Nona Faustine, Walking With Frederick Douglass, Lispenard St., (2015, 1.5min, digital).
Gina (now known as Joey) Carducci and Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, All That Sheltering Emptiness, (2010, 7min, 16mm).
Krissy Mahan, Until Justice Rolls…, (2014, 3.5min, digital).
Mila Zuo, Carnal Orient, (2015, 9min, digital).
Patricia Silva, Wholesome Fevers, (2016, 7min, digital).
Cheryl Dunye, Black is Blue, (2014, 21min, digital).
American author, playwright, performance artist, and gender theorist Kate Bornstein
Program 3: “Trans/Action”
Continuing on International Women’s Day are three screenings that chronicle trans and gender nonconforming identities, from the American “trailblazing gender outlaw” Kate Bornstein to the stories of women who are gender nonconforming and/or identity outside of the heterosexual matrix in Lebanon.
Seyi Adebanjo, Trans Lives Matter! Justice for Islan Nettles, (2014, 7min, digital)
Nour Metwally, My Refugee Story, (2015, 17min, digital)
Sam Feder, Kate Bornstein is a Queer and Pleasant Danger, (2014, 55min, digital)
Legendary French New Wave filmmaker Agnès Varda’s short film L’Opéra Mouffe (1958). It will be screening on March 10 at Anthology Film Archives.
Thursday, March 9
Program 4: “Ecofeminisms”
One definition of ecofeminism is “an activist and academic movement that sees critical connections between the domination of nature and the exploitation of women.” Make sure to catch the legendary Annie Sprinkle’s romance-documentary Goodbye Gauley Mountain: An Ecosexual Love Story, which delves into the adventures of Beth Stephens and Annie Sprinkle, two ecosexuals in love [who] raise performance art hell in West Virginia to help save the region from mountaintop removal destruction, climaxing with their wedding to the Appalachian Mountains. Hot.
The “Ecofeminisms” program is as follows:
Maya Suess and Atom Cianfarani, Queer Ecologies, (2014, 13min, digital)
Beth Stephens and Annie Sprinkle, Goodbye Gauley Mountain: An Ecosexual Love Story, (2015, 70min, digital).
Filmmaker Barbara Harris’s experimental documentary film Nitrate Kisses (1992).
Friday, March 10
Program 5: Feminist Film Genealogies
When we think about the French New Wave, we tend to focus on auteurs like François Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard. One of their contemporaries is Agnès Varda, a photographer who pursued filmmaking even when she admittedly didn’t know what she was doing. It ended up working, and she’s a beloved figure among cinephiles today for her pioneering work in a sphere where women were prominently on screen (like Anna Karina or Jeanne Moreau at the time), but were rarely behind the camera.
Maya Deren, At Land, (1944, 15min, 16mm)
Barbara Hammer, Maya Deren’s Sink, (2011, 30min, digital)
Patricia Silvia, Self and Others, (2015, 6min, digital)
Agnès Varda, L’Opéra Mouffe, (1958, 16min, 35mm-to-DCP)
Constanza Mirré, Rosemary’s Street, (2013, 17min, digital)
An incredible still from Barbara Hammer’s 1974 short film Dyketactics.
Saturday, March 11
Program 7: Homage to Barbara Hammer
Born in 1939, Barbara Hammer is “renowned for creating the earliest and most extensive body of avant-garde films on lesbian life and sexuality.” This is important—lesbians (and women who desire women) have historically been used as objects to stimulate, excite, and invoke fear in cinematic audiences across the world. The fact that her films showed real lesbians and rendered dignified stories that didn’t objectify women loving women was major.
For this program, Barbara Hammer and Joey (formerly known as Gina) Carducci, will be in person to talk about the following films:
Barbara Hammer, Dyketastics, (1974, 4min, 16mm)
Barbara Hammer, Nitrate Kisses, (1992, 67min, 16mm)
Barbara Hammer and Joey Carducci, Generations, (2010, 30min, 16mm)
Joey Carducci, A Video Letter to Barbara Hammer, (2016, 16min, 16mm-to-digital).
Kristen Cochrane is a writer and graduate researcher at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. Her academic research is currently on queer Latin American cinema, but she also writes about art, sexuality, and life stories. Her work has appeared in Amuse/i-D, Teen Vogue, Somesuch, and VICE.