Welcoming to Frankfurt Women's Film Days 2018: Women's Rights and feminist Filmworking 1910-2017

GB 1910, P Pathé Frères Cinema, Print b/w, 35mm, 3 min, silent, BFI National Archive

This was one of the earliest mass marches organised by the suffrage movement, and up to 15,000 women marched from the Embankment to the Albert Hall to hear speeches from Christabel Pankhurst and other suffragette leaders (Ros Cranston, Make More Noise! Suffragettes in Silent Film).

Jutta Brückner, Berlin
Laura Mulvey, London

The film programme will be followed by a reception.

A programme that shows the awakening and revolt of women over seven decades of the 20th century. It begins with documents of the protest action that cost a suffragette her life. In 1913, Emily Davison threw herself at one of the king’s horses at the Epson Derby and grabbed its reins. Two film teams were present. The never-ending line of suffragettes with banners and sympathisers was also documented. A leap in time: the feminists of the 1970s tune in to the newsreel medium of their time – a London series, Hang on a Minute, of which we screen one story. Next comes a work of docufiction: a presenter interrupts the usual flow of news on German television with announcements from the underground of women’s lives. A protest against the female role. In Home Movie, Jan Oxenberg uses amateur film to show unconventionality already presenting itself in a little girl, a college student trying in vain to fit into the heterosexual mould, and the freedom that the 70’s lesbian and gay movement gave her. At Land, on the other hand, portrays emancipation of the female imagination – and for women, as Noll Brinckmann wrote in 1984, “the free flow of imagination is a breakthrough of a completely different dimension than it is for men”.
The suffragette movement was sustained by middle-class women; rebellion in the working class took a different shape. Strikes by women workers got the attention of feminist film work in the 70s. In 1969, Madeline Anderson made a documentary film commissioned by Hospital Workers Union Local 1199, about a strike by more than 400 black hospital and nursing home nurses in Charleston, South Carolina. The strike lasted 100 days, and Coretta Scott King supported it with a memorable speech. Anderson on her film I Am Somebody: “I knew that the obstacles that were before me were based on gender, race and politics... I tried to make a film that reflected my experience through their eyes.” Now! emphasizes the relevance of the topics that women raise their voices about. It’s a fast-paced found-footage film featuring images of racist violence and the struggles of the African-American civil rights movement. Lena Horne’s stirring song erupts from these struggles, setting the course for freedom.

GB 1913, P Topical Budget, Print b/w, 35mm, 5 min, silent, BFI National Archive

The cameramen of Topical Company were filming this famous annual horse race on 4 June 1913 when suffragette Emily Davison ran in front of the king's horse. Not noticing the severity of the event, they continued to film the day’s event. [...] Four days later, when Davison died of her wounds, the newsreels responded by reissuing the footage (Holly Hyams, Make More Noise! Suffragettes in Silent Film).

GB 1913, P Pathé Frères Cinema, Print b/w, 35mm, 2 min, silent, BFI National Archive

Emily Davison stepped out in front of the King's horse at the Derby of 1913 and died of her injuries four days later. Her funeral in London at St George's, Bloomsbury, attracts a huge crowd of mourners including suffragettes and suffragists in full regalia. (Bryony Dixon, Make More Noise! Suffragettes in Silent Film)

GB 1984, D Lis Rhodes, Joanna Davis, SC Lis Rhodes, M Lindsay Cooper, P Four Corners Films, Cast Lily Greenham, Print b/w, 16mm, 3 min, Cinenova Distribution

Lis Rhodes' poem dwells on the moments before a political thought is translated into a distinctive physical organisation such as the women who surrounded the Greenham missile base.
One of thirteen 1 minute films which grew out of a series of short poems written by Lis Rhodes, reflecting on the traditional patterns of oppression in women's lives (pornography, violence, nuclear weapons) and the many forms that resistance takes. Made with the artist Jo Davis and commissioned by Channel 4 for television broadcast. (Catalogue Luxonline)

D 1970, D, SC, E, Cast Christiane Gehner, C Christian Bau, S Klaus Wyborny, Print colour, DCP from 16mm, 10 min, German OV with English SUB, KurzFilmVerleih Hamburg

US 1975, D, SC, E Jan Oxenberg, C La Sylvia, Joan Weidman, Jan Oxenberg, Donna Deitch, M Debra Quinn, S Judith Dancoff, Print colour, 16mm, 12 min, English OV with electronic German SUB, Cinenova Distribution

The most sustained use of an ironic interplay between image and voice is Jan Oxenberg’s Home Movie, in which the film-maker’s voice interrogates her parents' old home movie footage of her […] the voice over muses. The voice stresses the contrast between the ‚normal‘ exterior and the felt inner ‚difference‘, but we may perceive that difference in the little girl’s behavior.  […] she looks out to the camera with a pugnacious expression that seems to suggest that she is not the feminine little thing she and her parents were trying to put on the film. (Richard Dyer, Now You See It, Second Edition 2003)

US 1944, D, SC Maya Deren, C Hella Heyman, Alexander Hammid, Cast Maya Deren, John Cage, Alexander Hammid, Hella Heyman, Parker Tyler, Print b/w, 16mm, 15 min, silent, Arsenal – Institut für Film und Videokunst e.V.

One aspect in which the film is completely successful, it seems to me, is that the techniques, though complicated, are executed with such quiet subtlety that one is unaware of the strangeness of the film while one looks at it. It is only afterwards, as after a dream, that one realizes how strange were the events and is surprised by the seeming normalcy of them while they are occurring. (Maya Deren)

US 1969, D, E Madeline Anderson, P Madeline Anderson, American Foundation of Non-Violence, Cast Coretta Scott King, Ralph Abernathy, Leon Davis, Andrew Young, Print colour, 16mm, 28 min, English OV with electronic German SUB, Icarus Film

In 1969, Madeline Anderson was commissioned by the Hospital Workers Union Local 1199 to record a strike at the Medical College Hospital of the University of South Carolina in Charleston. The striking employees, who aimed to receive union recognition and a fair wage, numbered over 400, all but 12 of them women and all of them black. The resulting documentary film, I Am Somebody (1969), has the distinction of being the first half-hour documentary film directed by an African-American, unionized, female director. (Stacey Doyle, Black Film Center/Archive: Madeline Anderson & I Am Somebody, 2013)

CUB 1965, D, SC Santiago Álvarez, C Pepín Rodríguez, Alberto Hernández, E Norma Torrado, Idalberto Gálvez, M Lena Horne, S Adalberto Jiménez, P ICAIC, Print b/w, 35mm, 6 min, Spanish OV, Arsenal – Institut für Film und Videokunst e.V.

With Now! cinema seemed to have found a brand new idiom overnight. The music, the only sound in Alvárez’s film, was by Lena Horne, illustrated by images of the fight against racial discrimination in the US, photos of Lyndon B. Johnson, newsreel features on police violence, comic strip pictures and footage of Black Panther demonstrations. (Alexander Kluge, Catalogue DOK Leipzig, 2012)

Pupille – Kino in der Uni