Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Programming as Distribution - What goes into Putting on a Screening

This is the outcome of a number of discussions leading up to a screening event organised Summer School Participants working with Cinenova. Below is a text written to introduce the screening event:

Firstly we would like to thank Irene, Charlotte and Louise, the members of the Cinenova working group with whom we worked, for their time and access to the archive. For those who might not know, Cinenova is a non-profit organization dedicated to distributing films and videos made by women.

Two weeks ago, at the beginning of the Summer School, we were invited to spend the afternoon with the Cinenova archive and the working group; we spent two days in total watching films, and a morning finalizing the program.

As a group of 15, negotiating between us and committing to a selection was a challenging task; it was difficult accommodating varying expectations and tastes, as well as working through such a vast and varied archive.

Our selection tries to reflect the variety within the archive and the diversity of the group.

From this starting point, the films we chose are different solutions to the representation of community. Home and Dry is a short film made by the Leeds Animation Workshop in 1987 that addresses different housing experience and social exclusion. Veronica 4 Rose is a film made for television, commissioned by Channel 4 in the early 80s and made with young lesbians aged between 16 and 23 from Newcastle, Liverpool and London. And B-Sides made by Abigail Child in 1996 is an experimental film about the Lower East Side.  

Whilst selecting the films certain questions arose: Does there need to be a parity between the scale of the problem and the scale of the solution; what form does it take, what does it actually look like. We have picked three kinds of films that take on different kinds of forms and hope to represent a community’s struggles and efforts: the boundaries, both physical and societal, that these communities face.

How do you represent political urgency? All of these films are to some extent historical reflections on issues that still exist today.

Finally, we wanted to address some of the themes of the summer school.

Below is a list of the films we ended up screening:

Leeds Animation Workshop
8 mins colour 1987 UK

Four women fall into conversation in a launderette. As the machines whirl and the powder flows, they talk about their housing experiences, hopes and expectations. None of them would describe themselves as homeless - after all they've never slept out on the street. However, as they listen to each other's stories they begin to understand that homelessness is indeed something they've all experienced.

Home and Dry? analyses the inadequacies of housing policies and examines the political thinking that lie behind them. It reveals how women's housing needs and requirements must be given priority as a vital and neglected component of today's housing crisis.

Melanie Chait
48 mins colour 1983 UK

Made with young lesbians aged between 16 and 23 from Newcastle, Liverpool and London, this warm and engaging film explores the ups and down of being lesbian in a predominately heterosexual and homophobic society geared to wedding bells and boys.

The young women interviewed speak openly about their experiences of coming out to friends and parents and how in many cases they were told it was only a 'phase' they would grow out of. "If you can go out with boys at 14 and that's OK, why can't you go out with someone of your own sex without it being a crush?" asks one of the young women.

Abigail Child US 1996 36min

An experiment in entering imaginatively the delirium of the Lower East Side, a poignant and beautiful vision of late twentieth century urban life.

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