Invisible Women: Mad As Hell
13 October 2019
Brick Box, Bradford
For centuries, women who express their discontent and anger with the patriarchal status quo have been labelled "mad" - hysterical, out of control, in need of treatment. In Mad as Hell, we showcase a programme of films exploring the thin line between madness and anger, and demonstrating how female filmmakers have harnessed their rage through political action. These are films made by angry women, about angry women, for the world.
For The Brick Box and Live Cinema UK, we presented a specially curated new programme of shorts alongside responses from local Bradford artists, making the argument that archive films speak as much to our present and to our futures, as they do to our past.
Bedlam - Clio Barnard (1991, 9 mins)
This imagined meeting between Bertha Mason from Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre and Antoinette Cosway from Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea depicts an angry sisterhood rebelling against an establishment seeking to contain and medicalise their “madness”. A blistering early experiment from Otley born filmmaker Clio Barnard, who has since received widespread acclaim for her Bradford set feature films The Selfish Giant and The Arbor.
Give us a Smile - Leeds Animation Workshop (1983, 13 mins)
This playful but righteous short explores women’s experience of street harassment and gendered violence, partly in response to the sexist police and media response to the Yorkshire Ripper murders. An angry, darkly comic and ultimately empowering film from Leeds Animation Workshop, a prolific feminist filmmaking collective who have been producing work for over 40 years.
A Place of Rage - Pratibha Parmar (1991, 52 mins)
A searing doc that draws comparisons between the 60s civil rights movement and the 90s struggle for gender and LGBTQ+ equality. Set in New York, A Place of Rage boasts a blistering soundtrack of Prince and Janet Jackson, and features interviews with Alice Walker and Angela Davis. Educated at Bradford University, Parmar is a prolific director who specialises in giving a voice to the under-represented and marginalised.
We are excited to have had Mandla Rae, a Zimbabwean writer and producer, perform a response to the film A Place of Rage. They are a queer intersectional feminist. Mandla’s performances are personal, poignant and succinct. Drawing from a place of reclaiming her power, Mandla constantly interrogates power dynamics.
Silent Divas: Assunta Spina |
Seen & Heard: Invisible Women Raise Their Voices
12 May 2019
Tyneside Cinema, Newcastle
Passion! Jealousy! Revenge!
A Kind of Seeing presents one of Italian cinema’s greatest ‘silent divas’ on the big screen with live musical accompaniment performed by not-so-silent six-piece Italian folk band The Badwills.
Assunta Spina tells the dramatic story of our eponymous heroine: a beautiful laundress in 1910s Napoli torn between men who can’t control her passions. The great Francesca Bertini stars as Assunta and has since been credited as the film’s co-director. Though Bertini was a powerful woman in the industry at the time, her films filled with strong female leads are now rarely seen.
This beautiful version was recently restored by Cineteca di Bologna with the original colour tinting. Complementing the film’s striking setting in busy Neapolitan streets, The Badwills’ brand new live score reflects the passion on-screen by drawing on folk music and songs of the era rooted deep in the band’s repertoire of traditional southern Italian dances such as the tarantella.
Accompanying the feature will be a selection of short films programmed by archive activists, Invisible Women (aka Camilla Baier and Rachel Pronger) who seek out and champion the work of female filmmakers who have been overlooked, un-credited or left out of the history of cinema.
12 May 2019, 6.30pm
Supported by Newcastle University, PRS Foundation’s The Open Fund for Organisations and Film Hub North, part of the BFI’s Film Audience Network and funded by BFI and Creative Scotland.
Presented in partnership with Live Cinema UK, supported by Film Hub North, proud to be part of the BFI Film Audience Network.
Invisible Women at Flatpack Festival
4 May 2019
MAC Birmingham - Hexagon Theatre
For Flatpack 2019 Invisible Women present a new programme of boundary-pushing animation spanning the 20th century. From art school experimentation to feminist workshops, these shorts reveal a revolutionary vein of playful, subversive filmmaking using this most versatile of forms to interrogate gender politics, sexual identity and social dynamics.
Co-curated by Rachel Pronger, Camilla Baier and Noémi Lemoine-Blanchard
MAC Birmingham - Hexagon Theatre
4 May 2019, 4pm
Image of Interview (dir: Caroline Leaf & Veronika Soul) courtesy of the National Film Board of Canada
Silent Divas: Assunta Spina |
Seen & Heard: Invisible Women Raise Their Voices
2 & 3 March 2019
Eden Court, Inverness & DCA, Dundee
A Kind of Seeing presents Francesca Bertini, one of Italian cinema’s greatest (and often forgotten) ‘silent divas’ starring in the 1915 silent drama ASSUNTA SPINA. Touring on the big screen with live musical accompaniment performed by not-so-silent six-piece southern Italian folk band The Badwills.
Alongside the feature film Invisible Women will be presenting the programme Seen and Heard: Invisible Women Raise Their Voices.
Female Filmmakers have frequently been erased from cinema history, their films ignored or forgotten, their labour uncredited. In these films, women can be seen pushing back at their erasure, whether by placing the strength of the British housewife at the heart of a propaganda film or by overtly campaigning for equal rights, these filmmaker fight to be more than just the subject of the camera’s gaze – they will be seen and heard.
2 March 2019, 3pm
DCA, DUNDEE as part of DUNDEE WOMEN'S FESTIVAL
3 March, 2019, 6.45pm
Consensus | Edinburgh Art Festival
31 July 2018
Urbane Art Gallery
How is a consensus reached? How is a canon built? Archive Activists, Invisible Women, explore the dynamics of gender, time and memory in this pop-up screening.
Women have always made films, but their contributions have often been undervalued, their stories forgotten, their work buried. Often women have worked uncredited alongside famous men or have only been awarded acclaim decade later. In Consensus, Invisible Women present a fascinating selection of archive shorts to explore why some films are embraced by the canon while others disappear from view. Weaving a path from Scotland to Canada, Consensus forces us to consider how gender and time shape perceptions of worth, drawing a parallel from our complex cinematic history to present-day inequality in the film industry.
EYE International Conference 2018
26 - 29 May
EYE Film Institute Amsterdam
Invisible Women: How can Curators Address the Issue of Gendered Gaps in the Archive through Exhibition and Practice?
by Camilla Baier & Rachel Pronger
Abstract: Invisible Women is a collaborative project that examines how curators can address gendered absence in the archive through public exhibition. This case study centres on a pilot screening of work by ‘forgotten’ female filmmakers (1930s-1970s) that took place in Edinburgh in July 2017. Combining analysis of the socio-political implications of archival gender inequality with practitioner interviews and research into archives in Scotland, England and Canada, this project takes us on a journey of loss, discovery and frustration.
Whilst developing this exhibition, we sought to find new ways of presenting absence to an audience and embraced activism, drawing up an Invisible Women manifesto to inform future practice. An exploration of the complex relationships between the archivist and the curator exposed the unique role exhibition can play in highlighting the relevance of our cultural history to contemporary gender politics, that stretches as far as #MeToo. Ultimately, we argue that the curator has a duty to address archival gender inequality. To do so they must embrace the live political nature of the archive and apply a creative, collaborative approach to practice.
Camilla Baier and Rachel Pronger work in contemporary art and film exhibition and are based in Edinburgh. Invisible Women is their joint Master’s thesis, completed at the University of Edinburgh in August 2017.
Taken from the EYE International Conference 2018 programme.
Read the full programme here
Scope Critical Group
17 May 2018
Wee Red Bar, Edinburgh College of Art
Curators Camilla Baier and Rachel Pronger present: Invisible Women, a screening project which aims to find a way to raise awareness of forgotten female filmmakers in Scottish archives. From this example of how a lost story of women in film was uncovered and screened to a public audience, we hope to initiate a discussion about the power of the archive and the potential repercussions archival absence might have for representation in our present-day film industry.
In an age of #MeToo and #OscarsSoWhite, it seems like the issue of representation in film has never been more current. Yet, whether we are conscious of it or not, this topical discussion is underpinned by our understanding of our cinematic past, a history that is built from our moving image archives. Far from being a neutral record, archives are highly political spaces which reflect the inequalities of their moment of collection and inevitably offer incomplete narratives.
Camilla Baier and Rachel Pronger founded 'Invisible Women' in 2017 as part of their joint Masters Thesis while studying MSc Film, Exhibition and Curation at the University of Edinburgh.
This talk will be presented in a longer format at the prestigious EYE film Institute Annual Conference in Amsterdam later this month.
Scope is a platform for critical engagement in cinema that aims to explore diverse filmic cultures through regular screening events and discussion forums.
Find out more about them here
Invisible Women | Pilot Screening
13 July 2017
Whitespace Gallery, Edinburgh
An evening of short films by female filmmakers of the 1930s and 40s.
As men marched to war, women picked up cameras, creating work that pioneered genres, pushed the boundaries of form and explored the political power of film. These early female filmmakers created and innovated, working alone or with better known male contemporaries, often with few resources and no credit. Much of their contribution has been lost, buried in dusty archives or left uncatalogued.
Invisible Women seeks to reinsert these forgotten makers back into the story of film.
Taking as it’s starting point the work of Ruby and Marion, the forgotten filmmaking sisters of “Father of Documentary” John Grierson, this night of shorts traces a thread from Scotland to England to Canada, across genre, time and space.
Buried histories of courage, creativity and celluloid; Invisible Women will give these forgotten makers a voice, allowing them to tell their stories, in their own words.
They Also Serve (Ruby Grierson, 1940)
Beside the Seaside (Marion Grierson, 1935)
Ebb-Tide (Mary Field, 1936)
Around the Village Green (Marion Grierson & Evelyn Spice Cherry, 1937)
Highland Doctor (Kay Mander, 1943)
The Hoarder (Evelyn Lambart, 1969)
Jenny's Dog Team Journey (Jenny Gilbertson, 1975)
Archive Material licensed from the Moving Image Archive at the National Library of Scotland, the British Film Institute and the National Film Board of Canada.
Jenny's Dog Team Journey © Helen Thomson & Ann Black
Curated by Camilla Baier and Rachel Pronger
MSc Film, Exhibition and Curation, University of Edinburgh.
Watch a short video of Invisible Women - An evening of short films by female filmmakers of the 1930s and 40s here: