Month: July 2017

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“Lois Weber: First Auteur” Film Series at Film Forum, July 30, August 6 & September 16!


“Lois Weber: First Auteur”

Film Forum, New York City

Titles to be screened:

The Blot (Sunday, July 30, 2017)

Shoes Suspense (Sunday, August 6, 2017)

The Dumb Girl of Portici (Saturday, September 16, 2017)

Film Forum will be screening these films by Weber along with live piano accompaniment by Steve Sterner.

From Film Forum’s website:

“Actress, producer and director Lois Weber (1879-1939) made her first feature in 1911. By 1916, she was one of America’s highest-paid directors and, a year later, running her own studio.  A technical innovator, Weber also grappled with a wide range of social issues, including prostitution, capital punishment and birth control.”


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CFP: Doing Women’s Film and Television History IV: Calling the Shots-Then, Now, and Next


CFP: Doing Women’s Film and Television History IV: 
Calling the Shots – Then, Now, and Next

University of Southampton, May 23-25, 2018

Organizing team: Shelley Cobb, Linda Ruth Williams, and Natalie Wreyford

Proposals due November 3, 2017

As researchers of the AHRC-funded project Calling the Shots: Women and Contemporary UK Film Culture 2000-2015 we are proud to host the fourth International Doing Women’s Film and Television History conference in association with the Women’s Film and Television History Network – UK/Ireland.

The focus for DWFTH-IV is predicated on the idea of the contemporary as an historical formation. The conference will offer a space to think about the interconnectedness of the past, present and future in feminist historiography and theory, as well as across all forms of women’s film culture and filmmaking. It will also consider women’s film and television histories and their relationships with the contemporary, framed and read historically, to reflect on our methodological, theoretical, ideological and disciplinary choices when researching and studying women and/in film and television. In addition to this theme, we are interested in proposals/panels on all topics related to women’s film and television history, from all eras and from all parts of the globe. We hope that DWFTH-IV will build on the successes of the previous conferences through new work on women, both historical and contemporary, and fresh thinking on what we mean by women’s film and television history.

Calling the Shots is producing important new research on women in cinema now, through interviews, data analysis and writing. We are finding and recording all the women who have been employed in six key roles in British film production since 2003. We are interviewing over 50 of these women thereby producing a record of their involvement and achievements. The scale and forensic detail of the project shows both what they have done and where they have been excluded. Since its inception, Calling the Shots has been affiliated with WFTHN-UK/Ireland, and in doing our research we continually reflect on how contemporary study both relies on historical precedents and develops new models for thinking and working historically, while being focused on the present.

Keynote speakers TBD

(The conference will include screenings with special guests, as well as sessions with film and television practitioners and other industry professionals.)

Papers are invited on any aspect of women’s work in, consumption of, and relationship with film and television. The following is an indicative (and by no means exhaustive) list of possible topics:

• women’s film/TV historiography: filling gaps or changing history? 

• history formulated as in medias res: how do we do contemporary history, and what are the implications of thinking of the historical in this way? 

• methodologies: archive searches, data collection (uses, limitations, difficulties collecting); interviews with practitioners; creative/cultural industrial approaches

• the impact of social, economic and industrial conditions (including industry regulation) on women’s roles and creative practices

• new ways of doing textual analysis of women’s films (rethinking feminist theory?)

• re-thinking women as ‘auteurs’ of film and television (directors, showrunners, producers, actors)

• feminism & women’s film history; historicizing women’s film collectives of 1970s and 80s; feminist filmmaking today (and tomorrow?)

• international and transnational contexts: connections, comparisons, collaborations, migration

• crossing industry boundaries: film, television, theatre, radio, journalism, art, etc

• practice-based research: directing, screenwriting, sound/set/costume design, etc 

– the relationship between practice-based research and history

• women audiences/viewers and women as fans

• women campaigner/activists in film and television and for on-screen/off-screen change

• women’s film criticism/women film critics

• the uses of social media by women filmmakers/showrunners/actors/critics/fans/campaigners etc

• digitisation in women’s filmmaking and future histories 

• ‘women’s cinema’ as critical category in post-feminist contexts 

• women’s independent filmmaking and/versus women’s mainstream (or blockbuster) directing

• changing the curriculum: critical canons, teaching & film programming; pedagogies of women’s film and television history; teaching feminist history and theory; including women’s film and television in core modules/classes

• the relationship between film and television genres, their gendered affiliations and women’s involvement in their production

• women practitioners’ negotiations of femininity and/or feminism in their working lives

• the intersection of class, race, sexuality, disability and women both on screen and behind the camera

• issues of archiving and preservation for women’s film and television

• distribution and exhibition and broadcasting – finding and seeing women’s film and television

Proposals for twenty-minute presentations must include the title of the presentation, a 250-word abstract and a brief biography the author(s). Pre-constituted panels of three speakers may also be submitted, and should include a 250-word panel rationale statement, as well as individual abstracts. Proposals from both established scholars and early career researchers including postgraduate students are welcomed. Proposals should be submitted to before the 3 November 2017. Participants will receive a response from the selection committee before 20 December 2017.

More information on Calling the Shots can be found here.

More information on the Women’s Film and Television History Network – UK/Ireland can be found here.

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Behind the Scenes: A Report on the Recent Women and the Silent Screen IX Conference


Xinyi Zhao recaps her experiences at the recent Women and the Silent Screen IX conference, which was held in Shanghai last month (June 16-18, 2017):

Professor Jane Gaines (Columbia University) presenting at WSS IX.

One of the highlights of my summer this year was attending Women and the Silent Screen IX, which was hosted by the Shanghai Theater Academy and Contemporary Cinema. The conference dovetails with the Women Film Pioneers Project insofar as both strive to rewrite world film history through excavating and reevaluating those women who shaped cinema into what it is today. This year’s WSS meeting, entitled “Histories, Her-stories, and Methods,” concerned the methods of historiography centered on women film workers in the silent era. It featured three days of panels, screenings, and keynote speeches. It brought together over sixty participants from more than ten countries. Their papers addressed a wide array of issues revolving around female agency and in/visibility in film historiography, the limit of life-writing (autobiography and biography), and its methodological value for alternative feminist historiographies. 

WSS 2017 turned out to be a lively, engaging, and illuminating conference. I was particularly struck by Professor Monica Dall’Asta (Università di Bologna) and Professor Luca Mazzei’s (Università Roma “Tor Vergata”) paper “How About Women in the History of Film Theory?” They aptly pointed out that “until the advent of Laura Mulvey and feminist film theory in the 1970s, film theory was virtually an all-male business.” For that reason, the paper steered away from women’s film production to discursive production, calling for more research on early women’s reflections on and theoretical engagement with cinema. 

As the first WSS conference ever held in Asia, there was a special emphasis placed on Asian women film pioneers in the 1920s and 1930s. Professor Chika Kinoshita (Kyoto University), for instance, presented her work on Irie Tanako, the first woman producer in Japanese film history, and examined her first film The Dawn of Manchuria and Mongolia (1932) under the rubric of colonial modernity. This paper was crucial to our understanding of how Irie’s work combined her own feminist agenda with the collective action of the Japanese Empire. 

A contingent of Columbia students, faculty, and friends at WSS IX.

The screenings took place in the extraordinary Shanghai Film Museum on the original site of Shanghai Film Studio, one of the three major film studios in China. Accompanied by perfectly fitting live piano performances, the screenings featured exceptionally rare silent films from around the world, including The Spiders’ Cave (dir. Dan Duyu, China, 1927), The Red Heroine (dir. Wen Yimin, China, 1929), The Swordswoman of Huangjiang (dir. Chen Kenran, China, 1930), Mothers of Men (dir. Willis Robards, USA, 1917), and Crossroads of Youth (dir. Ahn Jong Hwa, Korea, 1934). My personal favorite was The Red Heroine, which featured a maiden turned knight-errant who serves as an arbiter of her community (starring recent addition to WFPP Fan Xuepeng). Beautifully restored by the China Film Archive in Beijing, the film is among the very few extant Chinese wuxia films in the silent era and thus opens a unique window to the genre’s early development.

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