Women’s Gaze and the Feminist Film Archive — March 5, 2015
The Australian feature film renaissance and the emergence of a new ‘women’s cinema’ occurred at the same time, but the story of feminist filmmaking in Australia is less well known and in danger of being forgotten. The mainstream film renaissance of the 1970s was concerned with nationalistic artistic longings and the desire to compete with European art films at Cannes and Hollywood at the box office. But the new ‘women’s cinema’ arose from other more complex desires. Second wave feminism was sweeping the world, offering women an analysis of male power and female subjectivity. Women wanted to create alternative images of women to those offered by the dominant white male patriarchy and epitomized by the Hollywood dream machine. Women had mostly been excluded from active participation in the ‘new wave’ film movements of the 1960s. Now there was a growing hunger amongst young feminists to gain access to the means of production and to make films about women’s issues. These included discrimination against women, domestic violence, sexuality, beauty and body image, and the notion that women’s ‘place’ was in the home not in the public sphere. Films that emerged spoke of women’s passionate desire for justice and freedom, of the quiet desperation of many women’s lives, and of stories of resistance ignored in the history books.
These legacy films are part of a larger body of work by women, which has provided the foundations for much cultural work by third wave feminists. Whilst feminism has evolved, feminist projects continue to analyse identity, gender roles and representation in new ways. Third-wave feminists, whose interests vary and often intersect gender, queer and race studies, are now working across multiple platforms in a digital world and discovering new audiences. In 2015, forty years after International Women’s Year, second and third wave feminist filmmakers continue to produce cultural works as activists for change.
For information about the individual films on show as well as other talks and eents in relation to the film screening and exhibition please download the Press Release.