Join us once a month for Seeking Our Story screenings in Los Angeles! Test your knowledge of Women Directors here.
I am so proud to announce that Seeking Our Story is joining the new Rack Focus initiative at The American Cinematheque! Join us for our first Seeking Our Story event in their intimate Spielberg Theatre on Friday March 25th at 7:30PM featuring director Allison Anders. Tickets on sale now!
We made it a whole year! After twelve successful screening’s Seeking our Story celebrated our 1-year-anniversary with Dorothy Arzner’s Dance, Girl, Dance. Check out pictures from our event courtesy of Jeff Wilson. You can also read more about the film and Arzner’s work in our guest post on Women & Hollywood.
Recently I came across a great resource through Columbia University called the Women Film Pioneers Project. As stated in the background for this study, “More women worked at all levels inside and outside the Hollywood film industry in the first two decades than at any time since.” This important project documents the work of these filmmakers and carries their story forward. Thank you to the Women Film Pioneers Project for helping us find the stories we are seeking!
First Posted 4/17/2014
You’re invited to join our free community screening series kicking off next Friday, April 25th as part of Friday Night Film Club @ MiMoDa Studio. The series, Seeking Our Story, focuses exclusively on films directed by women.
As a filmmaker I learn from, become inspired by, and emulate the artwork that I consume. With that in mind, over the past year I have set out in search of a role model or mentor whose work I admire. My education exposed me to works by great filmmakers, but gave limited examples of women in the field. I saw no one like me whose footsteps I could follow to achieve my ultimate goal — producing and directing narrative feature films. I was looking for a woman who not only told her story, but who also garnered respect from her peers for affecting both her industry and the culture of her time. I craved reassurance for my career aspirations and confirmation that a voice like mine existed in this world. In essence I went looking for my history, seeking my story as a filmmaker, and hoping to find a legacy that could be carried forward through continued pursuit of my goals.
Here I must credit filmmakers Pamela Green and Jarik van Sluijs, as it was through their documentary project entitled BE NATURAL that I was introduced to historic movie maven Alice Guy-Blaché. The way they tell her story, not only was Alice arguably the first narrative film director (at age 23 mind you, in the year 1896, before women had the right to vote) but she also became the first studio executive under the financing of inventor Léon Gaumont. Upon resigning form Gaumont in 1907 Alice Guy went on to give birth to her first child while opening her very own studio in America called Solax (see: http://www.aliceguyblache.com/inventing-the-movies/home)
Alice’s story spoke to me. She had my ideal career as a woman who told stories in her own voice, ran a business on her own terms, and who helped lay the groundwork for both narrative and documentary film production and distribution. Due in part to her work at the company, Gaumont remains an international powerhouse even today. Yet, somehow her prolific personal history and thousands of her short and feature films have all nearly been lost. Even more importantly, few filmmakers today know her legacy. I began to wonder what other women, like Alice, have become submerged in the burgeoning media industry. I know now that I must unearth these women filmmakers and view their work for myself.
I have started pursuing an alternative film history and, through generous assistance from @TheDirectorList and MiMoDa Studio, I look forward to sharing these discoveries with all of my filmmaking peers. I like calling this Women’s Film History, as the narrative differs greatly from textbook representation. Seeking Our Story is the classroom for viewing this history and my way of inspiring women filmmakers in my community to keep sharing their own stories. Many of our screenings will focus on historic women directors, as we look to fill in the gap left by traditional film education. Alice’s contemporaries, Lois Weber, Dorothy Arzner, and many more filmmakers from the last century will be featured along with women directors today who carry the torch for all women through this storytelling tradition. We are all a part of Women’s Film History. We are not the first, and we will surely not be the last.
Seeking Our Story launches next Friday 4/25 at 7:30PM with DESPERATELY SEEKING SUSAN, the 1986 cult classic directed by Susan Seidelman. Seidelman found success in both feature films and television despite the financial challenges and glass ceiling faced by many women directors. Her feature directorial debut, SMITHEREENS (1982) became the first American Independent film accepted into competition for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and her sophomore film, DESPERATELY SEEKING SUSAN (1986) became such a critical and commercial success that it earned her a multi-picture studio contract.
RSVP for our screening at http://mimoda.ticketmob.com/show.cfm?id=30150&cart
Film archivist Ariel Schudson wrote a wonderful article on DESPERATELY SEEKING SUSAN. In it, she claims that, “By looking at the agency that is given to both female leads, we can see that the texture of the film was very much inspired by the desire to create a new film that would (and could) relate to contemporary women. Instead of the melodrama of the early women’s films, the makers of Desperately Seeking Susan replaced it with zany comedy and romance, thus bringing in yet another essential genre: the screwball comedy.” Schudson goes on to say, “The feminism that may not have seen the light of day in the cinema of the 70’s is vibrant and alive with [Rosanna] Arquette’s Roberta and Madonna’s Susan. It is a disruption of the traditional view of woman as homemaker, and a forced recognition of woman as full-fledged person, unto herself.” As such, DESPERATELY SEEKING SUSAN perfectly exemplifies the mission behind Seeking Our Story. Please take the time to read Schudson’s complete analysis of the film here.
I hope, through viewing these films with my friends, to build confidence in my own creative abilities. I am seeking an alternative story, seeking to embrace my life as a woman who pursues outrageous goals and achieves self-fulfillment through the process of chasing my dreams. Please take a moment to like Seeking Our Story on on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for future screening details.