The Women & Film Project charts an ongoing research project into Women & Film, the first ever feminist film magazine, which was published in California between 1972-1975. Though short-lived, Women & Film heralded the explosion in women’s filmmaking and film writing that took place throughout the seventies following the advent of the women’s liberation movement toward the end of the 60s.
The magazine was the first real forum for feminist to discuss and explore women’s role in cinema: how were women represented on film? Did such representations have any social significance? And how did a filmmaker’s gender affect his or her films? These questions and many others were considered by the magazine’s wide range of contributors. Many of the students, academics, activists and filmmakers who wrote for Women & Film went on to play significant roles in the development of film theory and feminist criticism over the following decades.
Yet despite its crucial role in the emergence of feminist film criticism and theory, the story of Women & Film has largely gone unwritten. The Women & Film Project is an attempt to retrace the story of the magazine’s founding, development and demise against the tumultuous backdrop of late 1960s and early 70s America. Rooted in the activism and counterculture of the West Coast during the 1970s, the magazine bridges the gap between the first impassioned critiques of mainstream American and European cinema informed by second wave feminism and the pioneers of the women’s film movement, with the later establishment of feminist film theory and criticism and the practitioners of women’s counter-cinema, such as Laura Mulvey, Peter Wollen,Yvonne Rainer and Sally Potter.
The site grew out of a PhD research project being conducted by Clarissa Jacob, a candidate at Royal Holloway, University of London, as a space to collect information, images and videos relating to the magazine and the wider women’s film movement and feminist movement. At some point during her two years of research, it soon became apparent to Clarissa that the most fitting way to recount the history of Women & Film would be to make a documentary. Following a successful Kickstarter campaign, she and friend and collaborator Kate Wieteska embarked on a month of travelling in the US. There, they filmed the stories and testimonies of the number women (and men) involved in Women & Film. Visit The Women & Film Project to find out more, where you can follow the project’s progress and film’s development.