We established a global collective of world cinema historians, filmmakers and archivists, in order to accelerate and connect individual efforts to safeguard women’s film culture and heritage. The researchers in this network envisage increased collaboration across borders; better awareness of presences, absences and practices; and improved methodologies that thrive on collaborations between partners across borders.
The network was initiated by researchers affiliated with the Centre for Communication, Cultural and Media Studies at QMU, partnering with The Janovics Center for Screen and Performing Arts at Babeș-Bolyai University in Romania and the Africa in Motion Film Festival’s ‘Africa’s Lost Classics’ Project.
The first collaborative networking event took place 10-14 January 2022, with a follow-up symposium in January 2023. These events brought together international film historians, archivists and restoration technicians, to map existing safeguarding work and seek out productive pathways towards collaborations that instigate new work on the demystification of "lost" women's films.
The first collaborative networking event takes place 10-14 January 2022, with a follow-up event in January 2023. These events bring together international film historians, archivists and restoration technicians, to map existing safeguarding work and seek out productive pathways towards collaborations that instigate new work on the demystification of "lost" women's films.
This initiative is rooted in a desire to consider the diverse methodologies of decolonizing film history in an activist feminist way. We critique the continued Western European dominance of funding and infrastructure for these efforts (including our own). We address the (neo-)colonial history of archives, museums and festivals; the sense of “service” practiced by these institutions; and the (material and conceptual) ownership of artefacts and restorations. This network emphasises the roles of women filmmakers in history; the contributions of feminist scholars to film historiography; and the women workers shaping the structures on which the archival and preservation institutions are built.
The overall research questions for this project are:
- How can we decolonise archives and skills for feminist film heritage preservation?
- How do we conceptualise feminism as an ally in the film decolonisation movement?
- Are there any provisions for the safeguarding or the futureproofing of the feminist film heritage of the Non-Aligned Countries?
- How do we assist or support the safeguarding of that heritage for new young filmmakers who are working to decolonise the cinemas of the Non-Aligned Countries?
- Where are the restoration training opportunities for local talent? If there are none, how do we support training opportunities?
10-14 January 2022
The first event was a week of online networking workshops, organised by QMU in Edinburgh. Delegates were invited to share special interests and knowledge, and practice ‘non-aligned’ methodologies: mutual respect, integrity, non-aggression, non-interference, equality and mutual benefit and peaceful co-existence. This resulted in the recognition of archives and preservation facilities and professionals, identifying films and filmmaker collectives, self-reflexively locating work, filmmakers and archivists, and collaborating with one another for further research.
The research team has travelled to archives in their areas of specialism, and made concrete connections with preservationist and archivist teams around the globe, to better understand shortcomings and neglect in existing research and funding routes. Discussions focused on the increased visibility of women’s contributions to film history, better accessibility to the archives where these “forgotten” films might be stored and more productive liaisons between archives, scholars and film curators, so that the films may be accessed and screened globally.
9-13 January 2023
The second event will take place in person, at Babeș-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, and will be organised by Dr Ana Grgic. Themes that emerged from this symposium were the global film movements and women’s networks. 27 international researchers, filmmakers and archivist practitioners presented their work.
From the two networking symposia we selected a diverse and exciting number of papers that will feature, either in essay form, as creative writing or as video essays, in an open access publication with a wonderful publisher who will provide a platform for our shared work. Publication is planned in 2024.