Symposium: 21st May 2015

 Independent Film (and) Women

A one day symposium organized by:
The Department of Communication and Media (University of Liverpool)
The Institute for Creative Enterprise (ICE)
The Department of Media (Edge Hill University)

Thursday 21 May 2015
12:45 – 7:30pm
Rendall Building, Lecture Theatres 2 and 3, University of Liverpool

Although studies of independent film, especially in the United States, have blossomed over the past 25 or so years, with a large number of academic and more popular books published on the subject, the sub-topic of women independent filmmakers has remained vastly under-researched. Despite pioneering work by feminist film scholars in the 1970s and 1980s, and their efforts to support an openly political independent cinema, once the field of (American) independent cinema studies emerged in the 1990s, it took a direction that all but excluded significant attention to independent film women, whether openly oppositional filmmakers or ones working within an increasingly institutionalized independent film sector. Indeed, work by women filmmakers tended to be covered either within token chapters in surveys of contemporary American independent cinema such as Emanuel Levy’s Cinema of Outsiders (1999) or through focus to individual film discussions such as Go Fish (1994) in John Pierson’s Spike, Mike, Slackers and Dykes (1995), with the rest of similar filmmaking activity going largely unnoticed and only discussed (again minimally) in the pages of semi-academic/semi-commercial journals such as Film Comment, Film Quarterly and American Film.

More recently, however, the field has seen more interest thanks to the work of scholars such as Chris Holmlund, who co-edited the Contemporary American Independent Film volume (2005) and published numerous essays on the subject, Christina Lane, also a significant contributor through a number of essays on women filmmakers and Hilary Radner, whose recently authored and edited volumes on feminist and neo-feminist cinema threw ample light on independent films with strong interest for women.  In 2014, Linda Badley, Claire Perkins and Michele Schreiber, all scholars who also had done work on independent film and women, announced the Indie Reframed collection, a volume that was set up to focus specifically on debates about the place and contribution of women (filmmakers) in American independent cinema.

With these and other similar efforts starting to redress the balance, and with the opportunity afforded by Professor Chris Holmlund’s visit to Liverpool (18-25 May) as a joint visiting professor to the Department of Communication and Media at the University of Liverpool and the Department of Media at Edge Hill University, this one day symposium aims to make its own contribution to this increasingly vibrant area in independent cinema studies.

Bringing together scholars from across the country who have done significant work in, among others, the fields of women’s films, distribution promotion and exhibition, silent cinema, queer film studies, underground cinema, American independent cinema and media industry studies, and with Professor Chris Holmlund as keynote speaker, this symposium promises to ask important questions on the subject of the contribution of women in/and independent film and participate in the emerging debates that surround it.

Participation is FREE, but please confirm attendance through email to the conference convener, Yannis Tzioumakis:

The Symposium Schedule is available to download. (schedule is subject to change)

Chris Holmlund is currently Hedda Andersson Visiting Research Professor at Lund University (Sweden) and Past President of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies. This summer she will return to the University of Tennessee; there she is Arts and Sciences Excellence Professor of French, Women’s Studies and Film. She is the author of Impossible Bodies (Routledge, 2002), editor of The Ultimate Stallone Reader: Sylvester Stallone as Star, Icon, Auteur, (Columbia UP/Wallflower, 2014), American Cinema of the 1990s (Rutgers UP, 2008), co-editor (with Justin Wyatt) of Contemporary American Independent Film (Routledge, 2005) and (with Cynthia Fuchs) of Between the Sheets, In the Streets: Queer, Lesbian, Gay Documentary (Minnesota UP, 1997). Current projects include books on Female Trouble and Being John Malkovich, and a co-edited issue on “Sexuality” for the Journal of Scandinavian Cinema.

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