Seeing for Ourselves. Women working with film

DirectorMargaret Williams
One line synopsisA look at Circles, a company set up in 1980 to promote audiovisual work by women and to facilitate research and discussion of issues concerning women working in film and related media.

Caption: "There is nothing connected with the staging of a motion picture that a woman cannot do as easily as a man and there is no reason why she cannot completely master every technicality of the art." Alice Guy, Woman’s place in Photoplay production, 1914. Text seen as exhibit in window. Exterior the offices of Circles. Circles worker Felicity Sparrow taking a telephone booking. Sparrow VO describing Circles’s activities: distributing audiovisual works by women, organising shows of this and related disciplines, enabling women-only discussion groups, researching women’s film history and bringing earlier productions back into circulation. Photographs of Alice Guy, and stills from her work. Sparrow’s VO describes her career in France and America. Sparrow talking about Guy while introducing a programme of Circles material to and audience. Excerpt from Guy’s A House Divided (1913). Photographs from Often During the Day (1979) being projected onto the film-maker, Joanna Davis. Davis’s VO talking about the importance of careful co-operative programming, the showing of older films alongside those of contemporary independent film-makers, etc. "We see Circles as a small network of resistance, drawing together women working in opposition to the industry, an industry that has deliberately excluded women." Kitchen scenes. Voices of Circles’s founders, Davis, Tina Keane, Annabel Nicolson, Lis Rhodes, Sparrow. Discussion of how women can work outside the mainstream, but how their work is often more fragmented. Keane VO discussing her move from painting (work shown) to performance (photographs of her work). Film of Keane and her daughter Emily looking at a display of her video piece, Dialogue. Keane talking about using Super-8 on Shadow of a Journey (1980), filmed on the ferry between Skye and Harris. Excerpt with the voice of Peggie Morrison on the soundtrack, singing and talking about the Clearances. Keane talking about the background to her film Hey Mack (1982). Excerpt with Disband on the soundtrack. Keane in discussion group talking about the importance of the "language" of women’s work. One of the speakers in the discussion is film-maker Lezli-An Barrett.Annabel Nicolson talking about her film-making in which she works directly with the film itself, sticking other pieces of film onto it, drawing on it, sewing parts of it together, and moving the film by hand while it’s passing through the contact printer. Excerpt from Slides I-IV (1971) Nicolson shows the wooden camera she made. Photographs of Nicolson in some of her performance pieces. Nicolson describing factors forming part of the development of a new performance work. Shown in this new work about a woman she’d seen singing at Greenham Common. Nicolson introducing a film she made about Greenham Common. Excerpt from film. Film of women lying down on a pedestrian crossing near the Stock Exchange (1984), designed as a record of the non-violent protest but which later proved useful in court. Sparrow speaking in discussion group on the nature of women-only events. Nicolson also speaks. Davis with photographs she took in preparation for her film Often During the Day (1979). Talks about finishing the film at the same time as she was looking after her new baby. Excerpts from the film. VOs of Davis and Rhodes. Davis and Rhodes reading texts to do with women and employment, and with the consequences of the 1850 Act of Parliament which decreed that masculine words in legislation should be taken to include females. Rhodes talking about women’s writing; excerpt from her films Light Reading (1978), and Pictures on Pink Paper (1982).Caption taken from 1980 United National report: women are 50% of the world’s population; women do 75% of the world’s working hours; women receive 10% of the world’s income; women own less than 1% of the world’s property. Light Reading. Photographs of Germaine Dulac and stills from her work. Sparrow’s VO describes her life and career. Excerpts from La Souriante Madame Beudet/The Smiling Madame Beudet (1922). Discussion group. Rhodes, Sparrow, Nicolson, Davis and Susan Stein are among those talking about Mme Beudet, about Nicolson’s Greenham Common film, the problem of "intellectualising" events and feelings, and women’s "language". Credits.

Production companyArbor International
Running time56 minutes
Full credits

We wish to thank Air Gallery,
Minnie Bunt,
Circles Distribution,
Chisenhale Dance Space,
Mick Duffield,
Four Corners,
Anita Harper,
JVC (UK) Ltd.,
Jacky Tyler,
Catherine Terris,
Independent Radio News,
The Women at Greenham Common;
also the women in the discussion Val Allen,
Lezli-An Barrett,
Elaine Burrows,
Julia Defferary,
Hilary Dunn,
Margaret Gillan,
Emma Hindley,
Mary Pat Leece,
Sally McLeay,
Jayne Parker,
Mary Prestidge,
Auriol Roberts,
Susan Stein
Barbara Stokes;
and the Five Women Jo Davis,
Tina Keane,
Annabel Nicolson,
Lis Rhodes,
Felicity Sparrow.
Series Editor David Curtis;
Camera Erika Stevenson;
Assistant Caroline Spry;
Sound Diana Ruston;
Assistant Mandy Rose;
Dubbing Mixer Aad Wirtz;
Music Lindsay Cooper,
Disband NYC,
Peggie Morrison;
Editor JoAnn Kaplan;
Assistant Li Guy;
Director Margaret Williams;
Producer Fiz Oliver.
An Arbor International Production for Channel 4 & Arts Council of Great Britain.
© 1983.

Film segmentSeeing for Ourselves. Women working with film - ACE133.2
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Seeing for Ourselves. Women working with film - ACE133.6
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