At a moment when gender parity in the entertainment industry is still a pressing concern even as directors such as Ava DuVernay, Kelly Reichardt, Kathryn Bigelow and others continue to chart their own courses of success, the Archive is pleased to highlight another particularly productive and visionary moment when women were claiming—against the odds—their place behind the camera, and working, in many cases, to change the rules of filmmaking itself. While pioneers such as Lois Weber, Dorothy Arzner and Ida Lupino held their ground during Hollywood’s classical era, the 1970s and 1980s saw a relative explosion in the number of women directing across an array of production practices. A period marked by radical experimentation and groundbreaking forays into narrative features, these decades of production are often demarcated between an explicitly feminist output in the 1970s and less overtly political films of the 1980s which nevertheless built on the progress made before. Acknowledging the multitudinous and intersecting histories, practices and meanings that a phrase such as “women’s cinema” can evoke, the Archive presents a selection of films directed by women from both decades that express in original cinematic terms the intellectual and artistic energies of their times—and which continue to compel our attentions today.
This program is generously supported by a grant from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Special thanks: Shannon Kelley.