October 7, 2012 • Podcasts
Feminism on Film
Continued from page 2
CP: At Newcastle University, I’m the co-chair of a group we have called the Gender Research group. And this is a group that brings together staff, postgraduates, undergraduate students across the whole university, who are interested in gender. Um, gender, also kind of feminist theory, sexuality studies, things like that. Every year, we kind of aim to organize a program event –events - both for, kind of students and staff at university, but also something that people outside the university and the local community can participate in. And what we found is that when we were doing research talks or workshops at the university, that really wasn’t something that felt very open to people who weren’t either studying or working at Newcastle. So we were brainstorming about, you know, how do you to get people engaged, because people are interested in gender and feminism and kind of those issues, but not necessarily in an academic context.
So we had the idea of a film series with six films, um, some popular, some, kind of more obscure or kind of alternative, but all dealing with issues of gender, feminism and each film would be introduced by kind of an expert in the field, or somebody who could talk about it and make it accessible and interesting, um, to kind of a wide group of people. And that’s when we decided that it was a good idea, but we didn’t necessarily have enough expertise ourselves to kind of plan, select the films, and curate the whole series, and that’s where Rebecca Knight came in. What we’ve found is that it has been a huge success, actually. Um, I mean, we’ve only had two events so far, but they’ve both been sold out, and the discussion afterwards has been really exciting and great to see.
JD: Why was the medium of film chosen?
CP: As a genre, film is really one of the key ways that we think through ideas about gender, power, you know, the body; issues of liberation, equality, freedom; issues of oppression or marginalization or regulation. I think as a genre, it can do that in ways that other genres can’t or don’t do in the same way, so there’s scope within film for kind of following a story or a narrative from different angles and over time that you don’t necessarily see in television, for example. And also, kind of room for imagining, like imagining how things could be radically different, that I think is really interesting.
JD: What is the importance of holding events like this?
CP: Thinking before, about, there’s still these questions of, you know, “Is feminism dead?”. An event like this, themed around feminism on film that’s been so successful so far in generating interest, is a really good counter message to kind of the “feminism is dead”, claim that we hear again and again and again. And it’s kind of saying, well it’s not dead, because, actually, all of these people are interested, engaged, sometimes angry, you know, about issues, but also passionate. And I think it’s a really good way, politically, for kind of engaging in debates about gender, power, sexuality, race, age, a lot of the films that were showing are thinking about intersectional issues – so gender as it intersects with sexuality, race, class, nation, and kind of other categories.
Another reason is Newcastle is very interested as a university in being a civic university. So, not being, an ivory tower institution where we only talk to each other, within our own kind of boundaries, but really engaging with the community and the city and being part of it. And I think this is one set of activities that has been quite successful in doing that.
JD: Well, thank you so much for all of that information. Now, I’m getting really intrigued about tonight’s screening and the guest speaker. The film is called Eat the Kimono and it’s described as “a brilliant documentary about Hanayagi Genshu, a Japanese feminist and avant-garde dancer and performer who spent her entire life defying her conservative culture’s contempt for independence and unconventionality” on the Women Make Movies website. I’m really excited to talk to tonight’s guest speaker, Dr. Nobuko Anan, a lecturer in performance at Northumbria University, which is another university in Newcastle.