What is feminist experimental film? How is it experimental, what makes it feminist, and why are we even talking about this right now? Because a new series at the Northwest Film Center—winningly titled “Not Sorry”—takes a deep dive into 40-plus years of feminist experimental film, from the 1970s to today, and because, says the series programmer Mia Ferm, it’s time to listen to women’s voices.
“How do you define what a feminist film is?” asks Ferm. “In the case of the gendered experiences that women have, in the case of assault, oppression, shaming, it’s very important for women to hear other women’s voices.” She references experimental films that take on subjects from slut shaming to sexual objectification, and adds: “I feel like those kind of images speak very directly to what we’re thinking about today.”
The series was inspired by a new book, Film Feminisms: A Global Introduction, co-written by PSU film professor Dr Kristin Lené Hole, who will attend all the screenings with Ferm. Hole says experimental film is a medium often chosen by women and marginalized people to tell stories that don’t get find a place in dominant media. “Experimental modes of filmmaking tend to be more accessible to women and marginalized people,” she says. “For various reasons it’s a medium where there are a lot of marginalized voices that can express themselves.”
The series will show work that grapples with the notion of heritage, and how class, access, nationality, and race can affect how history is interpreted as a woman; stories that meditate on the theme of the body as a vessel; stories of home and displacement; and stories that re-appropriate popular culture to pick apart stereotypes. Audiences will see works that range in style and subject from Peggy Ahwesh’s She Puppet (2001), which repurposes footage of Lara Croft, to black feminist work from Barbara McCullough, to contemporary pieces from the likes of Turkish-American filmmaker Nazil Dinçel and Portland artists Vanessa Renwick and Julie Perini. Filmmakers will be in attendance at several of the screenings, and will participate in post-film discussions with audience members.
Audience members, roll up your sleeves. “While you’re watching [the films], you do have to work a little bit, you have to be proactive in a way,” says Ferm. “Come in with that expectation: I’m not going to sit down and watch a story unfold in front of me, but I’m going to sit down and interact."
7 p.m. Sundays thru Oct 28, Northwest Film Center, $8–10