Report of SW Area Workshop – Women and Film

When groups in Devon were planning an Area workshop, member Marie Handyside knew who would fit the bill. Her daughter Dr Fiona Handyside is a senior lecturer in European film at the University of Exeter and had recently written a book on 'Sofia Coppola; A Cinema of Girlhood' (featured in the 2017 Big Read). So, on Saturday 28 October, over forty members and visitors from Devon and Cornwall came together for a workshop on 'Women and Film: Images, Memories and Fantasies'.

We started with a presentation by Fiona and her colleague Dr Danielle Hipkins, which expanded on the NWR national theme for 2017 of women in film. Interspersed with film clips, they focused on the multiple ways women interact with film: as directors, as stars and as viewers. We learnt how films such as 'Breakfast at Tiffanys', 'Pretty Woman' and 'Lost in Translation' subverted and changed how women were portrayed. Some of the very few 2017 films made by women such as 'United Kingdom', Wonder Women', 'Viceroy's House' and 'Beguiled' were highlighted.

After an excellent lunch we moved from the cinema style setting to workshop tables and encouraged by various questions, discussed the changing roles of women in film and shared memories of cinema going. Some members were regular cinema goers in the 1950s and 60s and recalled plots and stars from those times. Memories were stimulated and illuminated by posters, books and magazines from the University's Bill Douglas Cinema Museum. 

Many thanks to Carolyn Hempenstall, Glenda Cooper and the area team for arranging such an interesting, informative and stimulating event. I returned home inspired to find out more, view productions more critically and with a list of films to see and some to watch again.

Fiona and Danielle have kindly offered to create a pack so that other NWR groups can explore or revisit the Women in Film topic.

Josephine Burt

Oct 2017

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