Monday, March 30, 2009

Charlie Chaplin in Drag...

The 2009 catalog of Women Make Movies arrived in my (snail) mailbox this afternoon, & it's full of stuff I'd love to see. Three of them particularly caught my eye:

Courting Justice, by Ruth Cowan and Jane Thand Lipman: From tyranny to democracy. Fourteen years after the defeat of apartheid, South Africa’s fledgling democracy is acclaimed for its constitutional promise of comprehensive human rights and unprecedented judicial reform. But what is essential for transformation to succeed? Courting Justice profiles indomitable female judges charged with the task of guarding those rights and enacting transitional justice.

The Feminist Initiative by Liv Weisberg reveals the passion, pitfalls and promise of a diverse group of women working to establish the world’s first feminist political party in Sweden in the spring of 2005. Charting every step (and misstep) along the way, Weisberg follows an ex-party leader, a couple of '70s feminists, a group of homo-bi-transsexuals, and several enthusiastic younger women from their energetic start to the climatic moments of their inspiring, celebrity-supported rally.

Suffragettes in the Silent Cinema by Kay Sloan: In the days before movies could talk, silent films spoke clearly of sexual politics. This rare and wonderful assemblage of silent era footage opens a historic window on how filmmakers on both sides of the women’s suffrage issue used the exciting new medium to create powerful propaganda and images about women. Taking advantage of the powerful new medium, early filmmakers on both sides of the contentious issue of suffrage used film to create powerful propaganda and images about women. Suffragettes in the Silent Cinema contains clips from many films from the era, including: A Lively Affair (1912); A Busy Day (1914), which stars a young Charlie Chaplin in drag portraying a suffragist; and the pro-suffragist film, What 80 Million Women Want (1913), which includes an eloquent speech from president of the Women’s Political Union, Harriet Stanton Blatch. Silent films may have passed into history, and their representations of feminists abandoning babies or stealing bicycles to attend suffragette meetings may now seem outrageous, but the struggle for gender equality and the issues surrounding representations of women in the media remain as fascinating, engaging, and relevant as ever.

Though too pricey for individuals to purchase or rent, they'd be great at WisCon, wouldn't they? Or some other gathering, were we ever to follow through on our ideas for "feminist think tanks"...

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