Archiving Women in Film and TV

Archiving Women in Film & TV focuses on the history of archives documenting feminist filmmakers – considering how filmmakers have constructed and thought about their archives, and examining the opportunities and challenges of archiving women’s film and TV history. It also aims to explore ways of bringing women’s archives and history to a broader public. Specifically, the project focuses on collections on women in film and TV held at Feminist Archive North (FAN), including the papers of Leeds Animation Workshop (LAW), Vera Media and the Women’s Film, Television and Video Network (WFTVN). LAW and Vera Media are independent feminist filmmaking collectives, while WFTVN was a national network seeking better representation for and of women in the media. Until recently, film and TV archives were marginalised within the archival profession, with historians often exploiting moving images to illustrate narratives centred on the written archives, but rarely examining these as documents in their own right. Yet, as this project aims to show, these rich (and as yet unstudied!) collections form an important part of the history of the women’s liberation movement and the history British film and television.

Funded by the Cultural and Creative Industries Exchange at the University of Leeds,  this project is a collaboration with FAN, LAW and Vera Media. It involves archival research into the collections themselves – with a view to making them more accessible to researchers and the broader public. In addition, we will conduct video interviews with founding members of LAW and Vera Media on the history of their archives, which will be made freely available via FAN’s website and here at Feminist Archives, Feminist Futures.

The project also involves a series of events aimed at bringing FAN’s collections – and the history of women in film and television more generally – to the attention of the broader public. The first of these was a workshop, held at the University of Leeds on Thursday 14 May 2015, which brought together feminist filmmakers, archivists and historians of women and gender to explore the opportunities and challenges of archiving women’s film and television history. This was followed, on Tuesday 19 May, by a public screening of LAW and Vera Media films at Hyde Park Picture House.