As with nearly every artistic medium, the conversation surrounding experimental cinema has long been overshadowed by the achievements of a handful of white men.
“Experimental film is a kind of haven for marginalized groups that need an alternative way to express themselves,” says Mia Ferm, the education program manager at the NW Film Center. “But some people, when presenting the history of this work, are like, ‘Oh, I just show some Stan Brakhage and call it a day.’”
Each Sunday this month, the Film Center is providing an alternative to that narrow view with the series Not Sorry: Feminist Experimental Film from the 1970s to Today. Co-curated by Ferm and PSU School of Film Assistant Professor Kristin Hole, each program spans the globe and the past four decades to give a crisp, pointed platform for a multitude of cinematic voices from society’s edges.
The breadth of this series is as impressive as the range of approaches that each filmmaker takes to relay their respective messages. Turkish-American director Nazli Dinçel’s Her Silent Seaming features a soundtrack of rattling noise alongside handwritten text detailing the awful things men have said to her during sex. Popsicles, a short by late Chilean artist Gloria Camiruaga, goes even more abstract, with close ups of women devouring the titular treat—inside of which are embedded plastic army men—as they recite a prayer. The series also gives a nod to local filmmakers, with work from Vanessa Renwick and Hannah Piper Burns.
Though Ferm and Hole cast their nets wide to include voices from Lebanon and Ghana—as well as from the trans community—both women emphasize that the programming of Not Sorry has a decidedly narrow focus. But it's one that they hope will allow for viewers' further exploration of experimental cinema made by women.
“The idea isn’t to say, ‘This is the be all, end all. We’ve done it!'” says Ferm. “We could do a program like this a million times over, and we’d never include the same filmmakers. We’re trying to start an argument of sorts, but have it be an open thing where people can reach their own conclusions.”
Not Sorry: Feminist Experimental Film from the 1970s to Today runs Sun Oct 7-Sun Oct 28 at NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium. Complete schedule and showtimes at nwfilm.org.