Skip to main content

Celebrating women-loving women 3: Kay Armatage


A little while ago, my copy of There She Goes: Feminist Filmmaking and Beyond went missing in the mail, so I've read it only recently (hungrily), including a chapter by Kay Armatage, who was an international programmer for the Toronto International Film Festival from 1982-2004.

And then yesterday, melsil (Women & Hollywood) sent out a tweet re Cannes, where yet again women writers and directors are poorly represented. "The rumblings have started. Women are organizing for Cannes. Can't wait to see what happens," she wrote. I can't wait either.

In the meantime though, I'm celebrating Kay. In the Fashioning a feminist community section of her chapter she wrote:
Although my beat also developed as a low-budget independent, New York 'underground', formalist documentaries, avant-grade, 'new narrative', new Black British, and queer cinema, I was primarily known internationally...as a dedicated programmer of women directors in many cinematic modes. In Toronto, you could count on seeing the most recent Potters, Akermans, Ottingers, and Rainers as they appeared, along with new voices such as Monika Treut, Julie Dash, Tracey Moffit, Moufida Tlatli, Rose Troche, Samira Makhmalbaf, and Nicole Holofcener. In my festival selections, I averaged at least 50 per cent women directors through the mid-1990s (I always counted), at which point the numbers of women's films on offer unfortunately dwindled. Nonetheless, my last year at TIFF, 2004, proved exceptional in this regard: many of the most well-established women directors as well as a handful of newcomers were there with their new films.

There's more, and I found it fascinating, especially as New Zealand women's films showed at Toronto while she was there. Who's counting now? And where are today's Kay Armatages? Not in Cannes, I guess. And probably not in Wellington. (We still haven't had Sally Potter's RAGE on a big screen here.) I'd love to know more about the Kay Armatages of the world.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

NZ Update #12: Everything's Gonna Be All Right?

Look at these two! Our Prime Minister and our distinguished filmmaker and global advocate for women filmmakers meet, at last week's SPADA (Screen Production and Development Association) conference. Look at their pleasure in each other. Their body language. Their close attention.




For me, this meeting is a significant turning point in the movement to gender equity in the allocation of public money for screen storytelling. The first one was at 2015's Big Screen Symposium, when Chelsea Cohen – with support from other Māori women – spoke out  about the need to allocate New Zealand Film Commission funding equally to women and men. Our first woman writer/director/producer to do this publicly. Her courage made it safer for others to follow her example.

So: what might this Jacinda-And-Jane meeting mean?

The new government has already announced its commitment to pay equity and I think we can now be confident that gender equity will infuse screen production. I think we can also be confid…

Pause. Reflect. Cherish.

Chantal Akerman's Death
I tried to write about why I felt so deeply sad about Chantal Akerman's death, then read a post from poet Ana Božičević, who got it just right for me–
No one knows for sure why a woman takes her life but that Chantal A might have done so in part because her No Home Movie – about her mother Natalia an Auschwitz survivor, which was grueling to make – was booed...really breaks my heart this morning. I wonder always, who cares, as in provides care, for the women artists who go to deep dark uncommercial places? Which intimate understands the skill, of craft and emotion, necessary for the work that they do? I wrote in some napkin or tweet once 'they only love the Sylvias after they are dead'. Give care to the woman artist in your life even and especially when she does the hard depth work that challenges the mind and body, yours and hers. And if you are that woman, thank you today & every day. Thank you, Ana. And many thanks for letting me reprint …

NZ Update #17.1 Safety Revisited

(This is easier to read over on Medium)

Back in October, just before the #directedbywomen screenings in Auckland, I tumbled down a steep flight of wooden steps in Auckland's Ayr Street Reserve. Cracked one ankle and broke the fibula in my other leg. Missed spring gardening. Missed all of Wanuri Kahiu's visit (but not some beautiful responses from the many people she inspired and revitalised).

Couldn't transcribe or edit my #directedbywomen Skype interview with Isabel Coixet. Couldn't edit and publish other almost-ready interviews I cherished. Couldn't organise more screenings that filmmakers had requested, with the films' directors beamed in to Te Auaha's small treasure of a cinema for Q & As, also via Skype.

After two months almost entirely at home, half-way down a pedestrian-access steep zigzag, I'm fully mobile again. With thanks to the Accident Compensation Corporation's (ACC, our universal no-fault accidental injury scheme) fine services; to…