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

'Water Protectors', by Leana Hosea

Leana Hosea's Water Protectors isabout ordinary women in Flint, at Standing Rock and on the Navajo reservation who have had their water poisoned and are at the forefront in the movement for clean water.

Water is a big issue in Aotearoa New Zealand, too– the degradation of our waterways; drinking water contamination; the offshore sale of our pure water; the debate about Maori sovereignty over water, under Te Tiriti o Waitangi/ the Treaty of Waitangi, signed in 1840.  Partly because this has raised my awareness about the significance of access to water, my heart is absolutely with the women in Leana's work. And with Leana, editing through the night as I write this.

Leana is a reporter/producer for BBC's World Service Radio and has held many other roles within the BBC. As a highly experienced multimedia journalist she's originated ideas, fixed stories, written scripts, filmed and edited them.

She was a shoot/edit/reporter/producer for the BBC in Egypt during the revoluti…

Safety in Paradise?

Children play in safety on the beach beyond my window. Some aren't safe at home, but they do not die in rocket attacks. Along our promenade, this year’s most sustained sirens wailed from motorbike cavalcades, as they escorted royalty to and from the airport. At school, our children may arrive hungry. But they're safe from abduction. The closest I’ve ever been to a war is my parents' silence about 'their' war, refuge women's stories about men returned from wars and Bruce Cunningham’s stories, after I met him selling Anzac poppies. (He was a Lancaster pilot in World War II and then a prisoner-of-war and I’m making a short doco about him.)

Yes, in many ways Wellington, New Zealand is paradise and I’m blessed to live here and to benefit from love and generosity from women and men, my beautiful sons now among those men. But in an interview with Matthew Hammett Knott earlier this year, I found myself saying–
We have to deal with serial violation, direct and subtle, on…

The NZ International Film Festival – 1. New Zealand Women

The Context
This week, the United Nations women's agency, UN Women, joined forces with activist and Academy Award-winning actor Geena Davis, to support the first global study of how women and girls are portrayed in family films. The study will examine the top-grossing international movies in Australia, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Russia, Spain and the United Kingdom. According to Geena Davis, the current dearth of female characters of substance in family films means that children are being taught that girls and women 'don't take up half of the space in the world'. And for Lakshimi Puri, acting head of UN Women:
Gender representation in film influences the perception of women and girls, their self-esteem and the relationships between the sexes... We cannot let the negative depiction of women and girls erode the hard gains that have been made on gender equality and women's empowerment.Also this week, in a  report for CNN, Melissa Silverstein of Women &…