Announcing! 'Mothers of Invention: Parenting &/as Filmmaking Practice'

Corinn Columpar

Sophie Mayer

Remember  Corinn Columpar and Sophie Mayer's book, There She Goes: Feminist Filmmaking & Beyond, back in 2009?  Corinn followed There She Goes with Unsettling Sights: The Fourth World on Film (2010) and Sophie wrote Political Animals: The New Feminist Cinema (2015) (WW interview here) as well as The Cinema of Sally Potter: The Politics of Love.

I love their activist writing and editing work about #womeninfilm, with its emphasis on intersectionality and rigour and its love of women's onscreen stories.

Sophie-as-interlocutor in one of her many activist roles
Now Corinn and Sophie are back together for a new collection, Mothers of Invention: Parenting and/as Filmmaking Practice! And they're calling for contributions. This is how they explain the ideas behind Mothers of Invention and what they're looking for–

In 1983, E. Ann Kaplan famously called second-wave feminist film culture a movement created by daughters 'unwittingly…repeat[ing] the patriarchal omission of the Mother'. By way of what Charlotte Brunsdon has called disidentification, several scholars and practitioners associated with more recent varieties of film feminism, from its third wave to its 'post' incarnation, have, unwittingly or not, followed suit.

Swimming against this tide, Mothers of Invention invites contributors to help construct a feminist genealogy of a different sort, one that foregrounds the relationship between acts of production on the one hand and those associated with reproductive and caring labour on the other.

More specifically, it seeks to build on the ground-breaking industry research already underway at the Raising Films campaign in the UK [Sophie's been deeply involved in Raising Films] and Moms in Film in the US in order to create an interdisciplinary edited collection that considers the role that parenting, as both a theme and a diversified practice, plays in film and media cultures.

Mothers of Invention welcomes essays about fatherhood and film and media, but the balance of the volume will be weighted toward mothers and female carers, particularly those from communities that have been historically under-represented, marginalised, and/or excluded from film and moving image practice.

As much as the film and media industries, especially at the commercial end, present a challenge for all people with caring responsibilities, those who identify as female remain disproportionately responsible for caring and domestic labour.

It is precisely the nature of this challenge – as well as the acts of creative invention and innovative resistance it has inspired – that are of interest to this volume. Indeed, works as diverse as Mary Kelly’s Post Partum Document (1973-79), Agnès Varda’s Daguerréotypes (1976), Arnait Video’s Before Tomorrow (2008), and Sophie Hyde’s 52 Tuesdays (2013) [WW interview with Sophie here] incorporate parenting and caring labour into both their narrative content and their artistic practice and thereby contribute to a transnational and transgenerational body of work has yet to be considered through the lens of feminist parenting studies.

We invite contributions on historical and contemporary global moving image practices, across the spectrum from industrial to artisanal and concerning all key production roles.

We are open to a wide range of approaches, from close readings of film and media objects to industrial analyses to studies of circulation and spectatorship, and we welcome work from a variety of disciplines, including the following: film, television, and/or media studies; cultural and creative industries; women and gender studies; moving image practice-based research; media anthropology; and cultural studies.

Finally, following Lisa Baraitser’s definitional essay Mothers Who Make Things Public (2009), we use the term mother to 'denote anyone who both identifies as female and performs primary maternal work, with a ‘child’ being understood as the other whom such a ‘mother’ elects, names and claims as her child,” and carer to denote anyone who performs primary physical and emotional work unremunerated for a partner, parent, sibling, other family member, or friend.

Please submit a 500-word proposal and brief biographical note to corinn.columpar@utoronto.ca and sophie@sophiemayer.net by 1 August 2017.

We anticipate that finished essays will be approximately 6000 words in length, including notes, and we plan to send out acceptances of proposals by the end of September 2017. Feel free to email us prior to the deadline with any questions.

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PS Possible reads while you're thinking about your own contribution–

There's lots to think about among the posts on the Raising Films and Moms-in-Film sites. They provide fine examples of the connections between filmmaking and motherhood/caring and it's just a little step to an idea that fits within Corinn and Sophie's parameters?

Filmmaker and academic Alexandra Hidalgo's Cámara Retórica: A Feminist Filmmaking Methodology for Rhetoric and Composition (160 minutes, 2017), a collection of six interconnected video essays that examines both feminist filmmaking and film and video production in Rhetoric and Composition. 

Alexandra's sons are an integral part of her work, as she points out in her intro –

In true feminist fashion, much of the writing was done while nursing my youngest son or holding him as he slept, and much of the footage was filmed with my two sons participating in the process. 




When I was a little girl, the show He-Man became a hit in Venezuela, where I was born. I didn’t much care for the muscle man and his cat, but TV executives decided to capitalize on his success by giving him a twin sister named She-Ra, who had her own show. As the studio heads predicted, little girls were much more interested in the brave warrior princess. During the course of each episode the animators would hide Loo-Kee, an elf-eared, squirrel-tailed character, in various scenes, and at the end they would ask viewers if they’d found him, showing us the places where they’d placed him. You’re welcome to play Loo-Kee’s game with my eldest son, William, who was an active and enthusiastic participant in most of the filming for this project, and who can be seen in many of the images, whether or not he’s the center of attention.


Whether you find William or not, I hope you’ll enjoy the feminist piece he helped me create and that you feel free to share, remix, and reimagine the ideas and images presented here.


In Aotearoa New Zealand I think of Cushla Parekowhai's interview with Merata Mita
Kōrero Ki Taku Tuakana: Conversation With My Big Sister and the presence there of Merata's young son Hepi.

And here are Corinn and Sophie's other books, roughly in date order–










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