Susan Charlton curated the ‘Feminism & Film’ retrospective program at this year’s Sydney Film Festival. In the 1980s Susan worked in the curation, distribution and promotion of cinema and moving-image art. She was a member of the Sydney Women’s Film Group, and from 1982-84 was employed as Women’s Filmworker at the Sydney Film Co-operative. From 2001-15 she was Creative Producer at State Archives and Records NSW, creating exhibitions in response to the archive collection. She sat down with Blythe Worthy and Megan Nash to discuss her work on the Film Festival program, as well as the filmmaking scene in Sydney in the 1970s and ‘80s.
Megan Nash (MN): How did you come to collaborate with Sydney Film Festival? Did someone from the festival approach you, or did you approach them with an idea?
Susan Charlton (SC): I’m fond of saying that it all started with a conversation in the tuna aisle of Potts Point Woolies, which is where I ran into a woman I knew from 20 years ago who was interested in film and always went to the film festival. She took it upon herself to just spread the word that I was around and I was doing projects – I was running amok. That led to a discussion with Tina Kaufman and Jenny Neighbour. Tina used to be the editor of the newspaper called Filmnews, which came out of the Sydney Filmmakers Co-op for over 20 years. She’s been involved with the festival for decades as a film lover and an advisor. Jenny Neighbour is the person who curates the documentaries and short films for the Festival. Jenny was interested in the renewed push by funding bodies like Screen Australia and Screen NSW to support women’s filmmaking, because very little has really changed since that era in the ‘70s and ‘80s when so much women’s filmmaking was taking place.
So I think they wanted to explore what had happened to that moment in history, and what had happened to those specific filmmakers who were connected to the Sydney Filmmakers Co-op, were part of the Sydney Women’s Film Group and/or the Feminist Filmworkers. They thought of me in part because I used to be the Women’s Filmworker at the Co-op from January 1982 to August 1984. That role was to look after all the films that were made by women, and to work closely with the women filmmakers – helping them with the launch of their films, their distribution, their screenings, the promotion and everything that goes with it. So I knew that era, and in fact it was those filmmakers that drew me from Adelaide to Sydney. I came specifically to be around that – I don’t think we called it a scene then – but around that women’s filmmaking in Sydney.
MN: When you lived in Adelaide, did you have much to do with the filmmaking scene in that city? Weren’t Gillian Armstrong and Peter Weir working there around that time?
SC: I didn’t encounter them, but the films they and others made with the South Australian Film Corporation had a big role in setting the scene for Australian filmmaking. It was a really amazing time because the Premier was Don Dunstan. Most states had had some form of Liberal government for 20 or 25 years. I had grown up in South Australia under a Liberal/Country government, as had the people of New South Wales and Victoria. The whole country was run for decades by the Liberals and all of a sudden there was this turnover.
Don Dunstan was the first cab off the rank. He came into power just before the ‘70s and the Whitlam years. He really led the way in a whole range of changes and reforms, and was very arts oriented. People moved to South Australia to be part of the arts. We had the Festival of Arts, which was really a big deal at that time – it was before every big city or state had its own. And it was significant, highly regarded, international, and experimental.
I actually took part in a women’s filmmaking program that was funded through Gough Whitlam as part of International Women’s Year in 1975. It was held at the South Australian Media Resource Centre and run in conjunction with the South Australian Film Corporation I think. I knew right then and there I didn’t want to be a filmmaker. I was in love with films and the idea of filmmaking, but I just didn’t like the structure of a film set, it wasn’t a space that I liked being in. But I was still drawn to filmmaking through the pages of Filmnews and through filmmaker visits and screenings at the Media Resource Centre.
Blythe Worthy (BW): So when you were at the Sydney Women’s Film Group, you were more of a mediator for people who were creating art?
SC: Yes, but I was still transfixed by the possibilities of filmmaking. When I moved to Sydney I started going to the Sydney Women’s Film Group. It used to have meetings I think monthly and it would do different things like host screenings and present talks. That’s how I got involved and I guess that’s how I got known and was able to get the job.
MN: The Sydney Women Film Group, was that the one that had the house in Redfern?1
SC: There was the Sydney Women’s Film Group and the Feminist Film Workers that grew out of that, and many of them were associated with that house ‘Lorraine’, where Margot Nash and Carolyn Strachan lived. The Feminist Film Workers were filmmakers who wanted something more focused and more consciously feminist as opposed to just women’s filmmaking.
BW: I’m really interested in the differences between women’s film and feminist film, and how there’s this need for definition for a lot of people. Is it a distinction that you consider particularly important? Or do you think that the two can and should be more interchangeable?
SC: It’s really important, but by the time I became Women’s Filmworker in 1982, I and others were already questioning these categories, and I actually used my role to question them – you know, “What is women’s film? What constitutes women’s film?” This is something Helen Grace and I were talking about, laughing about – it’s typical that women would interrogate themselves, we’d dismantle ourselves as categories of significance, interrogate ourselves out of existence. We would do that, but the men wouldn’t do that.
What was interesting for me doing this project was that I was asked to look at films from the ‘70s and ‘80s and saw how they really were quite distinct periods. I feel like the ‘70s were the beginnings, where the various issues were laid out; the ‘80s were more a period of confidence that encouraged more complex works. In the ‘70s people were upskilling, they were learning everything they could in order to make films, and they were beginning to make, not necessarily their first films, but their first films as ‘women filmmakers’. One of the films in the first retrospective program [the Personal & Political strand] was called A Film for Discussion. That notion of ‘film for discussion’ was extremely important, especially in the ‘70s. You made films for discussion.
BW: Right. So it was like a political statement.
SC: Generally speaking the later films for discussion were issue-based documentaries, whereas this is a really interesting documentary-drama. A Film for Discussion began as a collective filmmaking process and there was a commitment to collectivity throughout. At the same time it’s being acknowledged more now that some roles became quite distinct. You could say that Martha Ansara was the director, Jeni Thornley is acting in the film and can be seen as the author of her performance through the improvisational work that took place. And there were other actors and activists involved, including men on the crew. So though it’s usually described as a Sydney Women’s Film Group film, for this retrospective we referred to it as ‘including Martha Ansara and Jeni Thornley’. And the wording of that is important and will no doubt evolve again.
BW: Similar to how it is used in the ‘Culture & Collaboration’ program.
SC: Yes, the wording of that was extremely important as well. It was important for people to know that Essie Coffey directed that film and she absolutely made it happen, allowed it to happen, wanted it to happen, and wanted to use that film. Martha had a specific role: she was one of the co-producers with Essie and filmmaker Alec Morgan, but she was the cinematographer as well. And that’s being said a bit more.
BW: Collective approaches to art making seem to have been such a foundation for feminists. It’s so often a method of approach across women’s movements – a collective approach is generally the first to make works that then go on to define that collective. It seems like much less of an individualistic approach to art making, compared to male-dominated processes.
SC: Challenging the point of view, the authorship, and even ‘the patriarchy’. Just reinventing everything and asking, how would you do it differently if you were a group of women? And a group can create amazing ideas. And I’m still very much like this – if you believe in the process and you go with the process it can have some incredible results that I would not get alone, by myself in a room.
MN: And maybe women are just more willing to be upfront about the fact that film has always been a collaborative medium. Maybe these women didn’t see the need to have this god-like auteur figure, and they recognised that we’ve all done this together.
BW: Yeah I think it’s quite a gendered concept. Most feminist political movements will start with some kind of grassroots collective; that solidarity and sisterhood idea seems a distinctly gendered idea.
SC: But I would also like to talk to the filmmakers more about this now, because maybe the collectivity was more complicated than has been said. One of the questions I became interested in was what’s the difference between collectivity and collaboration? Is it about intention and naming, or practice? I don’t know.
BW: Yes, it’s interesting retrospectively to say, well it was a collective, but these are the two people who really shared the labour. I think it’s something I really noticed on the program.
SC: These ways of speaking about the work of filmmaking evolved as the filmmakers and I talked. I suppose these filmmakers felt part of the community in different ways. I mean, there’s a really interesting bag of filmmakers there. They’re quite different. And they wouldn’t necessarily describe themselves in the same ways, then or now. I think they come out of particular sorts of settings and communities. The earlier ones were connected to the women’s movement, connected to community. That includes someone like Helen Grace, but she also comes out of an art and academic/intellectual context, as does Laleen Jayamanne. I chose what I think are the most interesting works that represent those different strands of thought and filmmaking practice. I mean there’s lots and lots of straightforward documentaries to choose from, so many films that were made about ‘women and …’ It’s very much of the time that films were made about women and their bodies, women and jobs, women and education, women and health, women and work, women and… women and… women and…It was almost exhausted as a thing.
MN: Serious Undertakings was really great because it starts from that ‘woman and…’ premise – it’s a film about women and childcare – but just goes somewhere completely different. It wasn’t what I expected. I was really happily surprised.
BW: Yes I hadn’t expected the kind of mockumentary approach it takes.
SC: Interesting that you should use the term ‘mockumentary’. It wasn’t a term used when it was made, and I’ve never heard anyone call it that. There were some films that just had to come in, and Serious Undertakings was one of them.
MN: So it sounds like you had to make some tough decisions about what to screen?
SC: The name of the program was quite hard to come to as well – I didn’t want to call these women feminist filmmakers, because not all of them would call themselves feminists or feminist filmmakers. Though they all sit along a feminism spectrum. I came up with about 20 different title options and the festival chose ‘Feminism & Film’, which was probably the least exciting. I liked ‘Suffragette City’, because they were keen for Sydney to be a part of the story. Which is interesting too because, for example, Margot Nash. She’s originally from New Zealand, but she and Robin Laurie made their film We Aim to Please in Melbourne. So it’s not a Sydney film as such. But by the time I came to Sydney in 1980, Margot was already here, and the film was part of Sydney life. Margot talks about being drawn to women’s filmmaking in Sydney like it was a flame. And Margaret Dodd was from Adelaide, and I knew her from Adelaide, and she shot the film in Adelaide, but she brought the film to Sydney and she edited it in Sydney, and it was distributed by the Filmmakers Co-op. When I was asked to curate three programs, I very quickly came up with the three thematic strands. And the films in the final program are very close to how I first imagined them. I’m not sure whether I want to talk about what I didn’t show…
BW: The honourable mentions…
SC: Well, I did look at the works of Gill Armstrong, Jane Campion and Jan Chapman. I had a fourth strand in mind, which included them, because their early short films were held in the Sydney Filmmakers Co-op. And there are a lot of similarities. There’s a film by Gill Armstrong called The Roof Needs Mowing, and then Jane Campion’s film A Girl’s Own Story. Like Film for Discussion and This Woman is not a Car, they all involve a family. The man rules the roost a bit or he’s an absent king. The woman is resigned to her lot or going mad; in The Roof Needs Mowing she kind of gets caught up in the clothesline. And the boy, the son, is a prince. And the girl is like “What the fuck?” So these are the themes, and these are they stories of these women. But I would have had to make a case for a fourth strand, and in the end I’m glad I didn’t because all the attention would’ve gone to those filmmakers. In a way, we wanted to look at those people that didn’t become Gill Armstrong or Jane Campion.
BW: It is really frustrating how the conversation always revolves around the same tiny group of women filmmakers. It’s always so contained. It’s interesting to hear that you decided not to include them in the end.
SC: If someone asked me, how come you’re not showing Jane Campion’s films? I was going to reiterate what I wrote in the program, that the films I chose were by the women that made the films for discussion, who had the serious undertakings, and who worked for love, but not always money. That’s one way of describing them. But if pushed I would say they came out of a community, whereas maybe the other women were more engaged in the industry. In the end I’m really happy how it turned out. The proper idea, the important idea rose up. These films and filmmakers are connected. Their films make sense together.
I will say I was originally hoping to include Tracey Moffatt’s short films Nice Coloured Girls and Night Cries from the late ’80s. Tracey was first connected to the Filmmakers Co-op through the Black Film Unit and Madeline McGrady, who was the Black Film Worker at the Co-op. But in the end, Tracey didn’t actually want her films included, in part because she was involved in Venice – representing Australia at the Venice Biennale. She just wanted to concentrate on that and wanted everyone else’s concentration on that too. I was thinking of placing one of the films in the ‘Disruption and Deconstruction’ program, and then another in what ultimately became the ‘Culture and Collaboration’ session.
But I think that it worked well in the end. My Survival as an Aboriginal and Two Laws go together really well – ‘Culture & Collaboration’. Non-indigenous feminist filmmakers, who worked with Aboriginal filmmakers and communities. I think that was a good thing to look at. And it’s before Aboriginal producers really took off. As someone said, you’re not sure whether those films would or could be made now, but they were a really important part of our history.
BW: Definitely. I think it really deftly handles something that is quite a contentious issue in feminist film studies still today: the idea of representation. People making films about their own communities, and fighting back against the white filmmaker coming in and making a film about a community they don’t have a nuanced understanding of.
SC: Well the way Martha Ansara talks about working with Essie Coffey is certainly different to the way she talks about her own films and even Film for Discussion. When she talks about Essie, it’s with great deference and the deepest, deepest respect. Martha would never have been able to film in those communities in the same way without Essie’s invitation. It was so beautiful to have Essie’s daughter Ruby Dykes at the screening to speak. I never met Essie, but she used to ring up sometimes at the Co-op because we distributed My Survival as an Aboriginal. There was so much respect for her, and you could not not show that film.
BW: I think you could feel it in the screening. I was falling in love with her – she’s so incredible. It seems like matriarchal Indigenous women are not an uncommon thing in Indigenous communities. Women who are really the ones championing their culture, and insisting on it being taught in schools.
SC: And that comes out in Two Laws too, doesn’t it? There are really strong women telling the story in the two episodes of Two Laws we screened, and throughout the whole film. So in lots of ways, they are women’s films too. I’m pretty sure Essie Coffey would not have called herself a feminist, and the women at Borroloola wouldn’t have either, but they’re all part of this period, and women working together in different ways. That evolves over time – how people see themselves, and describe themselves, and what they think they’re doing.
Did you see the opening night film, We Don’t Need a Map, by Warwick Thornton? Because there are very few women in that. One of the only women is Romaine Moreton. She writes about Two Laws and My Survival on the Australian Screen Online site. It’s a great site. They select curators to write about each film and select three clips. Filmmaker Pat Fiske writes about Film For Discussion and Susan Lambert talks about This Woman is Not a Car and Serious Undertakings. Most of the films we screened, except for Behind Closed Doors and A Song of Ceylon, get that curatorial treatment on Australian Screen Online. I would like to see them get that treatment too. I’d even like to write them!
BW: Was there much collaboration between film collectives during the 1980s? Were there others you saw you might have included?
SC: Well, another group of women filmmakers who came to mind when planning the program were those in the Sydney Super-8 Film Group. I was working at the Co-op in St Peters Lane, Darlinghurst, but just a block away was the Super-8 group. And it was different, you know, it was coming out of the universities and art schools, it was influenced by French and cultural theory, and it didn’t see itself as being political. It was a bit antagonistic towards the Co-op, and the Co-op didn’t really understand it. They tried to get the Co-op to distribute their films, but they sort of said, “we’re not touching Super 8.” I wanted to include work by a fantastic filmmaker called Catherine Lowing. Her films were really startling. One in particular I wanted to include called Knife in the Head, Spooky was about the Sydney lesbian S&M scene. It was part of a trilogy – another film was about rockabilly girls who lived in the warehouses in Pitt Street, and were dancing up on the roofs. She had another called Shooting Day for Night – referencing Truffaut. Catherine was a star. Why don’t we hear about Catherine? And some of the other women like we hear about Andrew Frost, Rowan Woods, Nick Meyers, Sean O’Brien? Anyway, I tried for quite a long time to get Catherine’s film in, but the Festival couldn’t show Super 8, and there were issues around sourcing a digital copy.
And in the end, including Catherine’s films would have been forcing the category. Because she was actually quite separate from the community of women filmmakers whose work we screened; there wasn’t that much dialogue between the women connected to the Co-op and those from the Super-8 Film Group. And it ended up that all the films that were screened in the program were distributed by the Sydney Filmmakers Co-op. So there was that connection. But I’d like to see her films screened, especially outside of a super-8 context. And they deserve to be restored and included in film collections.
One of the great outcomes of this program is that some of the films are being restored. The National Film & Sound Archive wanted to restore several of the films for the screenings, but they just didn’t have time because it’s a really huge process. For example, it took eight weeks to digitally restore My Survival as an Aboriginal. It’s a 16mm film but they digitally restored it. They have started to do this with For Love or Money, but that was going to be something like a six-month project, because they literally clean individual frames.The 16 mm copy of This Woman is Not a Car we screened was actually from the collection of the Art Gallery of NSW and they have recently made a digital copy as part of their digital archiving program.
MN: What kind of distribution are you talking about? Was it sharing with other film groups, or did people pay to show them in mainstream cinemas?
SC: You could be a member of the Co-op if you had a film in the collection. They didn’t buy the film, they just held it. And they rented the films out or screened them, took a percentage of the earnings and sent you the rest. So the women’s films, particularly the issue-based films, they just went everywhere. To begin with at the Co-op the people were all filmmakers, and they just wanted to work on and distribute their own films. I don’t know its early history all that well, but I understand it was started by people like Phil Noyce and his partner at the time, Jan Chapman. It pretty much started in Phil Noyce’s lounge room. And he came from an experimental films background – like Ubu Films. They started the Filmmakers Co-op to distribute their own films, and then they made connections internationally with other likeminded filmmakers. Gradually women filmmakers started to get involved and there was a take-over of sorts, which I wasn’t part of – it was before I got there. I don’t know if that was the intention, I just think some of those early filmmakers thought it was being politicised, and it was being run by feminists, and it was becoming something else that they didn’t want, so they disengaged. But I don’t know that story particularly well. Then people like me came in and we called ourselves ‘filmworkers’. So the Co-op flipped from being a collective of filmmakers to a collective of filmworkers, working on behalf of filmmakers. And that’s quite a significant change.
I mean the filmmakers were really great at reaching their audience. They knew their audience, they made the films for them. They were part of that. And they knew how to get those films to those people. Like Susan Lambert said in the post-film discussion, it was like an early form of crowdfunding. She and Sarah Gibson did a rough cut of Behind Closed Doors and screened it at women’s centres and places like that, and people threw money in for it to be finished. So the films came out of this community and they were for this community, and people used to hire them or buy them – schools, universities, health centres, women’s refuges, hospitals. It was quite a successful business.
MN: So, was Behind Closed Doors an example of a film that spread quite widely?
SC: I’m not 100% sure of its distribution, but I see that film as a tipping point for them. Susan Lambert and Sarah Gibson made a number of issue-based documentaries before it, which were much more straightforward. They were about age, body-image, creativity, women’s rooms, domestic spaces, generally interviewing a number of women. So Behind Closed Doors really stood out with its experimental use of image and sound. Women in refuges could use it, women affected by domestic violence. But they weren’t being eroticised as victims. It was different. It had voices rather than the pictures of women. So it was quite effective in a different way. They went on to make some interesting experimental feature films: something called On Guard, which was a women’s heist movie, and Landslides, which was a poetic essay film about the body in its broadest sense.
MN: Did you have a premises or an office? When you say you did screenings, did you have a cinema you were attached to?
SC: There was an office in St Peters Lane in Darlinghurst. It was two storeys, and it had a cinema. By the time I started working at the Co-op in 1982 the cinema had closed – it wasn’t screening regularly. It functioned and was used for various things but it didn’t have a regular program. When I first moved to Sydney I would go to screenings, and one of the big events of the year would be International Women’s Day, and its film program. And I became in charge of that when I was Women’s Filmworker – I’ve got all of the old fliers and leaflets for all the programs.
BW: Yes, one of the things I loved about the ‘Feminism & Film’ program was the curated screening of a number of films together in a single sitting. It reminded me of that early era of filmmaking, when people were trying to make as many statements as possible, and as many interpretations as possible.
SC: Quite a few people in that era used to make 40-minute films, and they would be put together and they made a program. You don’t see that anymore. When Laleen’s film A Song of Ceylon came out, it was going to be screened at the Chauvel cinema where I was working freelance at the time, and I asked her, how she wanted to screen it. Because it’s a 50-minute film. She said she’d like to screen it with a number of films that were influential, and spoke to her film. And so we developed a program. Laleen’s film was in response to a British film called Song of Ceylon, and that was on the program. It was also screened with a David Cronenberg film called The Brood, as well as the incredible film The Night Porter, by a woman called Liliana Cavani. So it’s that idea of putting your film with other films that either influence you or are speaking about the same ideas.
One concern with the combination film festival programs was that they were long. Every one of them was long, and I admire my audience. But as someone said to me, it’s a film festival, people have got a bit of stamina. Though I don’t think it’s still the same. In the days when I worked at the Co-op, the film festival used to last for weeks, and you couldn’t just pick and choose. You either bought a full ticket or a one-week ticket. People would take their annual holidays, and you would just go from morning ‘til night. And it was different because you couldn’t see those things anywhere else. They weren’t on HBO, and they weren’t showing at the cinemas very much.
MN: They weren’t airing on Netflix a week later like Okja.
BW: Sundance even has its own channel now. They do end to end screenings of entire miniseries – so that’s seven hours sometimes – in a day.
SC: Yeah, so people are binging, but they tend not to be binging so much at the film festival. It’s unsustainable. It all used to be at the State Theatre – that’s a big venue to fill. There was a period when David Stratton was the director. He invited a woman called Glenys Rowe, who was a film distributor and a programmer and producer, to curate an experimental, political strand at six o’clock. It was a really hot ticket – you’d just catch a cab there at six o’clock every night and there would be something mind blowing on. So the festival was different. Now you don’t have to have your ‘cinephile ticket’, you can just go to one thing, you might just want some entertainment. So perhaps I shouldn’t have expected people to have that sort of cinephilia.
I guess I have moved away from cinema a bit myself – you know cinema was my love. While I didn’t want to make films, I loved it. And I just consumed film – thought about it, wrote about it. I realise now that I’ve become a little bit disengaged and I’ve lost some bearings. Like I don’t know what’s been happening. And I suppose as the internet has become such a powerful space to lose yourself in, and mainstream cinema has become less and less interesting… I’ve lost track of what’s on. I don’t go anymore in the way that I used to. I need to lift my game!
MN: Because of this direction SFF is taking towards entertainment – as you put it – I think some people really appreciate the kind of programing they saw in ‘Feminism & Film’. I know the guys here at 4:3 were really excited about something a little more exploratory. Because of late, the retrospectives have been structured around well-established, master directors: last year Scorsese, this year Kurosawa. They’re obviously great directors, but for people who do have – as you call it – their ‘cinephile ticket’, they’re very familiar.
SC: Those retrospectives used to be fantastic. There’d always be some authority, who’d written the book on them coming out from England or America, and they’d introduce the films. That was what Sydney was like in the ‘80s. In the late ‘80s a guy called Tait Brady took over the [Palace] Chauvel cinema, he really knew how to run a cinema. And he got film writer and academic John Conomos to program a cinematheque strand. And I got hired to promote the Japanese new wave cinema program, and there was the Mandarin cinema down in Chinatown… That notion of the scene was a really big deal.
MN: To us it just sounded like such an amazing time – I think the program referred to it as ‘the heady days’ of the women’s movement. Do you think there is anything comparable going on today?
SC: When I first got asked to do this, I thought it was a great professional opportunity and something interesting to do. I began to think about it as a really interesting way of looking back over my life. How my life has evolved. And then Trump got elected. I got asked to do this at the end of October. He got elected in November, inaugurated in January, and suddenly three million women are marching…
BW: You mentioned at one of the sessions that you think there is a wave happening. I’m curious because a lot of people would debate that.
SC: Well the fact that I’m talking to you right now, to me is an indication that there’s something going on. Margot Nash is a lecturer at UTS, and she can see young women coming through. They weren’t always there; it’s something fairly new. And at the same time that I was being asked to organise the Film Festival program, I become aware that there was something on at the Art Gallery of NSW. A young Australian artist, Alex Martinis Roe has done a project where she interviewed Margot Nash about her film Shadow Panic, Helen Grace about Serious Undertakings, and Pat Fiske about Rocking the Foundations, which also screened separately at SFF. So Alex is interested in genealogies of feminism, and the connection between feminism and philosophy. There’s a number of Australian women philosophers who are now internationally highly regarded like Liz Grosz. Liz was a lecturer at Sydney Uni, but she had open classes. People like Margot – but also Susan Lambert and Sarah Gibson who made Behind Closed Doors – they used to go and sit in on the classes. And Liz was teaching about Irigaray and the works. Alex’s series could be seen as a coincidence, but it’s not – all of these little pockets of things lead me to feel that something is going on.
BW: Well there are some really frustrating gaps in feminist history that no one talks about. There was so much push-back after the ‘70s, because it was really threatening. After 9/11 there was another gap in feminist histories for years. I think a lot of us are interested in unpacking why there are gaps like that.
SC: Look at the marches, for example, that didn’t happen overnight. None of these things happen overnight. They were a prolonged movement. But historical moments can arise, and if you’ve done the preparatory work then communities can rise and leadership can rise and action can be taken. You can see when you look at Two Laws and My Survival as an Aboriginal – there was intersectionality there – it wasn’t called that then but it’s so important to fight for that.
MN: This really exciting scene seemed to hold so much promise, do you feel disheartened that cinema remains such a male dominated art form and industry?
SC: I feel like I need a little bit of distance to see what happened. Looking out into the audience at the screenings, it was really a women’s thing. And that’s a good thing, but it also needs to be examined.
BW: I think to make sure this kind of thing happens, we need to keep talking about this stuff.
SC: Before I was asked to do this, if I ever looked back on the ‘70s and ‘80s I thought “that was a really great time, but it’s in the past, and I’m not nostalgic about it, and I don’t need to relive it, though it still influences me today”. I had thought it was the only game in town and it would last forever, but now it’s over. Now I think, ‘that was great, that was really an amazing moment in history, not only personally but historically, and I had a part in it, how lucky am I.’ And it’s not over. It’s speaking to the present.