Women in the Arts
4. WORKS BY WOMEN:e) Film and Video
i) Film: The majority of films on view in any given period are obviously those shown within the commercial cinema or on television. In addition there are on Merseyside some dozen film societies, of which only one receives any subsidy, plus some exhibition of films within arts centres, etc. The question of alternative distribution networks in terms of issue based work and the representation of alternative views and voices seems to have scarcely been tackled on Merseyside.
There were 84 films shown within the subsidised sector, during the period, of which one was directed by a woman. Of the 84 films 10 (12%) were made in a non-European/non- American context and the one film by a woman was made a Chinese director.
ii) Video: Although, on Merseyside, people have tackled the question of access to video equipment and expertise for various groups and communities within society they have not, in the same way, tackled the question of distribution.
All the videos on public exhibition within the subsidised sector within this period were shown during Video Positive 89. These showings included time devoted specifically to issue based areas including the showing of feminist works, and were supplemented by workshops in community settings.
Of the works shown 28 (36%) were by women, 44 (56%) were by men and 6 (8%) were collaborations. Of the 28 works at least 3 (that is 10% of works by women) were by black women. I do not know if any of the video makers were disabled.
iii) Summary: Within the commercial world of film-making and television, as national research has shown, women are under-represented. The Association of Cinematograph Television and Allied Technicians, for instance, records that only 26.6% of its members are women. It would therefore seem appropriate that within the subsidised sector efforts are made to redress that imbalance. And to some degree such an effort has been made - WITCH (Women's Independent Cinema House) an all women co-operative which proÂduced and distributed its own work as well as screening programmes of works by women - has been one of the very few funded organisations on Merseyside specifically focusing on women. However WITCH has recently had funding troubles and at the time of writing 3 of its 5 workers are to be made redundant in March and the 2 workers in Black WITCH are in negotiations for future funding.
In terms of women this is certainly not a positive move because what is needed, as can be seen from this report, are more groups promoting the interests of women, not less and a greater variety within those groups (that is groups focusing on black women, on disabled women, on elderly women etc.).