Tuesday, December 1, 2015 at 7:30pm
JoAnn Elam's Rape + Jennifer Montgomery's Home Avenue
155 Freeman Street, Brooklyn
Tonight, Light Industry will present a screening of two rarely-seen works by women about sexual violence—JoAnn Elam’s Rape and Jennifer Montgomery’s Home Avenue—along with a talk by Johanna Fateman.
As an experiment in film exhibition and viewership, and in an effort to facilitate the post-screening conversation, the event will be open to women, trans, and gender non-conforming audience members only, a policy that will extend to the venue’s staff as well. The program will be overseen by longtime Light Industry associate Carolyn Lazard, with Moira Tierney as projectionist.
“Do our efforts to overturn ‘rape culture’ end with sensitivity training for cops and frats? I don’t think they should even start there. Perhaps we should start with the lavish funding and widespread promotion of rape-survivor artists who desire to confront the representational challenges posed by this urgent subject matter. What if, for a period of some years, we only watched films by people who’d been raped; if those were the only films made; if the money and resources, the screenings, workshops, festivals, CGI animation teams and award ceremonies were reserved for directors who had experienced rape. Rape is terribly common, and if affects many different kinds of people, so I think this could usher in an era of wild innovation and true diversity in filmmaking.
In the early 70s, people began to speak publicly and frankly about rape, and to understand it as a form of patriarchal gender terrorism and sexist control. Rape, by JoAnn Elam, is an experimental film depicting a white feminist consciousness-raising group from the dawn of rape activism as we know it. Home Avenue by Jennifer Montgomery is a very personal film, a cinematic reconstruction of her rape. In a short lecture accompanying these two films, I will talk about how the discourse around rape and feminist filmmaking changed from 1975 to 1989 and from 1989 to today. By staging this event, we will critically revisit a strategy of the second wave represented by Elam: the creation of a ‘separate’ space. Is there any political utility in this exclusivity today? Let’s consider this in conjunction with these two films and have a discussion about rape, anti-rape culture, and the kinds of films we want to make and see now.” - Johanna Fateman
JoAnn Elam, 1975, 16mm, 35 mins
“JoAnn Elam's Rape is one of the most important fusions of the experimental filmmaking tradition and the current wave of self-consciously political films. It is an explicitly feminist documentary film which uses experimental techniques. In its content or signified, it provides an angry ‘speak-out’ of women's rape experiences and a militant analysis of the myths and facts about rape in the United States. Elam has articulated many new film strategies to achieve such a task so that this film avoids—indeed, by contrast, comments on—the usual exploitive treatment of rape in cinema. Rape rejects voyeurism and pathos. It rejects showing women as powerless. Its protagonists are real-life rape victims who are not filmed crying, but angry and in control. To counteract the usual cinematic depiction of rape as the ultimate form of possession, Elam's film functions as rape victims' public speak-out. The women dare to speak the unspeakable, to restore to themselves their own identity, and to attack those cultural and economic institutions which make rape likely and those legal institutions which oppress the victim. The structure of the film is that of one evening's conversation in which women who had been raped speak with the filmmaker. Their conversation is presented in the film in video transfer, and is combined with filmed inserts shown while the conversation continues in voice-off.” - Julia Lesage
Jennifer Montgomery, 1989, Super-8, 17 mins
“As Jennifer Montgomery's super-8mm film Home Avenue begins, we see her drawing a map to illustrate the location where she was raped several years earlier. She later gives a tour of the spot, detailing her memory of the rape and the incidents that led up to it. She talks of her mother's disbelief of her version of events, and of her own uncertainty as to whether she was raped with a penis or a gun...She re-traverses the route she took the night she was raped, recounting anecdotal details regarding her confusedly emerging sexuality, traveling a literal and psychological route. Approaching the past through recounting is fundamental to oral histories and family legacies, as well as to psychoanalysis. In the talking cure, one doesn't necessarily relate an event as it occurred, but rather it surfaces in language which compresses, transforms or displaces the original event. When she reaches the house where the rape occurred, the film footage is hand-processed. The image is unstable; it is difficult to discern details through the mark left by the hand processing. The image, usually so reliably of the world, is here hesitant, personal; it cannot be categorized as an objective record, but rather one that has the mark of a maker who in touching the filmstrip, grasps at the elusive event.” - Kathy Geritz
The screening and lecture will be followed by a conversation with the audience, the organizers, and Jennifer Montgomery.
Tickets - $8, available at door.
Please note: seating is limited. First-come, first-served. Box office opens at 7pm.