Whilst Daniella Shreir (French, 2011) was a Somerville student, she founded Another Gaze film society – an ongoing weekly Somerville film society that screens films of feminist and LGBTQ+ interest in the chapel. She is now turning Another Gaze into an online and print journal.
I graduated from Somerville last year, with a degree in French Literature & Language. During my time at Somerville, I founded ‘Another Gaze Society’: a club screening films of feminist and LGBTQ+ interest. I also edited The ISIS, which gave me a taste for curating a magazine and moulding 100-word pitches into engaging final pieces.
I met Dorothy, a documentary filmmaker and film student at Warwick, after a lecture on Video Art at Paris-Sorbonne, during our Year Abroad. We bonded over a love of cinema and an awareness of its distorted representation of women and other minorities. We wondered what could be done about this, and about our potential contribution. Should we only watch exclusively female-directed films? Could we watch Hitchcock, as long as it was with a critical eye? We promised that, after graduating, we would produce a publication – no matter how small or insignificant – to critique the status quo and celebrate often unacknowledged films by women.
In the film world, women have all too been rendered passive: both on-screen and off. Female actors are often cast in almost speechless roles, only to add a layer of sex appeal to a male-focused film. Meanwhile, women directors, although better equipped to portray female characters, and more invested in this project, often struggle with funding. The majority of those that succeed come from affluent families who can fund small films until they’re recognised by the industry. Unsurprisingly, women of colour, LGBTQ+ women, working class women and women with disabilities struggle the most. All these issues are inextricably linked in an industry that identifies success with box office takings.
Another Gaze journal was founded in January of this year. Feminist film criticism was once only available in academic journals, found on library shelves or, latterly, through paywalled websites. But, through social media, the internet has allowed these articles to enter into mainstream discussion. All of our submissions go online. But we also believe that a print publication is the best way to engage our audience and cut through the noise of online discourse. Accessibility is fundamental to Another Gaze: it would be wonderful to get our journal into general interest bookshops, not just those for academic specialists.
So far, we’ve had unsolicited submissions from award-winning filmmakers, including Penny Woolcock, academics and students from around the world. Our video interview with Martha Rosler, from our ongoing ‘In Conversation With’ series – filmed interviews with women filmmakers and others in the industry – was viewed by 100,000 in the first week. And other interviewees have included Sarah Gavron, Kim Longinotto, and Lizzie Borden. These will be made into a feature-length documentary.
Somerville’s crowdfunding platform has really empowered students and recent leavers to pursue their passions through creative and innovative projects. I’m currently utilising this tool to enable me to produce the first print edition. We are confident that, having established it as a publication, we will then be able to secure funding from an Arts body to develop the project. I know that there is a great demand for this platform, and I look forward to seeing how the campaign develops over the next two weeks.