Women’s Film Preservation Fund Celebrates Women Filmmakers

As The First Female Director Wins Oscar,  the Women’s Film Preservation Fund Steps Up its Work Preserving the Cultural Legacy of Women In Film

Three upcoming programs in November showcase the extraordinary range and talent of women in the industry.


October 19, 2010 – The Women’s Film Preservation Fund, a division of New York Women in Film and Television, is the only project of its kind in the world working to preserve the cultural legacy of women in cinema by restoring and conserving their movies. This November, three programs in New York, of films preserved by WFPF, will showcase the wide-ranging talent almost lost to degrading celluloid.

Since its inception in 1996, the fund has provided grants to over 80 films both long and short form and of every genre, building a library of multi-genre narrative and documentaries. Films like the silent work of Alice Guy-Blaché and Barbara Kopple’s Academy Award-winning 1976 documentary HARLAN COUNTY USA have benefited from the restoration fund.

“Our goal is to increase the public’s knowledge of the innovative and pioneering contributions of women in cinema from the very inception of the form.” says co-chair Drake Stutesman “We see the importance of these films for audiences and scholars alike and are excited to share these rediscovered works in New York.”

The three programs will take place on November 1st, 7th and 21st at New York’s most prestigious cinema institutions. Showing November 1st at the Film Society of Lincoln Center is a fully restored print of WILL directed by the pioneering African American director Jessie Maple. Will (Obaka Adedunyo) is a former All-American basketball player trying to kick his drug habit. He and his wife take in and nurture a homeless boy called Little Brother. By practicing self-empowerment, mentoring the boy, and coaching a girl’s basketball team, Will is able to contain his addiction and regain his life. The first independent feature film to be directed by a black woman, WILL maintains a positive course while confronting struggle and tragedy. A New Yorker, Maples also pictures Harlem and its street life in the early eighties as part of a lively, complex neighborhood without the sensational violence or melodrama of contemporaneous Blaxploitation movies. WILL was a forerunner of the independent, minority filmmaking that would breed directors like Spike Lee and Lee Daniels. Following the screening Maple, who is now in her 80’s, will discuss her work and the changes in urban cinema. Tanya Hamilton, the writer/director whose most recent work is NIGHT CATCHES US, will join Maple on stage following the film.

On November 7th, in conjunction with Eighth Annual International Film Preservation Festival at MoMA, the Women’s Film Preservation Fund will present two unique programs of work: PRETTY WOMEN and BY HAND AND HEART. The nine feminist films presented in both programs focus on eroticism, class, crime, art and identity. Betty Tells Her Story, included in the Pretty Women program, became an iconic film in the documentary form. Dr. Stutesman will introduce both programs.

On November 21st at the Paley Center for Media, the Peabody and Emmy Award winning television film PLAYING FOR TIME will be screened in segments with special guests Vanessa Redgrave, Jane Alexander and producer Linda Yellen. The film, still considered a television landmark, tells the true story of Fania Fénelon and a group of women who attempted to escape death at Auschwitz by playing in an orchestra.

For more information please visit http://www.womensfilmpreservation.org

For screeners of select programs and press photos please contact:

Film First Co.

Jessica Edwards




Women’s Film Preservation Fund

Drake Stutesman




Monday, November 1st, 2010 at 6.30pm

Screening: WILL (1981), Director: Jessie Maple

Location: Film Society of Lincoln Center – Walter Reade Theater

Discussion with Jessie Maple and reception following the film.

A true pioneer, Jessie Maple was the first African American woman to enter New York’s IATSE union and the first to produce a feature-length independent film. She founded 20 West, Home of Black Cinema in Harlem in 1982 as a showplace for independent black films. Maple’s work, in the genre of urban cinema, is a precursor to films such as Lee Daniel’s Precious (2009). Writer/director Tanya Hamilton will join Jessie for a panel following the film moderated by WFPF co-chair Drake Stutesman.

Sunday, November 7th, 2010 – 1pm and 3pm

Screening: Save & Project Series at MoMA

Location: MoMA Theater 3 (The Celeste Bartos Theater).

Program 1: Pretty Women Program 2: By Hand and Heart are screening in conjunction with the Eighth Annual International Film Preservation Festival at the Museum of Modern Art.

Introduced by Drake Stutesman, Co-Chair, The Women’s Film Preservation Fund

Program 1: Pretty Women (56min)

Lipstick 74. (1974) USA. Directed by Jane Morrison. Super 8mm film made by the late documentarian Jane Morrison that offers a glimpse into the private world of women and their toilet. Preserved by Northeast Historic Films. 8 min.

Anything You Want to Be. (1971) USA. Directed by Liane Brandon. In a series of vignettes, a teen age girl finds that despite her parents’ assurance that she can “be anything she wants to be”, reality sometimes provides another outcome. Preserved by Liane Brandon. 8 min.

Betty Tells Her Story. (1972) USA. Directed by Liane Brandon. In two continuous takes, a woman sitting in a chair in her apartment tells a story about the purchase of a dress from dual perspectives. Preserved by Liane Brandon. 20 min.

All Women Are Equal. (1972) USA. Directed by Marguerite Paris. This documentary short explores the life of Paula, a male to female transsexual. This film is a nonexploitative representation of an ordinary, well-adjusted transgendered person and one made before many other films on the subject. Preserved by MIX: New York Lesbian and Gay Experimental Film Festival. 15 min.

Desire Pie. (1976) USA. Directed by Lisa Crafts. A deceptively erotic animation short celebrating the joyfulness of lovemaking, all to a funky jazz score. Preserved by Lisa Craft. 5 min.

Additional Information: http://www.moma.org/visit/calendar/film_screenings/10617

Program 2: By Hand and Heart (92min)

Quilting Women. (1976) USA. Directed by Elizabeth Barret. A joyful celebration of women artists who quilt, combining folk tradition, sorority and individual creativity to transform an ordinary household item into a thing of unique beauty. Preserved by Appalshop. 28 min.

Las Madres: The Mothers of Plaza de Mayo. (1985) Argentina. Directed by Lourdes Portillo, Susana Muñoz. This Academy Award nominated film tells the story of a group of mothers who have all lost a child during Argentina’s “Dirty War” in the 1970’s. These women come together each week in the Plaza de Mayo near the President’s house and demand to lean the fate of their children. Preserved by Lourdes Portillo. 64 min.

Additional Information : http://www.moma.org/visit/calendar/film_screenings/10618

Sunday, November 21st, 2010 at 3:00pm

Screening: Playing for Time (1980), Producer: Linda Yellen, Director: Daniel Mann

Location: Paley Center For Media

Clips from the film will be shown with a panel discussion with Producer Linda Yellen and actors Vanessa Redgrave and Jane Alexander.

Playing for Time, a ground-breaking television special starring Vanessa Redgrave and Jane Alexander, dramatizes the heart wrenching story of Fania Fénelon and a group of women who hoped to escape death in Auschwitz by playing in an orchestra . Written by Arthur Miller, the film won numerous awards including an Emmy and a Peabody and was one of the few television film to be screened at Cannes.

Additional Information: http://www.paleycenter.org/2010-fall-a-look-back-at-playingfor-time/



Thanks to Kia Muhammad at Film First Co. for this information and for permission to post it here on Her Film.