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It Takes a Million Years to be a Woman

As part of the 2017 Arts and Humanities Festival, under the theme of ‘World Service’, the Department of French held the screening of three short films. Although stylistically and contextually varied, the films explored the sense of togetherness in feminist societies.

Vivian Ostrovsky’s 1984 ‘Aller-Venues’ was shown first at the event; a vibrant, lighthearted documentation of a group of women’s summer exploits in the French countryside, interacting with various animals. An explosion of colour in the summertime, accompanied by playful music, this film was a cheerful reminder of female companionship, and perfectly placed for an event surrounding feminist societies.

Following on from the showing of the first film, the second feature, ‘It Takes a Million Years to be a Woman’ explored the Kate Millett Farm – a sanctuary established for female artists which operated until 2012. Created in 2011, the experimental installation by Swedish collective ‘Sisters of Jam’ was interesting and innovative. The depiction of Kate Millett, a prominent academic of Second Wave Feminism, who recently passed away, was a rather unsettling one. The documentary depicts Millett as under financial strain and a sense of intellectual squalor, rejected by the academic world, by the movement she helped established but also the newest generation of feminists. Her portrayal reminds us that figures as controversial and trailblazing as her ultimately suffer to be integrated into the mainstream.

To round off the event, the 2014 ‘National Unity of Women’ docu-film by Dr. Azadeh Fatehrad was shown, apt as she sat on the panel during the event. The documentary focused on the emergence of feminist communities during and after the Iranian Revolution of 1979, and the efforts of Shahin Nawai in redefining the role of women in Iranian society. This documentary shed light in a perhaps unknown to many aspect of the Iranian revolution, and showed the overlap of social justice for women with religion under the threat of political oppression.

After the showings, an exciting Q&A took place, which included a wide range of esteemed panel members, including Dr. Azadeh Fatehrad from the Royal College of Art, Dr. Amy Tobin from Cambridge University, and the College’s Dr. Ros Murray. The discussion of feminist identities and communities was both engaging and intriguing, illuminating various arguments surrounding feminist issues and attempting to chart a path for the future.


Photo Credit: KCL


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