Skip to main content
BFI logo











Screenonline banner
Women's Film and Video Collectives

Feminist filmmakers get organised

Main image of Women's Film and Video Collectives

In the 1970s and '80s, feminist film practice was foregrounded with the emergence of groups like the London Women's Film Group as the 'putting into action' of feminist film theory and attitude. Meanwhile, a new regionalism challenged the metropolitanised and patriarchal institutions of British culture. Groups developed in Cardiff, Leeds, Sheffield, London and across the country.

The desire to work collectively on films about the lives of women, and in particular working-class women, was facilitated by existing community organisations and a shared engagement with feminist politics. Such groups engaged in the politics of representation and social organisation and committed themselves to an integrated practice of production, exhibition and distribution, and to a collective or co-operative approach.

In the Workshop Declaration of 1982, the trade union ACTT (now BECTU) agreed to approve properly funded and staffed non-commercial and grant-aided film and tape work if made by a 'workshop', defined as a non-profit organisation of at least four members, with equal participation in control of the undertakings. This created the conditions for the funding of workshops like the Sheffield Film Co-op and Video Vera, recognising the social and political contribution of their work as an alternative to mainstream and commercial products.

With their own distribution apparatus and access to national television - particularly with the arrival of Channel 4 in 1983 - such groups possessed a guerrilla mobility through all points in a media system that, while ultimately dominated by state and corporate broadcasting, was nevertheless multiple, diffuse, and capable of many different organisational forms.

Emma Hedditch

Related Films and TV programmes

Thumbnail image of Did I Say Hairdressing? I Meant Astrophysics (1998)Did I Say Hairdressing? I Meant Astrophysics (1998)

Witty educational animation about gender stereotyping of children

Thumbnail image of Mam (1988)Mam (1988)

Documentary examining the archetype of the Welsh 'mam'

Thumbnail image of Question of Choice, A (1982)Question of Choice, A (1982)

Documentary about women juggling low-paid work and other commitments

Thumbnail image of Red Skirts on Clydeside (1984)Red Skirts on Clydeside (1984)

Documentary exploring women's role in the 1915 Glasgow Rent Strike

Thumbnail image of Special Delivery (1991)Special Delivery (1991)

Feminist critique of medical approaches to childbirth

Related Collections

Thumbnail image of Women and FilmWomen and Film

Women on both sides of the camera

Related People and Organisations

Thumbnail image of Leeds Animation Workshop (1976-)Leeds Animation Workshop (1976-)

Film Collective

Thumbnail image of London Women's Film GroupLondon Women's Film Group

Film Collective

Thumbnail image of Red Flannel FilmsRed Flannel Films

Film Collective