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London Women's Film Group

Film Collective

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Initiated in 1972, the London Women's Film Group came together through an advertisement placed by Midge McKenzie, who was inspired by a screening of women's liberation films at the London Film School. Following a number of skill-sharing workshops, the group eventually consisted of Esther Ronay, Susan Shapiro, Francine Winham, Fran MacLean, Barbara Evans, Linda Wood and Midge McKenzie. The members were by background sculptors, painters or photographers who were beginning to refocus their energies towards making film. Critical of the hierarchical and autocratic methods employed by conventional film crews, they worked collectively, in particular on The Amazing Equal Pay Show (1974), swapping roles of camera operator, lighting, sound etc. Their argument was that "a film should not be judged on its own merit regardless of the oppression that went into its making."

The group actively campaigned for equal opportunities within the ACTT. Members wrote articles collectively about their experiences, and at the Edinburgh Film Festival's week-long women's event, organised by Linda Myles in 1972, LWFG was offered the opportunity to film for BBC2's film night. The members seized the opportunity to show their all-female crew at work, while Laura Mulvey and Claire Johnston, joint organisers of the festival, spoke to camera about the purpose of the festival and introduced a selection of clips from the films.

The Group distributed its productions on the same basis on which it had formed - "we would like our films to be part of an ongoing process of discussion and action." The group would endeavour to have somebody present at screenings to facilitate these discussions. Productions included Miss/Mrs (1972), which explored differing images of women, Serve and Obey (1972), in which schoolgirls discuss the irrelevance of education, and Bettshanger Kent (1972), documenting a miner's wife active in organising women in a Kent mining village.

Emma Hedditch

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From the BFI's filmographic database

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