An interview with Courtney Stephens, the director of the film essay Terra Femme, about her work with archival films, female gaze and early amateur travelogues. The film has been screened as a part of documentary film festivals, including MoMA Doc Fortnight, IDFA and DokuFest Kosovo. The film is usually screened with a live commentary by the director herself and becomes a performative event, the way these amateur travelogues by female directors were presented almost a hundred years ago. The film has been recently acquired by Lightdox and Courtney will be partnering with them for world sales.
During the making of the film, you mentioned that you went through a huge amount of archival materials and that some of the women directors had been anonymized or archived under the names of their husbands. Why do you think that was?
One part is the limited number of early travel films made by women, which has to do with access to materials and the whole history of hobbyist pursuits; who was encouraged to do them, which is really this deeper historical question of women’s creative production and how it shows up. Then there’s the question of . . .
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