Isra: I’m really inspired by the work that Invisible Women do and their expertise and experience with archive films. It’s something T A P E has dabbled with but it’s not our expertise at all, and that is another element of what we are trying to do: demystifying the archive because it should be more widely accessible and more accessed. The idea was to come together with what Invisible Women know really well and T A P E’s work with a lot of emerging filmmakers.
In terms of choosing, there were a few films that were on my radar that I didn’t know when I would be able to use it. There is a film, Fuck You, by Anette Sidor which I thought was really great, but we couldn’t put it online as free access because of the mature content, and we couldn’t really incorporate it into our previous programmes, and so it just felt perfect.
Camilla, Invisible Women: As Isra very kindly said, we have a lot of expertise working with archives, but a lot of the time we find things but have the same problem of not knowing where to fit it in, or maybe the money isn’t there to screen it, or it isn’t accessible. So, working on a bigger project with a bigger budget allows us to bring back some of the ‘darlings’ that we have seen in the past. We have screened one of the films in the programme before but working on bigger projects and collaborations just opens so many more doors. we have a huge spreadsheet of things that we would love to screen, and sometimes a big opportunity comes along, and we can just be like “this is it”. But also, because of the more mature, or what could be considered taboo, themes, some of the more gentle programmes we have had before we wouldn’t have been able to screen some of these films, so this is how we began to work through our long list basically.
Rachel: Yeah, before we even began research for this specific programme I think we had a list of about twenty films because we had so many offcuts, things we hadn’t been able to screen before, or things we had seen other people screen that we thought were incredible and wanted to show again. There is this stereotype around screening archive films, or screening heritage as the BFI call it, which is that it is quite polite and dusty with very buttoned-up posh people in it. There is great 1940s stuff that we show, but this was a great opportunity to show how the archive can be sexy, rebellious and interesting. Nearly everything in the program is from the ’90s, I think we have one ‘80s film in there. That is a period we find particularly exciting because in the UK you have a lot of exciting, DIY, female artists and we struggle to slot that into programmes next to the black and white 1940s stuff. So, this is an opportunity to draw a line from the stuff that these innovative and rebellious women were doing in the ‘90s to recent films like Fuck You, where it is provocative in a different way but is in the same tradition of pushing sexual boundaries and showing how female desire manifests in provocative ways, not just safe ways. I think that’s what’s so exciting about working with Isra and T A P E, we get to make those connections across time, and also get a new set of eyes and different perspective.
Isra: I would send them contemporary films too and just ask “what do you think, does this work?” because it is so important in terms of narrowing it down. I remember a lot of putting the programme together was about how does it work together and complement each other, it isn’t about choosing your favourite films, as it never is. It’s about what works together, both contemporary and from the archive. It was also never about centring a relationship, it was more about that longing, whether masturbation, asexual or desire.
Rachel: None of the films have a central relationship, it is about desire coming from within, or from a community in a non-nuclear way of having a relationship. I think this is so exciting for this programme, suggesting other ways you can exercise your desire.
Isra: Yeah, there is something about the realisation of self-love and knowing what you want, looking within. I think we get told so many times what pleasure is, and what we like and don’t like, and so it is so much about these characters and filmmakers starting with the question “What do you want? What do you desire?”. Fun stuff!