FemFlix revisits an overlooked decade of 90s feminism in Australia

2 August 2016

An overlooked decade of 90s feminism that saw the rise of cyberfeminists, zine counter culture and high-octane post-punk gestures on screen is revisited in a new exhibition FemFlix at Sydney College of the Arts from 10 August to 3 September 2016.

Still from the film 'Joy' written and directed by Cate Shortland in 1999.

Joy, still, written and directed by Cate Shortland, 1999.

Femflix features the work of Australian filmmakers who led a new wave of feminism amid the transformation of screen cultures by the arrival of the internet and global use of personal computers.

Curated by SCA’s Dr Jacqueline Millner alongside filmmakers Jane Schneider and Deborah Szapiro, FemFlix features live action shorts, digital interactive works, animation and video from the 1990s that capture the dynamic voices and ideas of more than 40 filmmakers and artists.

Dr Jacqueline Millner, SCA’s Associate Dean of Research said: “Nineties feminism was sophisticated and influential through its affinities with queer culture, activism and experimentation with new digital technologies.

Femflix plugs us into the infectious, subversive energy of 90s feminism as expressed through its manifold screen cultures from short film to animation, computer games to digital works, and reminds us of powerful feminist visions that remain all too relevant today.
Dr Jacqueline Millner

Independent filmmaker and co-curator of FemFlix Jane Schneider said: “It was a time when queer aesthetics exploded onto the screen, an exciting new generation of Indigenous filmmakers hit the mainstream, and women were making edgy, experimental work as well as feature films that competed successfully at the Cannes International Film Festival”.

The 90s was also a time of rapid change in technology, which now means that many of the filmmakers do not have playable copies of their films, resulting in a loss of the art, history and women’s voices of this time.

FemFlix has provided an opportunity to make digital copies of some of these films for the first time, and to unearth rarely-seen films by female voices, presented alongside popular and significant films of 90s feminism” said Dr Jacqueline Millner.

The exhibition follows the recent release of Screen Australia’s Gender Matters report in December 2015 that has seen an injection of $3 million in funding of 45 women-led projects to redress gender inequality in the screen industries.

FemFlix will be officially opened on 10 August in SCA Galleries by Samantha Lang, President of the Australian Directors Guild, who is part of Screen Australia’s new taskforce on gender equity and who made her first films in the 90s.

“One of the things I have realised is that while my film The Well was made almost 20 years ago, and it went to Cannes where I was the only woman director in competition that year and therefore it was significant, it is almost impossible to find copies of The Well today. That got me thinking that as women film makers, we must make sure our work is archived. We need to ensure our work is visible, so that it is part of our social and cultural history,” said Samantha Lang.

The opening of FemFlix will see a live performance by Sydney artist Tina Havelock Stevens aka The White Drummer who will play a sonic tennis match with collaborator Liberty, the guitarist from The Mumps. Cyberfeminist art collective VNX Matrix will celebrate the 25th anniversary of their Cyberfeminist Manifesto by premiering their updated manifesto.