Monday, February 12, 2007

The Experimental Practice of History

photo: Jeni Thornley (director) Erika Addis (cinematographer) Pat Fiske (sound recordist) Moya Iceton (supervising producer) on location To the Other Shore 1996. Photo: Sandy Edwards "Jeni Thornley's personal films, Maidens and To the Other Shore, and her collaborative social action documentaries, (A Film for Discussion, with Martha Ansara & Sydney Women's Film Group and For Love or Moneywith McMurchy, Nash and Oliver) are land mark films in the history of Australian feminist cinema over the last three decades. Although these genres of activist cinema fell out of favour in the 1980s, Meaghan Morris's articulation of feminism as an "experimental practice of history" has opened up a space for re-reading Thornley's films.

As an editing bench filmmaker, Thornley reworks existing photographic and archival footage to reconstruct her own history and to investigate second wave feminism as a crisis of female subjectivity. This article is part of a larger project which draws on contemporary readings of Walter Benjamin's materialist practice of history to rethink the registers of history, memory and narrativity in autobiographical films." Felicity Collins, The Experimental Practice of History in the Film Work of Jeni Thornley, Screening the Past, Latrobe University, 1998

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