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Credit: Jenny Gilbertson (with Cuthbert Cayley) 1938/39, courtesy of Shetland Museum & Archive
This online event focuses on early 20th Century women filmmakers in Scotland. Chaired by Professor Melanie Bell, (Film History, School of Media and Communication, University of Leeds), whose area of expertise is in Gender and Film as well as British Cinema History, the event will discuss the film production of that period, the ethics of filming others, and caring for their work. It will also reflect on how the women filmmakers saw themselves and their motivations for making film. This discussion is with Ros Cranston (Curator of Non-Fiction Film and Television at the BFI National Archive, BFI National Archive), Shona Main (PhD researcher, University of Stirling and The Glasgow School of Art); Janet McBain (founding Curator, Scottish Screen Archive); Professor Sarah Neely (Theatre, Film & Television Studies, University of Glasgow, Dr Isabel Seguí (Film and Visual Culture Department, University of Aberdeen) and Jenny Brownrigg (The Glasgow School of Art, curator of Glean).
Melanie Bell is Professor of Film History at the University of Leeds. She examines production histories through a gendered lens and has published widely on many aspects of women’s film history including documentary directors, costume designers, and foley artists. She uses oral histories, labour records, photographs and ephemera in her scholarship, and is especially interested in life narratives and occupational identities.
Jenny Brownrigg is Exhibitions Director at The Glasgow School of Art. Her research interests include modern and contemporary Scottish women artists. She is curator of the exhibition ‘Glean: early 2oth century women filmmakers and photographers in Scotland’, at City Art Centre, Edinburgh, Scotland (2022 / 2023).
Ros Cranston is a Curator of Non-Fiction Film and Television at the BFI National Archive. She has a special interest in women documentary filmmakers, and leads The Camera is Ours: Britain’s women documentary makers project. She also led the BFI project This Working Life, which celebrates Britain’s coalmining, shipbuilding and steelmaking heritage on film.
Shona Main has just submitted a SGSAH-supported practice-led PhD thesis at Stirling University. A filmmaker herself, she is interested in the quietly radical ethical practice of the early documentary filmmaker Jenny Gilbertson (1902-1990) who filmed Shetland crofters in the 1930s and Inuit of Coral Harbour and Grise Fiord in Arctic Canada in the 1970s – when she was in her seventies. Operating alone and outside the film industry, Gilbertson’s DIY approach to filmmaking allowed her to take the time to attend, listen and build and sustain friendships with the people she lived and filmed with.
A graduate in Scottish history, and former Survey Officer for the National Register of Archives Scotland, Janet McBain joined the Scottish Film Council in 1976 at the inception of what was to become the Scottish Screen Archive. Since then she has overseen the development of the archive into Scotland’s national collection of some 35,000 reels of film and video reflecting Scottish life and cinematic art in the film century, and has been researching and promoting the history of film production and cinema exhibition in Scotland. She is the author of ‘Pictures Past – Recollections of Scottish Cinema Going’ (pub Moorfoot 1985) and contributor of essays, articles and conference papers on many aspects of film in Scotland. In 2006 she was awarded the Outstanding Achievement in Film by BAFTA Scotland for her work in preserving and presenting Scotland’s film heritage and in 2016 was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters (DLitt) from the University of Glasgow.
Sarah Neely is Professor in Film and Visual Culture at the University of Glasgow. Her current research focuses on the areas of film history, memory and artists’ moving image. Recent publications include Between Categories: The Films of Margaret Tait – Portraits, Poetry, Sound and Place (Peter Lang, 2016) and, as editor, Personae (LUX, 2021), a non-fiction work by Margaret Tait. She is currently writing a book on memory, archives and creativity.
Isabel Seguí is a Lecturer in Film and Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the University of Aberdeen. Her work has appeared in academic journals such as Latin American Perspectives, Feminist Media Histories, Framework, Jump Cut, and edited collections like Feminist Worldmaking and the Moving Image (Balsom & Peleg eds, the MIT Press, 2022) or Incomplete: the Feminist Possibilities of the Unfinished Film (Beeston & Solomon eds., UC California Press, 2023). She is a member of the steering committee of RAMA (Latin American Women’s Audiovisual Research Network).