This festival emerged from my own research into women of color artistic production and from my desire to create spaces for women of color to come together and converse across similarities and boundaries. When the festival was founded in 1992, there was no established foundation where such conversations could be initiated and sustained at the university. This period was also marked for me, as an African American woman, by Hollywood's embrace of a "new ghetto aesthetic," produced primarily by male African American filmmakers. Then, as now, women of color enjoyed comparatively limited recognition in both the commercial and independent film and video industries. What made sense then was to represent women of color cross-culturally and provide images of ourselves, challenging diverse audiences to engage with varied aesthetic practices and constructions of culture and self.
In its first three years, the festival went through various changes. The first year witnessed little artist participation while the second year included four panels of artists, arts administrators, and emerging scholars. By the third year, the festival had gained enough recognition to entertain a national call for submissions. In the second and third years, the campus was graced with the presence of award-winning artists Michelle Parkerson, Lourdes Portillo, and Renee Tajima as well as artists/arts administrators the caliber of Ada Gay Griffin, Cheryl Fabio-Bradford, and Jennifer Maytorena Taylor.
During that time, the festival coalesced through considerable research as well as discussions with people who, from its inception, acted as resources and sounding boards. They included C. Beatriz Lopez-Flores, then Director of the campus Women's Center; Professor Angela Y. Davis, the festival's faculty advisor, who suggested that the 1993 festival be dedicated to the life and work of Audre Lorde; Maria Ochoa, who conceived of the Research Cluster for the Study of Women of Color in Collaboration and Conflict and co-founded it with me; Barbara K. Ige, a dedicated moderator; and Professor Carolyn Martin Shaw, then Kresge College Provost. The festival also benefited from the detailed attentiveness of Martin Wollesen, former Kresge College Activities Director, who assisted in logistics and graphic design. Rosalee Cabrera of the SAA/EOP office and Arlyn Osborne of the Women's Center offered their promotional skills as well as the energies of their resident assistant and volunteer staff, respectively.
Five years after beginning this work, I am excited that it stands without me and that an amalgam of women of color artists, scholars, administrators, faculty, and programmers continues to come together to raise the festival into its future.
Founder and Former Director
Women of Color Film and Video Festival
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