The Yale Film Study Center’s free public screening series “Treasures from the Yale Film Archive” will highlight films by female directors in its monthly screenings throughout the 2019–2020 season in honor of the 50th anniversary of the matriculation of women to Yale College and the 150th anniversary of the first female students at the University.
All films in the “Treasures from the Yale Film Archive” series use materials from the film archive’s extensive collection of film prints. Founded in 1982, the Film Study Center archive holds a diverse collection of nearly 6,000 35 mm and 16 mm titles that spans more than 120 years of cinema history. The screenings are shown in their original format. This year is the first time the series, now in its sixth year, will have a thematic focus, according to Film Study Center director Michael Kerbel. The featured films in the series this year were selected based on their high quality and variety. None have been featured in past “Treasures” screenings.
Brian Meacham, the Film Study Center’s archive and special collections manager, noted that the film archive holds many excellent films by female directors. By creating a coherent series of screenings throughout the academic year, the Film Study Center will “highlight those films in our collection and take part in this larger celebration [of women at Yale].”
“We have a wide variety of geographically and culturally diverse films we’re trying to showcase that share this common thread,” said Meacham.
Kerbel added that he hopes the screenings will “engender a dialogue and consideration of the women’s point of view” in film.
“The vast majority of films in the whole history of film are directed by men,” Kerbel said. “In film theory, there’s a lot of discussion of what’s known as ‘the male gaze’ — how films are seen from the male point of view. Is there a ‘female gaze?’ Some of the subject matter presented in these films is very traditional, yet is it seen differently from a woman’s point of view?”
As part of the series, Sandra Luckow ’87, an instructor at the Yale School of Art as well as a filmmaker based in New York City, will host a screening and discussion of films by Yale alumnae on Sept. 20.
The event will feature narrative, documentary and animated films. The filmmakers range from pioneering animator Mary Ellen Bute DRA ’26, to Alexis Krasilovsky ’71, whose film “End of the Art World” includes legendary artists such as Andy Warhol and Jasper Johns. These women made these films during their time as students at Yale, before a film and media studies program existed.
“They’re pioneers at Yale,” Kerbel said.
The film major was first offered at Yale in Luckow’s junior year. The documentary she made for her senior project was the first film accepted in place of a written thesis, after being “repeatedly turned down.”
“There is a sort of parallel between women at Yale and filmmaking, of years of struggling for legitimacy and respect,” said Luckow.
According to Luckow, filmmaking is more accessible to students now, compared to her time at Yale. She also highlighted the importance of the communal experience of watching films. Luckow recalled the “rich culture of filmgoing” she experienced as an undergraduate, when she often saw an average of seven or eight films per week, screened by various film societies on campus.
Luckow said that the Film Study Center’s “Treasures” screening series offers the chance to watch films “in the way they were intended to be seen.”
Kerbel explained that using film prints in screenings showcases the films in their “most authentic” forms.
“Our hope is to appeal to as many students as possible, because what we’re presenting is something they may not be able to see again in this format,” said Kerbel. “These are by and large unique opportunities.”
Screenings are free and open to the public. All events will take place in the Whitney Humanities Center Auditorium at 53 Wall St.
Carrie Zhou | firstname.lastname@example.org .