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Doing Women's Film HistoryReframing Cinemas, Past and Future$
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Julia Knight and Christine Gledhill

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780252039683

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252039683.001.0001

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Cinema of Women

Cinema of Women

The Work of a Feminist Distributor

(p.218) Chapter 15 Cinema of Women
Doing Women's Film History

Julia Knight

University of Illinois Press

This chapter examines the role of distributors and a range of issues that come into play in getting films from their makers to their potential audiences by focusing on the work of the UK women's distributor Cinema of Women (COW). COW was founded in 1979 by six women—Mandy Rose, Fern Presant, Audrey Summerhill, Caroline Spry, Melanie Chail, and Maggie Sellers—who had been “shocked by the limited availability of good films made by women.” They set out to get feminist films into first-run cinemas and onto television, but they felt also that women filmmakers should be able to exercise some control over where and how their films were exhibited. This chapter considers the challenges faced by COW in trying to make their films accessible to wider audiences in the UK via theatrical release. It shows that building audiences of especially (although not exclusively) women is central to COW's distribution work. Furthermore, COW's performance and the level of service the distributor offered did not always meet filmmakers' expectations.

Keywords:   distributors, Cinema of Women, feminist films, cinema, television, women filmmakers, distribution, audiences, women

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