Women at the Cinema in Rural Australia
This chapter examines the role of film and cinema as a force in women's lives by focusing on women as cinema audiences. More specifically, it considers the experiences of a modern-day group of women who patronize and actively support the First Avenue Cinema, a 1950s single-screen film theater located in the coastal town of Sawtell in New South Wales, Australia. The chapter first provides a brief background on the geographic and economic contours of Sawtell before turning to First Avenue Cinema and its women audiences, paying attention to how it positions itself as a social space that local women want to inhabit. It also discusses the practices of a “social audience” and describes cinema-going as an act of sociocultural participation. The chapter concludes with a look at the efforts and activism of a particular group of local residents (almost all women) who rallied together in 2009 in an effort to help save the cinema from permanent closure—a response that offers important insights into into the everyday significance of filmgoing for rural women.
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