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8 June 2017: Bred and Born


As part of the East End Film Festival 2017, Four Corners presents a double-bill of films by founder-members Joanna Davis and Mary Pat Leece, looking at women’s lives in 1970s and 80s East London. Shown here on 16mm prints, both films place women at the centre of the images and stories, seeking to counteract male-defined culture and to create a new visual language through which women’s identity can be explored.

Often During the Day
Joanna Davis
1979 | 16 min | B/W | Digital

“A forensic investigation of the domestic sphere made over two years, it uses close-ups and detailed views of the kitchen to confront the cultural relations of “collectively defined” standards that can induce obsessional behavior, set out in Ann Oakley’s 1974 book The Sociology of Housework. In both films, separated by twenty-five years and coming from markedly different industry positions, the radio is a central narrative pivot. More than simply representing entertainment or creating a familiar domestic affect, it is presented as a threshold where there otherwise appears to be none. By lending its familiar tonality to the soundtrack, it both creates and blurs the boundary between inside and out. As if compensating for a lack of visible exits in the frame, it simply stands in for architecture, adding a sonic spatiality that sums up the psychological mapping of time and place of domestic experience more precisely than a static window or door ever could.” – Victoria Brooks

Bred and Born
Joanna Davis & Mary Pat Leece
1983 | 75 min | B/W | Digital

“An experimental documentary that reflects on the different kinds of relationship between mother and daughters, and the position of women in the family, in a hybrid, disjointed but always involving way. Produced over a period of four years, Bred and Born emerges from two parallel strands: a women's discussion group about mother-daughter relations at a community centre in East London, and interviews conducted with four generations of working-class women from one family in the East End. The film intersperses interviews, footage of the family and local area, archive stills, re-enactments, individual narratives, snippets from the discussion and extracts from published materials on the topic. Thus it draws attention to its own representational codes, and highlights the socially and subjectively constructed nature of women's experience.

All the women who speak in the film were to a large degree included in the filmmaking process, with their reactions helping to shape the direction the film took. This leaves a lot of space to think about which parts of the material have been privileged and for what reasons, and how the women perceived their filmic images. They seem to accept their roles within the family as natural or inevitable, but also recognise the limitations of those roles. This awareness is partial, though strong, and it is not until the very end of the film that we can see how the women's consciousness of their position has changed over several years of their attendance at the group discussions. By the end, the women from the East End family start speaking more as complex subjects and less as illustrations of a certain sociological thesis.” – Marina Vishmidt

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