MeCCSA conference panel

Media Interactions and Environments, University of Brighton, 8-10 January 2020

Participatory modes of film production and distribution: Jill Craigie and activist film

In this panel, we foreground Craigie’s distinctive collaborative approach to film production during WWII and the post-war period, framed through her feminist and socialist politics. We foreground Craigie’s understanding of film as a medium suited to education and activism, taking as case studies the documentary Out of Chaos (1944), The Way We Live (1946), her film about the plan for reconstructing Plymouth and To Be a Woman (1951), a film conceived, made and exhibited in support of the equal pay campaigns. We argue that Craigie’s approach to filmmaking was profoundly collaborative, working with subjects/communities to develop her ideas. Craigie worked with trade unions, industry bodies and the film industry to secure funding, while targeting film societies, unions and community groups to bolster regional awareness of and interest in her films. Using correspondence and records of screenings of these works we point to a distinctive participatory mode of film distribution through which Craigie sought to ensure that different kinds of films were shown and debated.

  • ‘I Know What I Like’: documentary, pedagogy and art as process in Out of Chaos (1944) – Yvonne Tasker (University of Leeds)
  • ‘The Plan is the Hero, The Players Are Townsfolk’: Town planning and local living environments in The Way We Live (1946) – Hollie Price (University of Sussex)
  • ‘I am not particularly despondent yet’ The political tone of Jill Craigie’s To Be A Woman (1951) – Sadie Wearing (LSE)