Miranda July shares underground feminist film archive ‘Joanie 4 Jackie’

  • Words: Spindle

In 1995, filmmaker, artist, and writer Miranda July, at age twenty-one, began creating compilations of films made by women as ‘chainletter’ style tapes. This was in Portland, 1995, amongst the Riot Grrrl scene, where feminism, creativity, and DIY culture was championed, and July hoped to create a network that would support, promote, and share the works of underrepresented female filmmakers. She distributed flyers at Riot Grrrl gigs and at schools that stated: “A challenge and a promise: Lady, you send me your movie and I’ll send you the latest ‘Big Miss Moviola Chainletter Tape.”

July cut together the films she received into compilation tapes of ten films, featuring intros and outros that she made, before sending them back to the filmmakers. Each tape was accompanied by a photocopied booklet of letters by the artists. The movement grew and grew, inspiring female filmmakers for over a decade. July hosted nationwide screenings of the films and held group meetings with their creators. It also sparked off a spin-off series of compilations called ‘The Co-Star Tapes’ that were curated by guests editors such as Astria Suparak and Rita Gonzalez.

“In a pre-YouTube world, this was one way we could see each other’s work and know we weren’t alone,” July said of the project, “It is not an overstatement to say that everything I have ever made has been with these artists and audiences in mind. We granted each other a powerful space that I have kept my heart in and built upon, often in the face insidious, dispiriting misogyny.”

July has now donated the entire feminist film archive, which was been renamed ‘Joanie 4 Jackie,’ to the Getty Research Institute, and has created a website for the project. The archive, which is now open to the public, includes over 300 films and their corresponding booklets, as well as posters, programmes, letters and other ephemera produced during the movement. July hopes to “give energy” to today’s “current, crucial resistance” in donating the archive.

View the online archive at: www.joanie4jackie.com.