Film & Feminism: Amherst Scholar to Deliver Distinguished Lecture at International Film Festival
May 21, 2015
By Rachel Rogol
Actress and filmmaker Ida Lupino (1918–1995)
“I am not exaggerating when I say that women have been publicly calling for better roles behind the camera for a hundred years—almost since the inauguration of film itself,” writes Amelie Hastie in the most recent issue of "The Vulnerable Spectator," her recurring column in the academic journal Film Quarterly.
Hastie, professor of English and film and media studies at Amherst, has written extensively about historical and contemporary women in film. Her first book, Cupboards of Curiosity: Women, Recollection, and Film History (Duke University Press, 2007), explores notions female authorship in the silent-film era.
Her 2009 book The Bigamist, authored for the prestigious BFI Film Classics series, examines the directed works of actress and filmmaker Ida Lupino, which Hastie describes as providing “a complex commentary on the fantasies and fears of mid-century domestic life in the USA” from a female point of view.
It’s this research on Lupino in particular that will bring Hastie to the 17th annual Seoul International Women’s Film Festival to deliver the distinguished lecture “Ida Lupino and Historical Legibility” on June 1. Lupino, an English-American actress and filmmaker, was the only woman actively directing in 1950s Hollywood and the first woman to star in a film she also directed. As an expert on her life and work, Hastie will examine Lupino’s filmmaking career and consider why her name and accomplishments have been largely lost to cinematic history.
Hastie’s lecture will be part of a retrospective honoring the late film star. What’s interesting about a retrospective of Lupino in 2015, says Hastie, is that her directed works explored various social issues in mid-20th-century America that are still relevant, and her 48-year cinematic career is especially relevant to the career trajectories of women in film today.
Hastie suggests a variety of complex reasons for why such an enigmatic figure would fall to the margins of history, including a lack of attention by feminist scholars as well as the much more widespread sexism in and out of the academy. Regarding the latter, she references a New York Times article published in December 2014 and a viral Tumblr blog that persistently tells personal stories of women facing bias in the industry and casts Hollywood today as a perpetual “boys club.”
In her teaching at Amherst, Hastie says she interjects her own feminist training in every course by insisting on the presence of women filmmakers in students’ studies. At the film festival in South Korea, Hastie hopes the collective efforts to screen and discuss films by women will help revive figures like Lupino and empower contemporary women filmmakers to change not only filmmaking practices but also history itself.
Fall 2014 Student Film & Video Showcase
Production and Critical Studies Student Work
Ken Howard '66 returned to Amherst College as a Croxton Lecturer in fall 2012 to teach "The Role and the Self." A winner of Tony and Emmy Awards and most the recent president of the Screen Actors Guild, Howard is known for his roles TV series such as "The White Shadow" and "30 Rock" and films including J. Edgar. His course was about more than just the craft and history of acting, however—its aim was to help students develop their writing and speaking skills, media literacy and understanding of human behavior. In the final two weeks of class, students demonstrated what they'd learned, performing sonnets and character roles. Click on the link to see the results!