Guest post by Milly Hirst
Changing Times - representations of women’s histories on screen
I’ve got a few solid years of ushering at a cinema to thank for a life-long love of archive film. It’s not something I ever thought about exploring until I got involved in some film education events, there was something about seeing a living history on screen that got me hooked.
In the last few years I’ve approached archive film projects as a musician, using storytelling and song reflected in the histories of those represented on screen, both truth and fiction, in our recent past and way back to the dawn of filmmaking. When the British Film Institute’s Film Audience Network approached me about working on a new strand of projects, and then told me that the first year’s theme was Women’s Histories, I couldn’t say yes fast enough. Themes of womanhood and untold stories is something that has evolved through my song-writing. The BFI FAN’s Changing Times project is a four-year programme of screenings and public events, giving audiences the chance to reflect on a century of cultural transformation by uncovering our hidden histories and forgotten stories.
(Stills from the East Anglian Film Archive’s Institute of Amateur Cinematographers Women Amateur Filmmakers collection)
I’ve partnered with an exciting new organisation called Reel Connections, who are using film and the creative arts to engage and connect communities, groups and individuals across Norfolk and the East of England. We will be bringing together a selection of archive films from the East Anglian Film Archive’s Institute of Amateur Cinematographers Women Amateur Filmmakers collection which features everything from silent films to 80’s animations, these will be sound tracked live by local musicians exploring themes of womanhood and gender in their own way. Bug Teeth’s Poppy makes dreamy, emotional ambient pop, whilst Vanity Fairy is like the wonderful love child of Kate Bush and Prince, influenced by 70s and 80s pop, soul, and disco. We’ve also got melancholic alt-folk with haunting vocals (that’s me - Milly Hirst! Hello….).
(Left to right: Vanity Fairy, Bug Teeth, Milly Hirst)
The greatest thing about putting together these events is that it has appeal for lots of different audiences, it’s great for those who just want an evening of interesting music and performance, but will equally please those who’ve come along to see some rarely screened films from the archive. Or, if you’re anything like me, you’ll love how both complement each other, it might even spark your own love of archive film. To top that off we’re going to be at the Octagon Chapel, one of the most beautiful spaces in Norwich.
Sisters of Silents will be this Friday 31 May, 7.30pm at the Octagon Chapel. Tickets are pay what you can afford, with a starting price of just £4, and can be bought online through Eventbrite or on the door; https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/sisters-of-silents-tickets-61148811742