‘Memory Film: a filmmaker’s diary’ is a poetic documentary based on Jeni Thornley’s Super 8 archive (1974-2003), filmed during the decades of her personal and political filmmaking, while producing ‘Maidens’, ‘To the Other Shore’, ‘Island Home Country’ and the collaborative feature ‘For Love or Money’. Documenting the activism of three decades, amidst the intense sexual politics of radical feminism and social change, ‘Memory Film’ is like a road movie – an inner journey of liberation – gender fluidity, lesbian separatism, love and its tribulations, the pleasure and pain of motherhood, violence against women and the desire for a world free of war and colonising. It is an experiential, lyrical film expressing cinema’s power, not in an ‘issue’ based way, but with a poetic sensibility via images and music, as in silent cinema.
Accompanied by a unique music score, with no speaking voices, narration or interviews, the film offers an immersive experience into radical politics and the dynamic interplay between the personal and the political – transforming lives. ‘Memory film’ suggests a ‘space of possibility’ – the film functions as a guide, providing ‘lived experience’ of a journey of liberation across historical eras of social change for women. Viewers may experience a shift from inner conflicts to a clearer sense of self, gaining a sense of ethics and empowerment for life and its challenges. This may inspire an internal process rather than a ‘call to action’. The film may trigger insights into the viewer’s own story and women’s ‘inner’ stories more widely.
‘Memory Film’ brings to light an important political & cultural era in Australian lesbian history. In the sequence, “The Ferment, The Fissure”, the film documents the turbulent time of 1970s radical feminism, lesbian separatism and direct action by the Women’s Rape Collective. Rare footage of women’s squats in Glebe and Rozelle, the Witches House in Annandale, the Minto Lesbian Feminist Conference (1976), the convict women’s revolt in the feature film ‘Journey Among Women’ (and the solidarity of the lesbian actors and crew on set), footage of the women’s land, Amazon Acres and the demonstrations, ‘We Remember all Women Raped in all Wars’, document the inspiring movements by feminist lesbians to transform their lives and patriarchal culture. This footage also communicates the lively, joyful passionate mood of the day; this quote in the film says it all : “There was this tremendous feeling of possibility. It was a moment when everything seemed to be changing. It wasn’t just us. It was all around us, and when you moved in the street, there was a whole world of different things happening. The grant from Lesbians Inc will go towards the final production and publicity of the film screenings at festivals around Australia.