Bits & Pieces: Female Focused Media Round-Up

As you can imagine, my attention has been fine tuning to female-rich content about creative women, past and present. Here’s a few things which have caught my attention as I perused US-based artists for my own project.

I came across this video while I was doing a search for something from Helen Reddingtons’ ‘Lost Women Of Rock n Roll’. It’s a jewel of a film!
From the YouTube page,
“Americana Women: Roots Musicians – Women’s Tales & Tunes” This is a 27 minute introduction to the documentary film MusicBox Project is producing for screenings and an educational series. The women musicians seen here are part of the MusicBox Project Collection of 80 interviews and over 1,000 songs at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.

Tamara de Lempicka was a Polish born painter who innovated by combining realism with cubism into portraits and scenes that evoke a kind of soft otherworldly quality.

I’d seen her work in passing but hadn’t really stopped to investigate the artists story and background until now. From a privileged start, marriage at a young age she survived the Russian revolution to establish herself as a leading force in her craft. Follow the link above to see for yourself the incredible journey her days took.

! Women Art Revolution
Lynn Hershman’s thought-provoking documentary about the presence and innovation by women in the art world is a long overdue account of the game changing contributions they made. Starting in the 1960’s through the end of the 20th century, the film stands as a testament to the plethora of talent and innovation brought to the fore by a wide variety of creatives who just happen to be women.

Without Lying Down: Frances Marion and the Power of Women in Hollywood

I’d read about Francis Marion in Ally Acker’s ‘Reel Women‘ (shortly after it was published in the early 1990’s). After volume 10 of the ‘Reel Women’ film series became available on Amazon video-on-demand, I was able to revisit my knowledge on this inimitable cinema pioneer.

Starting her career as a journalist, Frances came to be the premier screenwriter in Hollywoods silent and golden era. Her scripts were highly sought, garnering two Academy Award for Best Screenplay. She’s also attributed as having coined the phrase ‘America’s Sweetheart’ in reference to fellow actress/producer/director Mary Pickford with whom she had a close, lifelong friendship.

The linked documentary was made for broadcast on Turner Classic Movies. It’s since been made available via DVD.

One of the women interviewed for ‘Americana Women: Roots Musicians’ was Gayle Adegbalola. The moment she hit the screen, I was mesmerized by the power she conveyed through a stripped down performance with just an acoustic guitar in a living room. The immense talent and obvious joy she derived in sharing her song hit deep. I had to learn more about her. Fortunately, she has a comprehensive web presence which I spent hours digging through.

The clip above is featured in her site and helps guide me further into history of women in an area I’m not too familiar with – early 20th century blues.

I sat down to watch Radical Harmonies the second it came available on Netflix streaming.

Just as Gayle Adegbalola did, this film gave me further insight to a topic I’d not been too familiar with previously – the rise of women instrumentalists in the 20th century (a subject I’ve since been able to dig deeper on with Gillian Gaar’s book, ‘She’s A Rebel‘).

The film takes an honest look of the time, place and circumstances that birthed this movement. It’s a no holds barred account representing the diversity and tribulations. A must-see for anyone interested in the time and topic.

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