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Queer Archives – three interviews with queer archivists

Interviews made by Dagmar Brunow and curated by Bildwechsel for the 31. Hamburg International Queer Film Festival 2020.

Queer archives are your collective memory and places of queer history(ies). They are committed to ensuring that queer images and stories remain present and accessible. Digitalized videos, documentaries and feature films are currently finding a new audience. What challenges are queer archives facing today? In this program, Bildwechsel presents a fantastic wonder bag with documentaries and interviews. For this program Dagmar Brunow has conducted three interviews with archivists for you: with Sharon Thompson from the Lesbian Home Movie Project, Maine, Anna Linder from The Swedish Archive for Queer Moving Images and with filmmaker Jenni Olson, whose collection of queer films has now been added to the Harvard Film Archive.

This program premiered at 31. Hamburg International Queer Film Festival Thursday October 22, 2020 at 7pm. Originally with a screening afterwards of the film The Archivettes by Megan Rossman, USA 2019, about the Lesbian Herstory Archive in New York. The section was dedicated to video contributions on independent audiovisual archives.

Queer Archives is presented by durbahn from Bildwechsel together with Dagmar Brunow.
Interviews made by Dagmar Brunow with Sharon Thompson, Anna Linder and Jenni Olson during the Autumn 2020.

Animation Vincent Orback. Composer Amanda Lindgren.
Translated from German by Jessyca R. Hauser.
Translated from English by Sonja Majumder, Cosima Ertl and Reglindes Helmer. English subtitles Josefin Granqvist.

More about all participants:
Dagmar Brunow is an Associate Professor in film studies at Linnaeus University in Sweden. Her research interests are memory cultures, film archives, video collectives and queer historiography. In her research project The Cultural Heritage of the Moving Image, financed by the Swedish Research Council (2016-2018) she has examined how archives are currently curating film heritage in terms of diversity politics and the recognition of minorities. Dagmar divides her time between Växjö (Sweden) and Hamburg, where she is part of the programming committee for the Hamburg International Queer Film Festival.

durbahn is an artist and archivist and one of the founding persons of Bildwechsel. durbahn is responsible for the early video works in the video collection and the video museum von Bildwechsel (together with others).  durbahn is also very much involved with installing a digital video castle to present the video treasures of the huge video collection.

Bildwechsel (1979-) is an umbrella organisation for women, and their communities, who are involved in media, culture and art. Recognising and celebrating the diverse and changing communities we live and work within we use the term woman+ – to reflect our inclusiveness to those that support us and work alongside us. With its main base in Hamburg, Bildwechsel acts as a platform and as an infrastructure to:

to support and develop their own work, projects, ideas,
to find out about the work of others, to make connections,
to develop new initiatives and build up archival collections that represent their work.

Bildwechsel aims to present a panoramic view of the work of women artists, especially of those working over the last 30 years. we also have a rapidly expanding collection of work from queer artists and filmmakers. I love Bildwechsel is a personal website that pays homage to Bildwechsel.

Sharon Thompson co-edited Powers of Desire: The Politics of Sexuality (1983) and wrote Going All the Way: Teenage Girls’ Tales of Sex, Romance & Pregnancy (1995). Her stories and articles have appeared in an eclectic range of publications, from Show to Heresies. She’s currently writing fiction and directing Lesbian Home Movie Project (LHMP), whose board also includes Kate Horsfield and B. Ruby Rich.

Lesbian Home Movie Project (LHMP) started when filmmaker Sheila McLaughlin inherited a cabin in downeast Maine from her mother’s high school Latin tutor, Almeda “Meda” Benoit (1910-2007). Meda had shared the cabin with her last partner, New York City schoolteacher & filmmaker Ruth Huntington Storm (1888-1981). Ten of Storm’s edited 16mm reels were inside, along with Storm’s camera, projector, and screens. McLaughlin had expected more reels, including a reel of herself as a toddler. When she happened to mention the missing reels to longtime friend B. Ruby Rich, Ruby suggested contacting a NYC acquaintance who had recently moved to Maine, Sharon Thompson.  Sharon tracked seven missing reels to Northeast Historic Film and fell in love with Storm’s work.  When she began to show it to local lesbian friends, they in turn began to pull their own home movies out of their closets. Clearly there were more lesbian home movies than anyone realized.  She, Ruby Rich, and Kate Horsfield created LHMP to find, document, and preserve them.

Anna Linder, has worked in the field of moving images as an independent artist, curator and producer since early 1990s. Now based in Gothenburg, Sweden, her work has been selected for festivals and art exhibitions internationally. Films to mention is cum pane – the one you share your bread with, densen, 13 Related Sewing Machines and Spermwhore. Linder worked at Filmform – a foundation dedicated to promotion, distribution and preservation of Swedish Art Film and Experimental Video in Sthlm between 2004-2012. Recent projects is the artistic research project and book Queer Moving Images (2013-2017) at HDK-Valand in Gothenburg and the new archive for queer moving images in Sweden: SAQMI (2017-). The film Spermwhore was installed at Moderna Museet in Stockholm throughout the summer 2018 and belongs to their collection now. Linder has been active in several artists groups; High Heel SistersFylkingen and YES! Association

For the first time ever in Sweden The Swedish Archive for Queer Moving Images are compiling the history of queer moving images and storing it all in one place. A history that has been marginalized through oppression and self-censorship. Through methods such as documentation, interviews, archiving, screenings, presentations, workshops and discussions, the first platform of queer moving images in Sweden will be created. Read the whole Manifesto here.

Jenni Olson One of the world’s leading experts on LGBT cinema history, Jenni Olson is an independent writer and non-fiction filmmaker based in Berkeley, California. Her work as an experimental filmmaker and her expansive collection of LGBTQ film prints and memorabilia was acquired by the Harvard Film Archive in 2020; and her reflection on the last 30 years of LGBT film history, in The Oxford Handbook of Queer Cinema, is forthcoming from Oxford University Press in 2021. Jenni’s work as a film historian includes the Lambda Award nominated The Queer Movie Poster Book (Chronicle Books, 2005). Amongst her many efforts in championing LGBT films and filmmakers, she is a founding advisory board member of the Outfest UCLA Legacy Project for LGBT Moving Image Preservation. She holds a BA in Film Studies from the University of Minnesota and is currently an independent consultant in marketing and digital film distribution. A 2018 MacDowell Fellow, Jenni is now in development on her third feature-length essay film, The Quiet World and an essayistic memoir of the same name. Please also visit Butch.org for CV or longer bio and more info.

Lesbisch Schwule Filmtage Hamburg:
The Hamburg International Queer Film Festival (HIQFF) is Germany’s oldest, largest and, from the very start, queerest film festival. Once a year in October it attracts some 15,500 visitors to cinemas and various supporting events in Hamburg. It is the city’s second largest film festival and has a firm place in the Hamburg cultural landscape.

Thanks to durbahn, Jenni Olson, Sharon Thompson, Bildwechsel, Lesbisch Schwule Filmtage Hamburg, Swedish Arts Council

Related things (open access):

Dagmar Brunow Queering the archive: Amateur films and LGBT+ memory
In: Ingrid Stigsdotter (ed.), Making the invisible visible: Reclaiming women’s agency in Swedish film history and beyond (pp. 97-117). Nordic Academic Press Kriterium (2019).

Dagmar Brunow NAMING, SHAMING, FRAMING? The ambivalence of queer visibility in audio-visual archives*  In: Anu Koivunen, Katariina Kyrölä and Ingrid Ryberg (ed.), The Power of Vulnerability – Mobilising Affect in Feminist, Queer and Anti-Racist Media Cultures (2018). Manchester University Press.

Mathias Danbolt We’re Here! We’re Queer? – Activist Archives and Archival Activism In: Lambda Nordica. Issue Vol. 15 No. 3-4 (2010): Queer Methodologies.

Sharon Thompson Urgent: The Lesbian Home Movie Project In: Journal of Lesbian Studies, 18 (Jan 9, 2015), pp. 114-116.

Sharon Thompson Powers of Suggestion: From LHA to Lesbian Home Movie Project In: Sinister Wisdom #118  (Fall 2020), pp. 117-120.

Anna Linder Towards a Queer History In: In & Beyond Sweden: Journeys Through an Art Scene (pp. 212-217). Art and Theory Publishing (2018).

durbahn_Dagmar_Brunow
durbahn and Dagmar Brunow
Dagmar Brunow
Dagmar Brunow
Sharon Thompson
Sharon Thompson
Anna_Linder_Dagmar_Brunow
Anna Linder and Dagmar Brunow
Jenni_Olson_Dagmar_Brunow
Jenni Olson and Dagmar Brunow
Sharon Thompson
Sharon Thompson
Lesbian Home Movie Project
Lesbian Home Movie Project - Parlor Screening, 2015.
Jenni Olson
Jenni Olson
Anna_Linder_SAQMI_space
Anna Linder in SAQMIs small space. Photo by Del LaGrace Volcano
Bildwechsel
Bildwechsel in Hamburg. Drawings by durbahn.
Bildwechsel