Feminist Filmmaking Talk with Michelle Parkerson

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Film maker and poet Michelle Parkerson Monday, Aug. 13, 2011 in Washington. (Sharon Farmer/sfphotoworks)

By: Anna Gombert, Co-Editor in Chief and Kassel Franco-Garibay, Editor of Opinions

This week Drew hosted filmmaker Michelle Parkerson for a film screening and artist talk. On Monday, November 6, there was a screening of Parkerson’s film Litany for Survival: The Life and Work of Audre Lorde in Arts 106. Then on Wednesday, November 8, Parkerson gave a talk on her work titled “Mining The Margins: Feminist Filmmaking, Activism, and The Audre Lorde Film Project” in LC-28. Parkerson is a writer, filmmaker and academic from Washington, D.C. She was hosted on campus by the Women and Gender Studies department who facilitated the showing of her award-winning film.

Lorde and Ada Gay Griffin co-directed the film, which was Griffin’s brainchild, and the two women spent eight years working on the project. The documentary is a portrait of Audre Lorde, the New York City feminist, poet and civil rights activist. Through overlapping layers of information, Parkerson and Griffin pay tribute to Lorde’s impact as a mentor and inspirational force to the feminist and womanist movement.

“Activism is an everyday activity; it is making conscious choices every day. Activism is about rejecting oppression,” said Parkerson. Her talk touched on her trajectory as a filmmaker, the role of a documentarian as an investigator and the importance of women of color telling each other’s and their own stories. She also showed clips of other films she had worked on.

“Filmmaking for me is about service. Activism and service,” Parkerson stated.

Anna Walker (’20), stated, “I found it really interesting how she talked about intersectionality, and about how she viewed making a documentary as an act of service.”

At the end of the talk, the floor was opened to questions from the audience. One of the questions was about respecting the subjects of her documentaries and how to portray them truthfully. Parkerson talked about her creative process and how she always made sure to spend time with her subjects, full days even. “One thing that really stood out to me was the time she took to understand her characters,” said Nohemy Zabala (’21).

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