Open City Documentary Festival

Terra Femme: Women and the Travelogue Archives

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Courtney Stephens is a non-fiction filmmaker based in Los Angeles, whose language-driven work often touches on geographic history and female lives. She was a Fulbright Scholar to India to study early female travelogues, and has performed versions of this talk at the Royal Geographical Society, Union Docs, and the Penn Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology.

Filmmaker Courtney Stephens presents a selection of “home travelogues,” amateur films shot by women in the 1920s-40s. Intended to be screened for the friends and family of their makers, these films occupy a space between home movie and accidental ethnography. They present a new type of traveler: no longer a (typically male) seeker of conquests, she might be a divorcee on a tour of biblical gardens, or a widow on a chartered cruise to the North Pole. These optical autobiographies present the world through early female filmmaker’s eyes, while raising thorny questions about the politics of the gaze. The event will feature excerpts from several films with a performance lecture by Stephens, who will touch on individual biographies as well as broader historical context for the documents.

Following the performance, there will be an extended conversation moderated by Daniella Shreir with Courtney Stephens, Aveek Sen, Shilyh Warren and Pooja Rangan.

Please note: this event will be as a livestream and is available worldwide. The event is ticketed and booking is required. Ticket holders will be sent a password protected link to access the event 1 hour before the event start time.