september, 2022

thu15sepAll Daywed21Terre FemmeDirected by Courtney Stephens(All Day) Anthology Film Archives, 32 Second AvenueCountry:USA

Event Details


Writer and filmmaker Courtney Stephens has, over the past decade, emerged as a crucial figure in the realms of experimental and documentary cinema, thanks to her numerous short films – several of which have found her working with archival film material – as well as the feature-length THE AMERICAN SECTOR (2020, co-directed by Pacho Velez). Her new essay-film/performance-piece, TERRA FEMME is constructed entirely from amateur travelogues filmed by women in the 1920s-50s. Moving between geographical essay, personal inquiry, and historical speculation, Stephens examines these films as both private documents and accidental ethnographies. The travelogues present a new type of traveler: no longer a male seeker of conquests, she might be a divorcee on a tour of biblical gardens, or a widow on a cruise to the North Pole. In rescuing the films of these unknown travelers from the archives, TERRA FEMME weaves together questions of female authorship, cinematic excavation, and the Western gaze, complicating the freedoms these women experienced while traveling through foreign landscapes. A film about longing for past worlds through cinematic excavation, TERRA FEMME reveals how this force flows in both directions, as women from the past convey themselves into the present through the power of their gaze.

TERRA FEMME began life as an illustrated lecture, with Stephens presenting and discussing her archival finds in person – a format that mirrored the way the films might have been exhibited when they were shot. During the pandemic, Stephens edited the material into an hour-long essay film, with music by Sarah Davachi. During Anthology’s week-long engagement, we will present two incarnations of the film, with Stephens performing the narration live on Thursday, September 15 and Sunday, September 18.

“In showing the filmmakers’ wide-ranging cinematic practices and points of view, [Stephens] pursues the underlying question of whether there is such a thing as the ‘female gaze’; she develops far-reaching analyses of women’s filmmaking in an era when few women had professional directing careers – and ultimately connects their work to the sociology and the spirit of travel itself.” –Richard Brody, NEW YORKER

“By weaving together these archives, Stephens reveals the private yearnings of subjects seeking their place in the world, and the yearnings of a filmmaker seeking these subjectivities. TERRA FEMME captures a double process of self-learning, making it a perfect reflection of what museum curators like to call time-based media. Lyrical and searching, its layers of reality and thought accumulate, like sediment, into new formations of knowledge.” –Mathilde Walker-Billaud, BOMB

The live version will be presented on Thurs, Sept 15 and Sun, Sept 18 at 7:30 each night; the pre-recorded version will screen on Fri, Sept 16 at 7:00 & 9:00, Sat, Sept 17 at 5:00, 7:00 & 9:00, Sun, Sept 18 at 5:30, and Mon-Wed, Sept 19-21 at 7:00 & 9:00 nightly.


september 15 (Thursday) - 21 (Wednesday)


Anthology Film Archives

32 Second Avenue