spectral women: studio d and the crisis of visibility

As a novice feminist, I’m always interested not only in women’s political and theoretical views but, additionally, the modes of dissemination of these perspectives. Canadian feminism, to me, is especially interesting as it must constantly compound and focus women’s concerns with such issues as post-colonialism, multiculturalism and language. I was naturally drawn towards Studio D, the women’s film unit within the NFB, as platform which could inform me in regards to some of these concerns.

When attempting to research Studio D, I could find little to no information on it provided by the NFB itself — even more troubling was the total lack of filmography attributed through the official site to Studio D. I’m not saying its totally invisible, but there is a definite lack of accreditation and acknowledgment within the NFB’s official spaces to the feminist film unit. Though Studio D’s life spanned over 20 years (1974-1996, RIP), it seems to have been totally buried and long forgotten by its very own oppressive patriarch, the NFB.



Albeit, I do suffer from the retro-nostalgia that is so prevalent within youth culture today: I seem to unnecessarily and inexplicably lust for all things analog, old-timey or vintage. However, in the case of Studio D, I don’t think its merely sentimentality for the antiquated or non-mainstream that interests me: I am sincerely interested in discovering and tracing the voice of Canadian feminism.

Forbidden Love: The Unashamed Stories of Lesbian Lives is one of the film’s of Studio D that so embodies the feminism I would wish to align myself with. Though it is a retroactive view of same-sex women in Canada, it is not dated, but rather represents to me what would seem an honest and sincere account of what it was like to live with this marginalized identity in the mid-20th century. I was so interested in and attracted by the women in the film: they are so vibrant, self-aware, alive. How could the NFB have buried them?













Maybe the NFB’s intentions were honourable in its lack of acknowledgment of Studio D. Maybe, by de-compartmentalizing the representational concerns of women, the NFB intended to create a more po-mo (read: inclusive, fragmented, maybe confusing) space. Like my predecessors at Studio D, I don’t have answers here. All I have are some well-intentioned questions.

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