[Reader-list] [Unlikely] Invitation to participate in a women videoletter

Doro Wiese dorowiese at gmx.de
Thu Aug 28 13:42:31 IST 2003

Hi there!
If you define yourself as a women, please take notice of the
following invation to participate in the second edition of a 'women
videoletter' which is going to be screened at the World Social Forum
in Bombay/Mumbai, India, in January 2004.
Greetings, Doro

We’d like to invite you to participate in the second edition of
‘women videoletters’.
The idea of the project is to make a compilation of short videofilms
by women, which will bring together different local perspectives
concerning social hierarchies, militarization and war. We want to
make visible the effects that war produces. And our interest is to
give a view on the global connections between sustained poverty,
gender hierarchies and normative heterosexuality by collecting
differing regional perspectives.
What point of views do women, straight, lesbian and transgender
women, have on the daily life of war or on the ‘normality’ of war?
How do we define what war is?

the project started during the war in afghanistan
The idea for this project came up at a meeting around video activism
in Berlin in October 2001, where there were about ten women from
different video initiatives from India, Germany, Mexico and
Switzerland who felt the need to react to the follow ups of September
11th: this was first of all the war in Afghanistan but also measures
like for example the installation of the racist security laws in
Germany. A great need was felt for the exchange of critical feminist
perspectives from women of different descents and contexts.
In 2002 the first edition of videoletters by women was produced by
women activists and filmmakers from India, Chiapas/Mexico,
Berlin/Germany, USA and France. This first compilation was shown at
demonstrations, political events, university seminars and

“this is not war” – film work on the issue of war & the ‘normality’ of war
We have discussed films like “Who hangs the laundry, washing, war and
electricity in Beirut” (by Tina Naccache and Hrafnhildur
Gunnarsdottir), "Asurot“ (“detained" by Anat Aven and Ada Ushpiz),
“News Time” (by Azza El Hassan) or “Queer Documentary in Wartime: A
New View of the Israeli Palestinian Crisis” (by Ellen Flanders) as
rare examples which show the everyday life or the ‘normality’ of war
from a personal point of view of women.
In “Who hangs the laundry, washing, war and electricity in Beirut”
Tina Naccache is tells us about war while she is washing her clothes
– a series of actions which is influenced by the shortage of water
and electricity as an effect of the war in Beirut:
“People who haven’t gone through a war think that war is when shells
are falling on people’s heads and people are being killed. This is
not war, this is just the beginning of war. War is when the canons
have stopped, where there is no more violence against individuals,
when there are no more buildings being destroyed, where there is no
more fear and one looks around and sees what’s left over from the
war. This is war, the leftover of what we think is war.”

In “Asurot” three Palestinian women live in a house in Hebron: the
front part of the house belongs to Israel, the back part to the
Palestinian autonomous territory. The Israelian soldiers force their
way into the house whenever they like to and the women have to deal
with the permanent presence of the soldiers. In “News Time” Azza El
Hassan talks about Ramallah being a point of media interest. She
shows the presence of lots of different tv-teams and -cameras. Her
film describes how this effects
her work as a filmmaker, the conflict itself and the construction of
masculinity of the young Palestinian participants of the fights
against Israel. In “Queer Documentary in Wartime: A New View of the
Israeli Palestinian Crisis” (a documentary-in-progress) we hear how
the ways queer Palestinians and Israelis live their lesbian and gay
identities collide with the situation of occupation.
Through these conflicts is thematized, what ‘war’ means. And Ellen
Flanders connects the reflection of her own family story with her
critique on the current situation in Israel and Palestine.

Videoletters can provide a means to document projects or political
actions, to make
statements or to analyse daily life.

Questions that we’re asking ourselves
In consideration of the urgency of war, what happens to the feminist
and lesbian structures, projects and networks we rely on? What
happens to the desires to create different practices and ways of
"In a moment of global crisis people don't know why they should care
about queer politics, about transgenderism and so on and it makes our
concerns seem as if they are petty. They are not and they need to be
folded into these anti-war-agendas. But we have to make explicit the
ways in which queer politics and anti-war politics and anti-capitalist
politics work together. And i think in many ways that’s sort of a big
Judith Halberstam, San Diego, USA, videoletter-videoclip

The videoletters could connect the ‚normality’ of war and
globalization with the agendas of feminist or queer politics. They
offer an opportunity to develop a network where we can exchange our
differing standpoints. In the places where the videos are shown they
could also function as a feminist statement against war.
In our group we have different ideas of “feminism”, “women’s
perspectives”, “queer or
lesbian/gay/transgender issues”. Some of us understand videoletters
as a project, where women from different parts of the world exchange
their differing experiences, analysis or ideas of resistance.
Others understand a feminist analysis as one, which makes visible
experiences or standpoints systematically concealed in the media and
political representation. Or there is an interest in the question how
war and globalization produce and construct special kinds of gender-
or sexual positions and relations. Some want to find out, how a
genderspecific division of labour and sexualised violence are related
to war, the military and nationalism. Anne from Berlin is especially
interested to hear from Tejal and Natasha from Bombay about their
experiences with these issues, related to the
religious-fundamentalistic motivated genocid in Gujarat. And Nadja
would like to hear
from Ana and the women from Mexico how this may be related to Chiapas
with its ongoing low intensity war. When we speak about “queer”
perspectives we want to address a common critique of sexism,
heterosexism, homophobia, transphobia and racism, which for some of
us is covered by this term.
We would like to begin an exchange of interests and questions between
the participants of the videoletters project.

How can you participate?
The videoletters should be between 1 and 15 minutes in length. The
character of a video as a “letter” may be a starting point to think
about the format of your videos which could be addressed to women in
all regions of the world or addressed to women in a specific region.
We think it would be also a nice idea if we all showed ourselves in
our videoletters – as it is interesting for all of us to get to know
the makers, the “senders” of the videoletters. We copy all the
videoletters, put them together in one compilation and then send them
back to the original senders (which means that you get all
videoletters made). Each author of a videoletter decides in what
context she wants to show the videoletters (at political events,
festivals, exhibitions, feminist meetings, cinemas

All videoletters belong to all the women who contribute their work!

The first screening date is the World Social Forum in Bombay/Mumbai,
India on January 16 – 21, 2004. We could either meet there or/and
organize local screenings during the time of the forum.
Women who are part in the organization of the upcoming world social
forum want to discuss more feminist issues than it has been the case
in the last forums in Porto Alegre. Therefore we think it would be a
good idea to support this wish to change the focus of this critique
on globalization in a way which includes gender- and sexual politics.
In advance of the forum some women in Mumbai will organize a 2-3 days
long international queer & feminist meeting and during the forum they
provide a queer space and a film festival on gender and sexual plurality.

A non-funded project
The project ‘women videoletters’ hasn’t received any funding yet.
Some of us think that it is better to work on this project without
official money and be independent in a political and artistic sense.
After consideration however, we are in the process of trying to get
at least some money for those who can’t do a videoletter without
financial support and for costs of material. But since it is
difficult here to get money for a feminist film-project and for a
project quite open in form and content, we can’t promise that we will
succeed in this. If some of you have access to funding please get in
with us.

If you want to participate in the project, here’s some further information:
Write a note to telling you want to participate. And send your
comments and ideas concerning the project and the issues mentioned.
Please send your tapes (preferably: miniDV, DV-Cam, Beta SP,
otherwise VHS) before November 15th, 2003 so we can manage to send
the sample of videoletters back to you by the end of December 2003.
Please send one original version plus the transcript and the written
English translation – and, if possible, also a version with English
If you cannot produce a videoletter this time but you are interested
in the project, please write us a note anyway!

Send your videoletters to the following address:
(please mark the package: no commercial value!)
Videoletters c/o Frisius, Lausitzer Str. 9, 10999 Berlin, Germany

This invitation comes together with a videoclip (if you haven’t got
it yet, please send us a mail and we will send you the clip as CD or

All our best, from Berlin,
Renate Lorenz, Malou Bülow, Nadja Damm, Karin Kasböck,
Christine Lamberty, Tania Eichler, Karin Michalski and Anne Frisius

the project is open to all interested women/groups.
but we will start by sending this letter to:

Black Laundry/LGBT-group against occupation/Claudia Levin, video
activist/filmmaker, Israel
Tina Naccache, urban planer, video activist / ngo which supports
migrant women, Beirut
Hrafnhildur Gunnarsdottir, Filmmaker, Island
Gayten-LGBT, Center for Promotion of LGBT Human Rights, Belgrad
Simin Farkhondeh, filmmaker, video activist, New York
Azza El Hassan, filmmaker, Ramallah/Palastine
Gülsün Karamustafa, visual artist, Istanbul
Alejandra Riera, visual artist, filmmaker, Paris
Carole Roussopoulos, feminist activist, filmmaker, Switzerland
Judith Halberstam, queer/transgender theorist, San Diego/USA
Sabiha Sumar, filmmaker, Pakistan/India
Osnat Bar-Or, video activist, filmmaker, works with a media group in
Palastine, Israel
Anja, women in black, Belgrad
Sunccica Vaccai, filmmaker, Belgrad
Deepa Dhanraj, filmmaker, video activist, India
Hanna Smitmans, video activist, Amsterdam
Ana Hernández, videoactivist and filmmaker, Chiapas, Mexico
Women video collective of San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico
Tejal Shah, Natasha Mendonca, political activists, visual artists,
Bombay, India
Madhusree Dutta, political activst, filmmaker, Bombay, India
Liz Miller, filmmaker, USA
Ellen Flanders, filmmaker, Canada
Mai Masri, filmmaker, Lebanon
Shahla Asad, RAWA-activist, Pakistan
Lorie and Les Penéelopes, Paris, France

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