agnès films is named in honor of Agnès Varda, the French filmmaker who has been making women-centered fiction films and documentaries for over 50 years. Varda, in spite of the high quality of her work, remains an obscure figure to mainstream audiences around the world. This is not surprising, since the film industry is not always supportive of women who want to work behind—as opposed to in front of—the camera. According to the 2015 Celluloid Ceiling report, women comprised only 17% of directors, producers, writers, cinematographers, and editors in the 250 top-grossing films of 2014. This is exactly the same percentage as it was in 1998, when Dr. Martha Lauzen began keeping track of women’s presence in film.
In an effort to provide support to emerging and established women and feminist filmmakers, our site aims to do the following:
• Foster a community of women filmmakers, scholars, instructors who teach film and filmmaking, and film lovers who support each other. We hope to be joined by men who are interested in films made by women, as well as male filmmakers, scholars, and filmmaking/film instructors. Our aim is for our community to be diverse in terms of race, class, and sexual orientation.
• Shed light on the work of talented and committed women and feminist filmmakers working today, who, like Varda, don’t have the visibility they merit. We do this in the form of reviews of films made by women and less often films by men featuring women in prominent roles. We also have interviews with women filmmakers and through our featured member section we share narratives of the experiences women undergo as they stand behind the camera. We also discuss the history of women and feminist filmmakers through our critical analyses of past and current films.
• Help women not trained in cinematic techniques be able to tell stories in this powerful medium.
• Create video content that explores women’s experiences behind the camera and engages non-filmmakers in the issue of supporting women’s films and videos.
agnès films is made possible through the generous help and support of Michigan State University’s Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures and the College of Arts and Letters. Although our board and staff come from around the world, we have a number of members of both groups who are faculty, graduate and undergraduate students at Michigan State. Without them and the university’s support our community would not flourish in the way it has over the years.
Thank you for visiting! Our staff welcomes you.
Alexandra Hidalgo, editor-in-chief, cofounder
Alexandra is an Assistant Professor of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures at Michigan State University, where she teaches courses on filmmaking, rhetoric, and professional writing. She is a documentary filmmaker whose work deals with female-centric topics, such as motherhood, nursing, immigration, and raising bilingual children. Her films have screened at film festivals in the U.S., India, England, and Indonesia, among other countries, and at university film series across the U.S. Her video work has been featured on IndieWire, NPR, Raising Films, and Literacy & NCTE and her video essays have been published on academic journals like Enculturation, Itineration, Peitho, and Present Tense.
Denah A. Johnston, experimental and fringe film editor
Denah is an experimental filmmaker who received her MFA in Filmmaking from the San Francisco Art Institute and Ph.D. in Media & Communications from European Graduate School. She teaches film history, studies and theory at San Francisco City College and served as Executive Director of Canyon Cinema Foundation for 3 years. Her academic work lies at the constellation-like intersections of film, music, literature, media and culture. Denah’s first book No Future Now: A Nomadology of Resistance and Subversion was published in 2012 by Atropos Press. A recent essay on the innovation and influence of Benjamin Christensen’s Häxan (The Witch) (1922) can be seen in a special edition of the Abraxas Journal The Luminous Screen edited by Jack Sargeant. Denah’s current research focuses on the female filmmakers of Canyon Cinema.
Sabrina Hirsch, assistant editor, graphic designer
Sabrina is a senior at Michigan State University double majoring in Social Relations and Policy and Professional Writing. This past summer she worked as the social media intern with the Smithsonian Associates. She has worked on research examining the relationship between the duration of and ability to take maternity leave and breastfeeding, specifically focusing on how type of work and industry impact this relationship as well as maternal and child health. Specifically, she looked at the differences in duration maternity leave and breastfeeding outcomes between salaried and hourly employees and full time and part time employees, as well as the resources and facilities available to breastfeeding mothers at their places of work. She has also managed social media for the MSU College Democrats and for a local digital communications firm.
Elena Cronick, assistant editor and staff writer
Elena Cronick is a senior at Michigan State University majoring in Professional Writing and minoring in Film Studies. She currently works at MSU Human Resources as a communications and marketing intern, and she previously worked at The State News as the copy chief. She has experience in video production and is interested in fiction filmmaking and screenwriting.
Hannah Countryman, web editor and graphic designer
A student at Michigan State University, Hannah studies Professional Writing and Experience Architecture. She has done work in communications and design, and currently works as a web accessibility specialist at the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and as a web editor for agnès films. She is also interested in photography and digital photo manipulation.
Jessica Kukla, social media specialist, graphic designer
I am a junior at Michigan State University studying Professional Writing on a Publishing and Editing track and minoring in documentary production.
Lindsey is an undergraduate student in Professional Writing, minoring in Documentary Production at Michigan State University. She has collaborated as a cinematographer on various short projects by Alexandra Hidalgo and worked as assistant editor and interviewer on the short documentary Science in Stillettos: Exploring the Truth of Gender Difference in the Field of Engineering. She currently works at MSU’s Infrastructure Planning and Facilities and in the Communications Department, where she is the student coordinator making
Laura is a Ph.D. student at Michigan State University, where she focuses on digital and cultural rhetorics. She was recently appointed as a graduate fellow for the Sweetland Digital Rhetoric Collaborative, where she helps coordinate projects around digital rhetoric, pedagogy, and digital publishing. Laura is interested in multilingualism and multimodality, and is currently researching the ways in which multimodal projects like videos influence translation in writing pedagogy. More broadly, she’s interested in intersections of language and technology. Before coming to MSU, Laura worked as a full-time instructor in the Department of Writing and Rhetoric at the University of Central Florida, where she also earned her MA in Rhetoric and Composition. She is originally from Santa Cruz, Bolivia, and looks forward to traveling home at least once a year.
Katie is an undergraduate student at Michigan State University studying Professional Writing and Religious Studies. She has worked as an undergraduate researcher in the Digital Humanities and Literary Cognition lab (DHLC), working on a key team for a new fMRI study of literary reading. She has also completed participatory memory research in London and Paris. Currently the managing editor of Exceptions Journal—a creative journal for students with visual disabilities—Katie plans to work as an editor upon graduation. Her interests include publishing, digital humanities, social media, film, and the intersections of feminism and religion.
Shewonda is a Haitian-American filmmaker and a Ph.D. student in Rhetoric and Writing at Michigan State University. Her research touches on cultural and Haitian/African?American rhetorics, representations of black bodies, identity, feminism, and Womanism. As a documentary filmmaker she explores minority experiences/stories in the United States. Shewonda’s first film Fixing The Standard: The Black Women’s Reclamation Of Power explores how black women take risks and learn from their experiences of defining and embodying their own standards of beauty when choosing to embrace their natural hair. Her current projects are a video memoir that tracks her transition from M.A. student to Ph.D. student while learning what it takes to be a filmmaker, and a short film about Haitian-American children passing as African-American in the United States.
Ruth received her B.A. in Art History at London’s Courtauld Institute, then her MFA in Fine Art Film at St. Martins School of Art. She has been an experimental/avant-garde filmmaker since the 1980s, making short collage videos and documentaries. Since the late 90s she has taught video production at the University of Westminster and film appreciation, world cinema, and film noir at Regents American College London. She has published two DVD collections: Selected Works 1990-2005 and Radio (with a text by Chris Kraus). She has lived and worked in New York, Tel Aviv, and London and has exhibited nationally and internationally. She is currently completing a PhD by practice at the University of Westminster.
Moira Sullivan is a scholar, lecturer, film critic, promoter, and experimental filmmaker based in San Francisco and Stockholm. She teaches at City College of San Francisco in the Cinema Department and has a PhD in cinema studies from Stockholm University. She did graduate film studies at San Francisco State University and is one of the world’s experts on the work of the avantgarde and ethnographic filmmaker Maya Deren (1917-1961). She has been invited to universities and art schools honoring Deren in Italy, France,Germany, Sweden, and the USA. She contributed to the anthology “Maya Deren and the American Avant-Garde” (2001). Moira has worked professionally as a film critic since 2000, focusing on the work of women in film. She also specializes in Asian and arthouse/experimental film. She is a member of FIPRESCI (Federation of International Film Critics) and an established accredited film critic at film festivals in Cannes, Venice, Stockholm, Udi
Danielle Winston is a writer/director fascinated by what remains unseen in the shadows. Her screenplays feature complicated unusual female characters. Hands of Fate, Winston’s short thriller film-turned-web-series, also inspired a television series and feature screenplay about three women who form a dangerous secret pact. Other current projects include Love In Reverse, a feature screenplay, told backwards that reveals itself like a mystery of human nature. Theatrically, Winston is a produced playwright, whose stage plays have won audience choice awards. She believes the demons we conjure up in our own minds are far more terrifying than anything shown onscreen. Whether writing psychological thrillers or romantic comedy-dramas, her screenplays are interwoven with a dark sneaky sense of humor. Driven by what lurks beneath the surface of characters and their lives, reoccurring elements in Winston’s screenplays include artists and supernatural happenings. Living in New York City provides Winston with an unstoppable source of cinematic inspiration. Usually Manhattan’s backdrop springs to life as a vivid character in her works. She also writes for children, her fantastical picture book series, Betsy Green Bean, is about a witch who has a magical adventure.
Former Editors and Staff Writers
Caitlan Spronk, co-founder and web developer, 2010-2014.
Shannon Roe-Buttler, web editor, 2014.
Les Hutchinson, reviewer, 2014–2015.
LeeAnn Connelly, web editor, 2015.
Rebecca Zantjer, reviewer, 2014–2015.
Shell Little, web editor, graphic designer, 2015–2016
Kim Labick, social media intern, 2015
Savannah Smith, video team director and editor, social media team, 2015–2016
Sarah Shaw, video team audio recorder and mixer, social media team