This is our second episode in a row with a guest! This week we welcome Indian filmmaker Arati Kadav whose Hindi-language SF Cargo was our more recent #WomenMakeSF film, which is notably the first Indian SF genre film directed by a woman. We are so excited to have the writer and director here to answer our questions! Cargo combines references to lots of key SF texts and a retro-futuristic analog aesthetic, with a distinctly Indian narrative that places reincarnation in a science fictional setting. We think about why women are often led to producing original low-budget content rather than also being allowed into the realms of franchise, and why women deserve their own science fictions. Women read, write, watch, play, and make science fiction - why can’t we shake the stereotype?
This week’s episode is our first look at the work of the Wachowski sisters - Lily and Lana - who are the most prolific SF creators on the WMSF list with their work expanding across several platforms. We watched Jupiter Ascending (Wachowskis) - our first screening since September - and are both avid fans of Sense8. We are joined this week by our special guest science fiction critic, writer, editor, and publisher Cheryl Morgan. After a run of fairly serious space and science/fiction films we wanted to watch some pure space opera - but this is a Wachowski storyworld it was never going to be that simple...
This week we are talking about women in space. How have space movies imagined women’s participation in space exploration and travel? Our cultural imaginaries have not always made space for women in space - despite the early SF positioning of women as part of humanity’s journey to the stars, much of contemporary SF see women as support for the male mastery of technologies and machines. We talk about #WomenMakeSF movies Aniara a Swedish SF directed by Pella Kågerman and Hugo Lilja, Claire Denis’ English language debut High Life alongside key examples like Gravity, Interstellar, and Alien.
This week we are looking at the film Paradise Hills and Level 16 both films are set at dystopian finishing schools where being the perfect girl is the goal. These young women are trapped in the trappings of femininity and sacrificed in the pursuit of an apparent notion of female perfection. We discuss this in relation to a recent TIME article that argues that women's genre filmmaking is “about women’s deepest anxieties”. Content warning: discussion of rape culture and violence against women.
Guest Katie Heffner is a PhD student at the University of Kent, supervised by Prof. Charlotte Sleigh, researching women’s participation in fandom in the early 20th century. She received a Masters in Library and Information Science with a concentration on digital archives at the University of Iowa in 2019. Her honors thesis for her Bachelors degree in English Literature explores how fandom practices such as fanzines can be used within classrooms.
The sea merges myth and science - both a source of deep fear (and thus myth) and massive rewards (and thus science). In SF the oceans can be a space of imagined futures, a frontier, and a dangerous yet bountiful environment. We noticed a trend in the women directed movies we have been watching that focus around the theme of the sea and water, so this episode explores the sea in women made SF and the mythic connection between science, the sea, and female experiences.
We take a break from film to gab about our favorite women-created SF TV (which, given how short the list is, is all of them): Emergence, Vagrant Queen, Sense8, Killjoys!, Westworld, and Altered Carbon, with a little Roswell, iZombie, Russian Doll, Jessica Jones, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
What is SF? Why "SF" and not "scifi"? In this episode we follow up on the ideas from the opening episode as we debate what really qualifies as science fiction. We also discuss our first three watch party movies: Welcome II the Terrordome (dir. Ngozi Onwurah, 1993), Tank Girl (dir. Rachel Talalay, 1995), and Évolution (dir. Lucile Hadzihalilovic, 2015).
In our inaugural episode, we introduce you to us as your hosts, and the project itself: where it came from, what it is, and where we expect it to go.
Intro/Outro music: Inspire Glitches (2017) by Yuriy Shishlov (CC-BY-NC-SA)