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Time and Time again: Women & the Law Collective preview

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Time and Time again: Cinenova and Women & the Law Collective is an exhibition by Cinenova, a volunteer run feminist film and video distributor currently based at LUX, Waterlow Park. This exhibition opens Sunday 19th November and runs until 16th December 2017. Across the four weeks Cinenova will exhibit the work produced by Women & the Law Collective in 1986, alongside a programme of talks and screenings. The films will provide a point of departure for further research, both into the historical aspects of the films’ production and the wider work of Women & the Law Collective; and more broadly the potential for film as a collective tool against state systems of oppression and discrimination.

The three films attributed to Women & the Law Collective are Time and Time Again with Nina Ward, Women in Prison & the Black Female Prisoner’s Scheme, Who Takes the Rap – Immigration with Lai Ngan Walsh and The Life and Hard Times of Susie P Winklepicker with Deborah Hall. This incredible body of work, all produced in the space of one year, explored the state of the UK legal system and its means of control through prisons, immigration law and forced economic dependency to maintain race, class, and gender hierarchies.

Starting from the act of exhibiting the three films as a working process that aims to join up with conversations taking place in the UK today, we ask how these collective projects can be used in response to, and alongside, renewed calls for fundamental change? The exhibition will include a programme of public events and meetings that relate to both specific and wider topics: the closing down of HM Prison Holloway and those fighting for the 8-acre site to be used for collective good, the work and resistance around the prison industrial complex, UK detention centres and the continuing alterations to the British welfare state.

In addition Cinenova will present related ephemera, archival materials and films from the Cinenova collection connected to the issues at stake.

Time and Time Again – Women in Prison by Nina Ward, Women and The Law Collective,UK,1986,35mins

Time and Time again – Women in Prison focuses on the lives of women in prison through interviews with four ex-prisoners. It looks at the offences women commit and the reasons why they commit them. It examines the realities of everyday life in prison – the violence, the racism, the forced medication. It explains why women go back: the feelings of worthlessness, of losing confidence and institutionalisation. Finally TIME AND TIME AGAIN shows the need for organisations like Women in Prison and the Black Female Prisoners Scheme which give help and support to women inside and aid the slow process of building a new life outside.

Who Takes The Rap – Immigration by Lai Ngan Walsh, Women and The Law Collective, UK, 1986, 38mins

Who Takes The Rap – Immigration covers the history of immigration law in Britain from 1903 to the present day. The tape describes how different groups of immigrants arrived for work in the UK, only to find increasingly restrictive laws which kept them in low-paid, unskilled work and identified them as ‘undesirable’. Footage of the Garners’ Steak House strike and the Grunwick strike is included to show how these workers fought back against racism. Specific laws are examined and the tape includes interviews with a number of immigrant women. The voices of two women ‘rappers’ provide the commentary throughout, and the story of one woman’s experience in trying to bring her son into Britain runs intermittently through the tape, reinforcing its theme.

The Life and Hard Times of Susie P. Winklepicker by Deborah Hall, Women and The Law Collective, UK, 1986, 35mins

A part-dramatised, often humorous, documentary showing some of the ways the state and the system have pushed women into economic dependence on men in different historical periods, the fights waged against this and the situation at the present time. The tape deals with social security law, relating to the Poor Law during the nineteenth century, as well as the recent Social Security Act (in 1986 still only a set of proposals), and with various aspects of work and marriage as affected by the law. It is more of a starting point for discussion than a means of getting across detailed information about legal rights.

Cinenova is run by a voluntary working group dedicated to the constellation of films, histories and politics that make up Cinenova, believing in the necessity of keeping the collection together and autonomous, rather than dispersed into larger and more general archives or distributors. Time and Time Again at Waterlow Park is organised by the London members of the working group and intends to make public and urgent Cinenova’s actual situation with regard to its ability to preserve, promote and distribute the work in the collection.

If you would like to get in touch directly in connection to above research and work or if you have any information on the films being shown please contact info@cinenova.org

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