“What is the purpose of resisting corporate globalization if not to protect the obscure, the ineffable, the unmarketable, the unmanageable, the local, the poetic and the eccentric? So they need to be practiced, celebrated and studied too, right now.” Rebecca Solnit
I'm a UK-based writer, editor, educator and activist with a passionate commitment to arts and social justice. I work with non-profit organisation English PEN and publish with independent presses Arc, Lark Books, Salt, Shearsman, IB Tauris, and Wallflower. With different hats, I am Poet in Residence at the Archive of the Now, a member of queer feminist film curation collective Club des Femmes, a lecturer in film at LCC and Queen Mary University of London, and a film journalist for Sight & Sound and The F-Word, where I focus on independent, experimental, and feminist films and film culture.
In my critical work, I explore the political potential of experimental literature and cinema, with an emphasis on feminist artists like Sally Potter, who is the subject of my first critical book The Cinema of Sally Potter: A Politics of Love. As well as teaching university courses on topics ranging from transgender cinema to Anne Carson, I've facilitated workshops for youth organisations like Leave Out Violence and taught creative writing at Anglia Ruskin University, King's College, London, and Middlesex University.
For workshops, creative consultancies, editorial or writing work, contact me at: sophie [at] sophiemayer [dot] net
Film feminism is a hot topic this autumn, with the release of SUFFRAGETTE, the Onwards and Outwards touring season of contemporary British women's indie cinema, which I blogged about for the ICA, and - of course - the November release of POLITICAL ANIMALS: THE NEW FEMINIST CINEMA. Launch details to come (and they will be as fabulous as the cover), but in the run-up, I'll be panelling, chairing & talking all over...
Friday 11th September: (in absentia) Babes-in-Arms/Directed by Women screening, Come Worry With Us! (Helene Klodawsky, 2014), Arthouse Crouch End, London, 10.30 am - hosted by Raising Films and Manish Agarwal
Friday 19th September: ScreenTalk with Sally Potter, The Gold Diggers (1982), Barbican, London, 5pm
Things are looking busy, with a combination of readings, screenings and global feminist revolution -- including running the awesome Raising Films crowdfunder to change the film industry for working parents. You can find me this summer at the following:
Weds 12th August: in discussion about women in film at Screen Social: W=M, Book Club, 7 pm
Fri 21st August: in discussion with Lynne Segal, Emma Dabiri and Clarissa Jacob at She's Beautiful When She's Angry (Mary Dore) screening, Rio Cinema, 6.30 pm, part of the London Feminist Film Festival
Sun 6th September: reading poetry at Cabaret Noir, The Central, TORONTO, 5-8 pm
Sat 12th September: reading poetry with Tonya Foster and Elizabeth Treadwell at Berl's Poetry Bookstore, NEW YORK, 7 pm
My third solo collection, (O), is out now from the wonderful Arc Publications, champions of the alternative and far-reaching in poetry. I'm very proud and honoured to be part of their list! You can buy the book directly from Arc with a celebration-of-publication discount. Thanks to Warwick Arts Centre for displaying the book so beautifully.
Extremely proud and excited to be a contributor to Feminisms: Diversity, Difference and Multiplicity in Contemporary Cinema, edited by Anna Backman Rogers and the legendary Laura Mulvey. I'll (nervously) be talking about my chapter on queer feminist film theory next Saturday, 25th April, 2.30, at Birkbeck Cinema in London. The event is FREE, but do reserve a place.
The following Friday 1st May, 7pm, I'll be at the Horse Hospital in London, co-hosting Club des Femmes' and Verso Books night of films and conversation for the re-launch of Shulamith Firestone's Dialectic of Sex. It's sold out (!) but there are a few tickets available on the door. We'll be screening Elisabeth Subrin's SHULIE (1997), and I interviewed her for The F-Word, online soon.
On Wednesday May 6th, 7pm, I'll be at the QUAD in Derby, at the Film Festival, taking part in a Sight & Sound panel on female film critics - I'll be talking about the brilliant bell hooks, who I wrote about for S&S here.
In October, I interviewed Clare Stewart, the British Film Institute's Director of Festivals, for Sight & Sound, about the dramatic increase in the representation of female-identified directors across the festival – and subsequently read Nick James' editorial in S&S Nov 2014 proferring a "modest invitation" to women writers to correct the magazine's gender imbalance. Result? An open letter, penned by myself and Ania Ostrowska, with 80 signatories, and a comment piece calling for a more ambitious and cohesive plan to end the "chilly climate" for women in film criticism and reflect the plenitude of feminist and female-identified filmmaking. What happens next? Watch this space.
The amazing ADA & AFTER: WOMEN DO SCIENCE [FICTION] weekender begins tomorrow, Thurs 20th Nov, with a screening of cult classic TANK GIRL at the ICA – still the only studio superhero film with a female lead! I interviewed its amazing and inspiring director Rachel Talalay, hot off her back-to-back Dr. Who Season 8 finale episodes, about working with Courtney Love and Ice-T, hiring Catherine Hardwicke, and what she's up to next.
Very excited to be participating in the BFI's Days of Fear and Wonder science fiction season! As part of Club des Femmes, I'm co-curating the ADA & AFTER: WOMEN DO SCIENCE (FICTION) weekender, 20-23 November, at the ICA, the Electric Cinema Shoreditch and Hackney Picturehouse. With Tank Girl, Ada Lovelace, Björk, Lieutenant Uhura, Katniss Everdeen, Ottica Zero, Mary Shelley, co-dependent lesbian space aliens and Maisie the Space Dog all in attendance cinematically, we will also be joined by Bidisha, Liesel Schwartz, Campbell X, Nalo Hopkinson, Maja Borg, Sophie Robinson and Isabel Waidner. More special guests tba!
Two awesome events upcoming with Club des Femmes:
Fri 21-Sun 23 November: Women Do Science (Fiction), an ICA film weekender, part of the BFI's Days of Fear and Wonder season – during which I'll also be giving a talk about Born in Flames (Lizzie Borden) as part of the Afrofuturism weekender, and a BFI LIbrary talk (probably) titled "I'd Rather Be a Cyborg than a Goddess," about cyberfeminism and automatic women. Yep, fembots, handmaids, River vs. Reavers: all the good stuff.
And I'll also be at the BFI on Fri 1 Aug for We Could Be Heroes, the launch event for the Teenage Kicks season, where I'll be talking about lesbian girlhood and the importance of school washrooms to teen cinema and TV.
Sometimes, in the space between writing a piece and its and publication, its existence slips my mind.
19th February 2014 marks 20 years since the death of Derek Jarman, queer pagan punk filmmaker -- and poet. I'll be marking this anniversary at the London Review Bookstore, celebrating the (re)publication of Jarman's only poetry collection, A Finger in the Fishes Mouth, in a stunning facsimile edition from Test Centre. About eighteen months ago, I read the British Library's copy of the 1972 original publication, unaware it was one of only four copies in existence... and now (through my persuasive skills and the good agencies of Gareth Evans and Test Centre), it's back in print, with a short introduction by me, and beautiful epilogues by Tony Peake and Keith Collins. 700 copy limited edition -- and tickets for the event, which includes Tony, Keith and Ali Smith, are selling fast.