A Question of Choice

Sheffield Film Co-op

14/06 – 02/07/2023

A Question of Choice (18min., 1982) features a small group of low-paid women workers – two cleaners, a cook, a lollipop lady – and a male caretaker in a school in Walkley, Sheffield. The participants describe the limited employment choices available to women when family remains their first priority. While the work they do is hard and poorly paid, it does offer them flexibility, with hours that fit in with their family lives, as well as affording them close contact with the community and their children’s education. Beyond the work that they do in the school, these women run activities at a local community centre and organise events for children in the local area. Displaying some optimism about the way the women successfully organise community activities and support one another, the film raises particular questions that other women viewing the film might recognise in their own lives, with the aim of provoking discussion.” —Emma Hedditch

A Question of Choice is shown in the context of The Work We Share, a film program of ten newly digitized films from the Cinenova collection. Produced between 1972 and 1994, the films address oppositional histories and questions of difference through the lenses of gender, race, sexuality, health, and community.

The Work We Share gathers a number of films that previously existed in precarious conditions, in some cases, with negatives being lost or distribution film prints being the only copy. This program intends to acknowledge Cinenova’s interdependency: from organization to filmmakers, cultural workers, communities, and individuals. How can we acknowledge our interdependent relationships? How can we recognize our place in a network of communications, relationships, and resources, particularly as an un-funded volunteer organization? What different strains of labor does our work rely on? How do we sustain this work mutually?

Cinenova is a volunteer-run charity preserving and distributing the work of feminist film and video makers. It was founded in 1991 following the merger of two feminist film and video distributors, Circles and Cinema of Women, each formed in 1979. Cinenova currently distributes over 300 titles that include artists’ moving image, experimental film, narrative feature films, documentary, and educational videos made from the 1910s to the early 2000s.

Sheffield Film Co-op. In the early 1970s, the second women’s liberation movement was engaging in raising consciousness about issues women faced in their domestic and work lives. It was soon clear that there was a need to disseminate feminist ideas about the issues to a wider audience than those women already attending meetings. A small group of women with young children in Sheffield realized that film could be a powerful means of giving women the voice they did not have in the mainstream media. A Question of Choice was Sheffield Film Co-op’s fourth film, made in 1982 on 16mm with a crew of two and shown on projectors in community and adult education centers. With funding from Channel 4’s Independent Film and Video Department, SFC later went on to make films for broadcast and to help train new women filmmakers.

01Sheffield Film Co-op, A Question of Choice (still), 1982. Courtesy of the artists and Cinenova.



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