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Houston Breakthrough, Vol. 3, No. 4, May 1978
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Houston Breakthrough, Vol. 3, No. 4, May 1978 - Page 3. May 1978. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. February 18, 2020. https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/5723/show/5716.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

(May 1978). Houston Breakthrough, Vol. 3, No. 4, May 1978 - Page 3. Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/5723/show/5716

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

Houston Breakthrough, Vol. 3, No. 4, May 1978 - Page 3, May 1978, Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters, Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries, accessed February 18, 2020, https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/5723/show/5716.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

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Title Houston Breakthrough, Vol. 3, No. 4, May 1978
Publisher Breakthrough Publishing Co.
Date May 1978
Subject.Topical (LCSH)
  • Women
  • Periodicals
  • Feminism--United States--Periodicals
  • Newsletters
Subject.Geographic (TGN)
  • Houston, Texas
Genre (AAT)
  • periodicals
Language English
Type (DCMI)
  • Text
  • Image
Original Item Location HQ1101 .B74
Original Item URL http://library.uh.edu/record=b2332724~S11
Digital Collection Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters
Digital Collection URL http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist
Repository Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
Repository URL http://info.lib.uh.edu/about/campus-libraries-collections/special-collections
Use and Reproduction Educational use only, no other permissions given. Copyright to this resource is held by the content creator, author, artist or other entity, and is provided here for educational purposes only. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without written permission of the copyright owner. For more information please see UH Digital Library Fair Use policy on the UH Digital Library About page.
File Name index.cpd
Item Description
Title Page 3
Format (IMT)
  • image/jpeg
File Name femin_201109_540c.jpg
Transcript Breakthrough Roots: an interview with founder Janice Blue Photos by Marilyn Marshall Jones by Barbara Karkabi "I never thought women would have their own presses-I think all this activity by women is going to make a very interesting, well-balanced culture..." AnasisNin (1973) Q: Tell me something about your background, so that we can understand what led to Breakthrough? A: Somewhere in the mid-60's I discovered films or rather foreign films. During the day I worked at the Library of Congress film archives and evenings I went to the Circle Theatre. 12 tickets for $10. Double features. The Last Laugh and Knife in the Water. Jules and Jim and Boudu Saved from Drowning. That was my social life. If I wasn't seeing films, I was reading about them. I was really impressed by these films. They were simple pure, human, and black and white. And I wanted to make films like them. So I quit my job, sold everything but my skis, and traveled across Europe for a year. I wanted to study at the Lodz Polish Film School, but it was extremely costly ($3000 American dollars) and besides they couldn't understand why I didn't want to go to UCLA which, as they pointed out, was next to Hollywood. They were into Howard Hawks, I think. I taught at a Polish university in Krakow, instead, and when I returned to the states, I first worked for a company that selected documentary films for film festivals and later in the American Film Institute's (AFI) film grant program. We would screen 500 films quarterly. Few women even applied, much less received money. We saw a lot of self- indulgent films and I saw a lot of money going to the already established male film directors. Looking back, I'm sure my sense of injustice had roots here—but it was still only 1968. Later that year I married'a documentary filmmaker whose work I respected but he insisted on our having separate careers. I was crushed. I really wanted to work with him. I must have thought, how else will I learn to make films? Q: How did you finally come to make your own films? A: The 1970's came. Even though I was not in the women's movement, it gave me the courage to try on my own. And because I chose to do films about women, there was no longer a career conflict with my husband. So I started with a film on my grandmother. Some called her the general and did not mean it as a compliment. To me, she was the matriarch. Soon after, she had a stroke. I remember thinking my film is the only record of her life. I began to see the importance of documentation. Women were ignored in written history. I was afraid we wouldn't have a visual one, either. And it was getting clearer to me that if women filmmakers didn't do films about women—no one else would. So, when the National Women's Political Caucus held its first political convention of this century downtown at the Rice Hotel—which, incidentally, had a policy against the paging of women in the hotel lobby-I got it all on film—including an interview with the hotel's convention coordinator. They fired her because they blamed her for the news leak on the paging policy. Caucus is the only record of that event. Q: Didn't television cover it? A: The networks were there and they got their 30 second packages for the nightly news. But it was interesting to observe what they chose to shoot. They were waiting for the dramatic. So when Bella Abzug rose to take over the microphone from the chair during a lengthy debate over proxy voting, they jumped up and got that. When one faction rose to protest the election of Sissy Farenthold as the new chair of the NWPC, they got that, too. So every night of my life when I'm told, And that's the way it is, I want to shout, That's the way it is to you, Walter. I filmed hours of the debates and speeches. I felt the outtakes were important for a women's archive. There were 3,000 women. I kept thinking no one else is recording this. Where is our sense of our own history? I saw the conflicts as the beginning of our political dialog with each other. Sometimes we were disagreeing strongly, but the lines were opening up. How healthy, I thought. Q: But you were, nevertheless, recording the conflict. Could someone not say you were airing the dirty linen? A: Some close to the convention did—I'm sure for them it was painful to watch and it was still too recent history-but I felt by giving context to the conflict, it would be understood why, for example, at one point in a heated debate, Bella took over as chair. Isolated, it must have looked as a take-over whereas, in context, she was merely assisting the chair in the interest of calming the turmoil. I showed the film around the country, at many universities, and once at a conference on ethnographic films at the Smithsonian. The audience is always impressed at the vitality, the intelligence, and the seriousness of these women. Not just the super stars of the movement, but the grass roots women. That's what I wanted to show. Q: What other films did you do? A: Caucus led to a film on Sissy Farenthold's 1974 primary race for governor. Interestingly, we could not get the project funded. We had an excellent proposal and even a letter of recommendation from screenwriter Eleanor Perry but the AFI turned it down. Finally, the two women who conceived the film, raised their own funds. I provided the 16 mm film equipment and filmed the project. It was recently completed. I understand it has been on public television in Los Angeles. And Sissy told me Sweden bought TV rights to it. Q: So there's an example of something that wouldn't have been made unless women did it. A: That's right. It deserved to be funded. Q: At what point did you join the feminist movement? A: Somewhere in that period between films. Around 1974. You see the media did a good job on me, too, or I would have joined years before, but I formed my image of what a feminist was by what I saw on television. In all the guerilla activities women came across raving mad. They looked violent. So I thought- who needs that? Several times I would drive up to a NOW meeting only to come back home. Finally, I thought this is ridiculous. These women are on the front lines- they've broken down barriers for me-I want to give something back to the movement. It had to be in the media, that was all I knew. The first project I coordinated was a Film Festival of Women Directors at the Rice Media Center. Every Sunday night for a semester I scheduled one documentary and one feature film. If you had asked any film student or film buff to name a woman director, they'd probably say Ida Lupino. Or Agnes Varda. But we introduced them to Dorothy Arzner, Vera Chytilova, Maya Deren and dozens of documentary filmmakers of the 70's. Q: Your activities in the media reform movement have included more than film. Tell us about television. A: Television has such impact on our attitudes about ourselves and other women. Just think of the early TV role models- Lucille Ball, Dagmar . . . thank God we finally got Barbara Walters. There were no women anchors, few women news reporters. Daytime programming is still abysmal. It has hardly changed in 30 years. Hysterical women jumping up and down on the quiz shows. Hysterical women dying of mysterious diseases on the soaps. How are we to get a good self-image from all that? In the early 70's I was visiting a friend of mine in Montreal who worked for the French television network. I couldn't believe it! They had a one-hour daily women's news program. From three to four. The caliber of the programming amazed me. My friend was working on a 10-part series on racism in Quebec province. They budgeted this program like we do our six o'clock news. I kept thinking, oh, my God, back home Joanne King is the queen of Houston television. Now, the station has Nancy Ames. The same old fluff. They've added a 6:30 a.m. morning show that's more of the same. They're still talking about how to bake the perfect pie crust every time. And it's 1978! I can't understand it! I know there is no feminist streak in the management at Channel 2 but the owners are socially-aware people. Why don't they do something? Please turn to page 7 Staff Paid - Does not apply Unpaid - Maxine Atlas, Janice Blue, Gabrielle Cosgriff, Anita Davidson, Deborah Diamond Hicks, Elizabeth Hughes, Marilyn Marshall Jones, Barbara Karkabi, Nancy Kern, Marianne Warfield Kostakis, Charley Kubricht, Nancy Landau, Lynne Mutchler, Gary Allison Morey, Sharman Petri, Candace Richter, Ernie Shawver, Loretta Standard, Kath leen Williamson, Red Zenger, Ruth Barrett Cover photo by Gary Allison Morey Second-class postage paid at Houston, Texas. Houston Breakthrough is published monthly (except for the bi-monthly issues of July- August ana December-January) by the Breakthrough Publishing Company, 1708 Rosewood, Houston, TX 77004; P.O. Box 88072, Houston, TX 77004; Tel. 713/526-6686. Subscriptions are $7 per year, newsstand 75 cents per copy. This publication is on file at the International Women's History Archive in the Special Collections Library, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL 60201. HOUSTON BREAKTHROUGH MAY 1978