Experimental Filmmaker Kelly Gallagher Visits Oberlin

By Lucy Kaminsky | lkaminsk@oberlin.edu | March 9, 2018 @ 5:30 pm

On February 27th, the Cinema Studies department hosted an event featuring filmmaker Kelly Gallagher. The screening comprised of seven of Gallagher’s short films, each ranging from two to twenty minutes long. Gallagher’s films, which utilize collage and other experimental methods, focus on left revisionist history and the artist’s own personal life. During her introduction, Gallagher described the films as being both “diaristic” and working against systems of “racism, exploitation, capitalism, imperialism, patriarchy, and colonialism”. Gallagher said she was especially influenced by Lizzy Borden’s Born In Flames, a 1983 futuristic dystopian film that follows a group of radical feminist rebels in the context of an alternative socialist American government.

Though she never took an animation class, Gallagher now uses the medium in all her films. She uses the term “animation as resurrection” to describe her method of using animation to bring attention to overlooked histories and personal stories.

Gallagher got her BA from Penn State and her MFA at the University of Iowa. She currently teaches media arts at Antioch College. One of the films shown at the screening was The Herstory of the Female Filmmaker, a documentary about female filmmakers that Gallagher created her senior of college after realizing how little her fellow classmates knew about the history of women in cinema. In Do You Want to Go for a Drive?, the second film shown at the screening, Gallagher grapples with issues of consent in the context of a real-life relationship. She continues to examine her life in My Gossip, her newest film, which is about friendship, her best friend, and what they mean to each other.

Some of her other films, such as FROM ALLY TO ACCOMPLICE and More Dangerous Than a Thousand Rioters, are more historically oriented. In FROM ALLY TO ACCOMPLICE, Gallagher revisits the raid at Harper’s Ferry, focusing on the journey of Quaker Iowan brothers Barclay and Edwin Coppoc. Lucy Parsons, Black female labor organizer and radical activist, is the subject of More Dangerous Than a Thousand Rioters. In this film, Gallagher chronicles Parsons’ involvement in several progressive movements, including a history of political actions that led the Chicago Police Department to call her “more dangerous than a thousand rioters”.

Currently, Gallagher is working on a digital zine project called “HERE WE ARE: The History of Experimental Cinema”. HERE WE ARE chronicles a history of women, non-binary, trans, and genderqueer filmmakers. Gallagher invites anyone to add names to the list of filmmakers or to create a zine page for the project.

For more information on Kelly Gallagher or to take part in HERE WE ARE, go purpleriot.com

Contact contributing writer Lucy Kaminsky at lkaminsk@oberlin.edu.

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