Feminism, Film & French: Dorothy Allen-Pickard
It was at the Hackney WickED festival, on a rare sun soaked London day that A Clodhopper met Dorothy Allen-Pickard. The meeting was fortuitous and accidental, performance artist Rebecca Korang had introduced us to a bohemian gathering happening beside the River Lea in East London. Organically musicians singers and passers by were taking part in a jam session that eventually carried on past sunset, Dorothy was sat with two friends, speaking fluent French relaxing on a living room couch part of an assortment of furniture brought out for the canalside music session. You couldn’t hope for a better setting to meet an unassuming award-winning documentary artist and filmmaker, member of Breach Theatre and co-editor of intersectional feminist film journal Another Gaze. And when you come across a young artist who is creating her own content, co-editing feminist journals and is scoring commissions from broadcasters like Channel 4 - you have to take note.
Dorothy is, and it’s sad to say, a rarity in the film industry - it pains to have to point it out but this is a women making films in a very male dominated industry, and this isn’t just a leftie liberal view. It has been demonstrated time and time again, namely when A Clodhopper, in another incarnation was reporting at the 67th Cannes Film festival. Jane Campion was head of the prize Jury and it was full circle for the director because over twenty years before, at just 28 years old she won the Palme D’or for her film ‘The Piano’. But to this day remains the ONLY women to have done so, commenting on the under representation in the industry at a press conference Jane said "It does feel very undemocratic...Time and time again we don’t get our share of representation..” And it’s further demonstrated when you look at more mainstream events like the Oscars - Katherine Bigalow remains the ONLY female director to have won the best director Oscar EVER for the ‘Hurt Locker’. And there is no doubt Ms Pickard is well versed in this conundrum - for her studies at Warwick University she did a research project titled ‘The Celluloid Ceiling’ where she met with female filmmakers in USA, UK and France to discuss the industry, in her notes she comments: “I found the interviews to be incredibly varied and the directors only seemed to share one view: that the industry was tough to crack and even harder for women.”
This focus on women expands beyond the space afforded in filmmaking and is not limited to ‘The Celluloid Ceiling’ or Another Gaze. As part of a Women's Resource Centre series of commissions in 'Women Speak Out' Dorothy filmed Mena talking about discrimination based on her race, and her sex. And in ‘Carpenter State’ the subject is mothers who occupied the Carpenter Estate after being evicted from the Focus E15 when Newham Council cut its funding. Still the body of work isn’t entirely preoccupied with a feminist gaze, instead fiction films and docs seem to have heavy focus on the human condition across a broad spectrum, a subject A Clodhopper has always been a fan of since it’s early days of reading Booker Prize shortlisted books. In short doc ‘Old Pal’ Dorothy explores the challenges of being young and disabled, in ‘Spent’ the fascinating concept of indirect sex work is explored through non fiction or in eighteen minute doc ‘Students, Sex and Shame’ she explores views about consent and sexual abuse. This work, and the multitude not mentioned, means that since graduating from Warwick University in 2015 with a degree in French and Film Dorothy Allen Pickard is a ‘one to watch’ - indirect sex work, feminism and all.