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Q & A with Stephanie Rothman

Abstract

With co-sponsorship from the Center for the Study of Women, The Crank, UCLA’s grad student run film society, recently hosted a special screening of writer-director Stephanie Rothman’s acclaimed film The Velvet Vampire (1971) with the filmmaker in attendance. Rothman, writer-director of “exploitation” films like The Student Nurses (1970), Terminal Island (1973), and The Working Girls (1974) was one of the most prolific female filmmakers working in Hollywood in the 1970s. During that decade, her films were at the center of feminist debates concerning the most effective way in which women could use film to overturn Hollywood’s often degrading representations. While some argued that the creation of avant-garde and independent films was the key to breaking the influence of the patriarchal system, others contended that women working within the mainstream could dismantle and revise Hollywood representations to reveal and disempower their misogynistic qualities. Scholar Pam Cook wrote that “Rothman’s work was part of this polemic, since her films could be seen as a prime example of feminist subversion from within, using the generic formulae of exploitation cinema in the interest of her own agenda as a woman director.”

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