Hiding in Plain Sight: Reviving the Work of Women Film Auteurs in the Digital Age

Material Description

Hiding in Plain Sight: Reviving the Work of Women Film Auteurs in the Digital Age is IndieCollect’s initiative, in cooperation Film-Makers' Cooperative/New American Cinema Group, Inc., to document, scan and digitally restore 110 films of artistic, cultural and/or historical significance by women artists and filmmakers. Made from 1945 to 2003, these diverse works need state-of-the-art digitization. Examples include experimental films by Marie Menken, Storm De Hirsch, Doris Chase, and Barbara Hammer; early 16mm work by video activist DeeDee Halleck; the films of African American filmmakers Jessie Maple, Yvonne Welbon, Zeinabu irene Davis; social issue films by Mirra Bank, Joyce Chopra, Liane Brandon, Judith Helfand, Barbara Margolis, Julia Reichert; and features by Nancy Kelly, Randa Haines, and Mary Lampson. Several of these were made with all-female crews. The nominated films include Will, by Jessie Maple, the first African American woman to become an IATSE union member; Growing Up Female, considered one of the first feminist films; and Union Maids, consisting of first-person accounts by veterans of the struggle to form industrial unions during the Depression. The women filmmakers nominated for inclusion represent an extraordinary array of talent (including several Academy Award nominees), whose work deserves to be made accessible in a form that meets the latest digital standards. NB: Some of the nominated films were preserved on film by the Women’s Film Preservation Fund, but did not provide for creation of new digital masters.


USC’s Comprehensive Annenberg Report on Diversity documents the under-representation of women directors in the Hollywood film industry, yet they are a strong presence among American independent filmmakers. Women film auteurs have been “hiding in plain sight” since the dawn of cinema, but scholarship & access lag, hindered by insufficient funds for collection, preservation & documentation. Using our 5K Kinetta Archival Scanner, IndieCollect will create state-of-the-art digital masters of 110 films by women directors, including 42 from Film-Makers’ Cooperative. After scanning & restoration, the original film and sound elements will be placed in permanent archive repositories; titles from Film-Makers’ Cooperative will be returned to their vault; and the new digital preservation masters will be placed at the Library of Congress. Time-coded digital versions and metadata for each film will be provided gratis to scholars affiliated with the Media Ecology Project.


Digitizing Hidden Collections

Amount Awarded


Year Added





  • Ms. Sandra Schulberg (IndieCollect)
  • Ms. Kirsten Larvick
  • Ms. M.M. Serra

Collaborating Institution(s)

New American Cinema Group, Inc. (NACG) d/b/a Film-Makers' Cooperative (FMC)

Date Range

1945 - 2003

Geographic Scope

The films to be scanned represent the concerns of filmmakers living in various parts of the United States, and the great majority were shot in the U.S. A few depict international topics that concerned American citizens, such as our involvement in Vietnam or America’s Cold War struggle with Russia.


  • 393 Audiovisual Recordings