Alex Coburn, a junior cinema and photography student, wrote an independent-study paper that will be published in “Film Matters,” a prestigious magazine recognizing the work of undergraduate film scholars. Her paper, “Valerie the Vampire Slayer: Abjection, Czech New Wave, and Feminist Interventions,” analyzes the film named in the title as a feminist text and is one of the first papers of its kind.
Feminist theory, especially when discussing older films, serves to reclaim an industry that is dominated by men and has been discriminating against and subjugating women for decades. Using feminist theory to analyze older films promotes a message: Women have always had a place in film. Films that tell women’s stories — and, by proxy, are about their empowerment — have always existed, regardless of censorship of feminist ideologies occurring at the time.
Going beyond feminist theory, Coburn is also working toward shifting the culture surrounding film at the Roy H. Park School of Communications altogether. Considering many of these issues take root in the industry — which starts in our classrooms — this work is leading to a change our institution desperately needs. In a commentary published by The Ithacan that Coburn wrote last year, she emphasized that the Park School’s film department still has a major problem with sexism and stated that she would work tirelessly to try to remedy the issue. In the piece, she also called upon her male colleagues to take a stand with women and minorities in the film industry.
By continuously discussing these issues and keeping them at the forefront of conversation, Coburn is doing her part as an up-and-coming filmmaker to improve the industry. Both students and faculty should look to her as an example for what the modern film industry requires in order to undergo true change. If members of our campus community want the film industry to become a place where all demographics are represented without fear of discrimination, they should take similar initiatives to Coburn’s and seek ways to further the discussion about women in film, whether through validating their past or paving the way for their future.