The Work We Share: A Question of Choice

EXHIBITION: 08 DEC 2023 – 10 DEC 2023

Site Gallery, Sheffield, UK

Watch Sheffield Film Co-op short film A Question of Choice (1982) in Site’s Studio I, part of Cinenova’s programme The Work We Share.

A Question of Choice features a small group of low-paid women workers – two cleaners, a cook, a lollipop lady – and a male caretaker in a school in Walkley, Sheffield. The participants describe the limited employment choices available to women when family remains their first priority. While the work they do is hard and poorly paid, it does offer them flexibility, with hours that fit in with their family lives, as well as affording them close contact with the community and their childrens’ education. Beyond the work that they do in the school, these women run activities at a local community centre and organise events for children in the local area. Displaying some optimism about the way the women successfully organise community activities and support one another, the film raises particular questions that other women viewing the film might recognise in their own lives, with the aim of provoking discussion.

This presentation forms part of an ongoing Cinenova programme titled The Work We Share, a film programme of ten newly digitised films from the Cinenova collection. Produced between 1972 and 1994, the films address oppositional histories and questions of difference through the lenses of gender, race, sexuality, health, and community.

The Work We Share gathers a number of films that previously existed in precarious conditions, in some cases, with negatives being lost or distribution film prints being the only copy. This programme intends to acknowledge Cinenova’s interdependency: from organisation to filmmakers, cultural workers, communities, and individuals. How can we acknowledge our interdependent relationships? How can we recognise our place in a network of communications, relationships, and resources, particularly as an un-funded volunteer organisation? What different strains of labour does our work rely on? How do we sustain this work mutually?

 

Sheffield Film Coop
In the early 1970s the second women’s liberation movement was engaging in raising consciousness about issues women faced in their domestic and work lives. It was soon clear that there was a need to disseminate feminist ideas about the issues to a wider audience than those women already attending meetings. A small group of women with young children in Sheffield realised that film could be a powerful means of giving women the voice that they did not have in the mainstream media. With funding from Channel 4’s Independent Film and Video Department, SFC later went on to make films for broadcast and to help train new women filmmakers.

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