Director of Back to Josie (UK, 1997, 8mins) distributed by Cinenova.

Text by Tracey Francis.

In March 2016 I curated a short film night for International Women’s Day at Deptford Cinema. This Event was called Landscapes of Girlhood. During the process of researching films for the event, I wanted to find a film that captured the uncertainty of becoming a woman in a changing London.

During My Research at Cinenova I decided to view several films not on my list – the film title Back to Josie jumped out at me. As soon as I watched it I knew it would fit perfectly within the program of selected films. Back to Josie (1997) by Alix Mumford, is set during a hot summer’s day on a disused railway viaduct stretching over the heart of London. The Film explores a young woman’s fascination with the American-French entertainer Josephine Baker, her relationship with her male friend Tom and underlying tensions. The Central figure Josie is a young black woman who may be clinging to her childhood fantasy relationship with Josephine Baker to avoid taking on the big issues in her life. One issue being mentioned in a throw away comment – her mother’s mental health.

Stills courtesy of the filmmaker.

Alix Mumford was one of the filmmakers who was present that evening at Deptford Cinema for a Q&A. Out of the discussion Alix spoke about how she had moved away from the film industry but being part of the event allowed her to think about returning to filmmaking. This made me realise how important programming women’s films was because the desire to see hidden narratives that explore the richness of being female and otherness is very much wanted by audiences. It also made it very clear to me as a curator of film events that it was important to include in any discourse that women can have a natural sabbatical from the industry, but their work is still very much an important part of women’s film history.

Since the event in 2016 I have always included an archive film when curating a short film event. I feel it allows an audience to contextualise how women have always wanted their stories heard. The history of women’s film needs to constantly be in the present, in order to understand its rightful place in film history.

Tracey Francis 

Co-founder of Women in Film SE15 and a volunteer with Cinenova

Instagram: wifse15

Twitter: @WIFSE15