Lizzie has been awarded a major grant by the Arts and Humanities Research Council to lead a project about the life and work of one of the earliest women documentary makers in the UK – Jill Craigie (1911 – 1999). Craigie’s career as a film-maker and suffrage historian, has long been eclipsed in public memory by her role as the wife of former Labour leader, Michael Foot.
The project will explore what her life history reveals about the social and industrial factors which constrain and sometimes, enable, women’s involvement in film production and how her career might interrogate existing histories of British documentary.
Craigie’s career as a film maker effectively stalled through the 1950s although she moved into screenwriting and remained active as a journalist. We will examine the social and political forces which account for this gap in her film production; a gap which is crucial to understanding not only Craigie, but the many women since who have struggled to maintain a career in the film industry.
We will chart how, although her production activity ceased for 40 years, her commitment to her political ideals did not and was pursued in her lifelong interest in the women’s suffrage movement.
We will examine how Craigie mediated the ‘first wave’ of feminism to understand the politics of her own time just as we envisage this project informing a revision of documentary film histories to encompass women’s contribution.
Key outputs will include an experimental film biography, directed by Thynne and a book, co-authored by Yvonne Tasker (UEA) and Sadie Wearing (LSE).