International Videoletters: New York (December 1975)

A videoletter made by women's collectives, covering a building in dangerous disrepair, the National Congress of Neighrborhood Women, and a feedback session.

00:05Copy video clip URL Footage of a protest. Demonstrators chanting for employment. The camera tracks down a sidewalk, filming bystanders. Hostos College Students marching. 

02:10Copy video clip URL An audience of women. A young woman talks about dealing with her high school experiences enough that she’s considering going to her reunion. 

03:17Copy video clip URL Another audience member discusses “the Portland tape.” The intimacy of video as a medium. 

04:16Copy video clip URL Another woman. Discussion of becoming “a news service” but wanting a form that’s more personal. 

04:50Copy video clip URL Voiceover: “When we started videoletters, we agreed we’d spend only a short time editing, if at all. And we live with all the clicks and the glitches. But I find it’s hard to send it out this way, and we’re going to be talking about this whole problem next Monday. Meanwhile, please listen with charity.”

05:15Copy video clip URL Another voiceover. Discussion of dubbing videoletter tapes from Chicago, Boston, and elsewhere. Needing to cease dubbing of a Los Angeles tape to “run downstairs and record a hassle in New York.”

06:13Copy video clip URL Footage of a building whose apartments were being destroyed by a corrupt superintendent to chase the tenants out. Finally getting the landlord into court and that leading to a workshop on money, power, and their relationship to feminism. The discussion among the women participants. 

07:32Copy video clip URL Voiceover: “When videoletters were interrupted once again by a fire in the building, I took it as a sign that tapes on money and ethics were doomed to be worked out in the street. And that if I was gonna ask you to comment on the situation, I’d better tell you the details beginning with the cast. The firemen and the policemen who come and go everyday are part of it. And the rent-controlled tenants who live in the half of the building that’s still alive, and those who live in the other half. I must tell you that we now own the building, having been given custody because we harassed the landlord back…” 

09:02Copy video clip URL Conversation about a neighboring building with a woman who’s lived there for 58 years but might soon be forced to move. “She wants to stay but she’s under great pressure…” The difficulties in maintaining the buildings and the possibility of it being closed down.

10:01Copy video clip URL Conversation about the building’s failings with Mr. Carla, a longtime resident who had passed away at the time of the video’s editing. 

10:44Copy video clip URL A West African woman who describes being threatened by the superintendent. The lack of water in the building. 

11:44Copy video clip URL A retired musician who’d been driven away by threats of violence from a man posing as an inspector. Other violence in the building. 

12:42Copy video clip URL Juan, a tenant organizer. The city defaulting on promises for loans to rehabilitate buildings. 

13:15Copy video clip URL An address to the viewer: “So I’m writing to ask, what do you think we should do as feminists in a situation like this?” Footage of the building, filled with debris. A conversation with a superintendent. Signing off: “This is Tracy, New York Videoletters.” 

15:22Copy video clip URL Footage taken from a car driving through New York. Accompanied by Stevie Wonder’s “Living for the City”

17:50Copy video clip URL Voiceover about the National Congress of Neighborhood Women, “formed in October 1974 by over 200 neighborhood women and community organizers who had come together in Washington, D.C. to discuss the needs of working class ethnic women.” Another woman in voiceover discusses the necessity of the organization. 

19:11Copy video clip URL Videomaker Christine Noschese interviews Ronnie Hagerty, a staff member of the NCNW about the organization’s activities, workshops, and other functions. Discussion of “radical feminists.” 

22:00Copy video clip URL Defining “radical feminists”: “Well, I guess the way society looks at all the news media or radical feminists, oh, you burn your bra, you look masculine, you know. Not who’s doing all these stupid things. Why are they doing this and why are they doing that? But, well, radical to me is maybe I’m a feminist. I’ve been a feminist all my life since I’m at least 10 years old in a lot of ways. But I have never – “radical,” I guess this means maybe they’re coming on too strong, but maybe that’s how they have to be heard. Because just like when you talk to your children, you say ‘Would you come here? I need you.’ And if they don’t come? If you scream and say ‘Come here I need you.’ Then you get their attention and you come. So maybe they have to scream to get the people’s attention.”  Learning about the importance of radical feminism from Alice Quinn, who is standing nearby. 

25:03Copy video clip URL Voiceover: “This segment, on the National Congress of Neighborhood Women, was produced by Christine Noschese and Susan Milano. We’d like to thank the people at the National Congress as well as Ronnie Hegarty, the woman you’ve just seen. 

25:22Copy video clip URL Carol Anshien introduces feedback to tapes of November 8, from Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.

25:42Copy video clip URL Ariel Dougherty congratulates Los Angeles for a beneficial feedback session and suggests that more cities should put their feedback onto the tapes. 

26:30Copy video clip URL Audience comments about the feedback in the tapes. 

27:14Copy video clip URL Tracy Fitz notes the sound problems in the San Francisco tapes. 

27:28Copy video clip URL Susan Milano suggests that videomakers wear a pair of headphones to detect any problems during recording. Anshien identifies the make and model of Milano’s headphones, which Milano models jokingly for the camera. 

28:50Copy video clip URL An audience member expresses her appreciation for the tape about sexual assault. 

29:17Copy video clip URL Milano discusses her support for the “Alice Doesn’t” women’s strike but bemoans the lack of organization. Another audience member points out the poor timing of the strike and the need for coordination among women’s organizations. 

31:13Copy video clip URL Anshien addresses the audience. “Dear video sisters, the room that you see is at the Women’s Interart Center. It’s the video workshop room where we’ve been editing this edition of videoletters.” She explains that she put together all the segments of the videotape and thanks Milano, Tracy Ward, and Doris London.



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