This essay offers a microhistory of the feminist film distributor Moonforce Media. Between 1975 and 1980, Moonforce Media built the National Women's Film Circuit, a lesbian feminist distribution system that circulated preconstituted packages of multigeneric feminist films through as wide a nontheatrical feminist U.S. market as possible. Drawing on the organization's records and ephemera, now located in the Sophia Smith Collection at Smith College, and oral histories with its founders, this analysis of the development of Moonforce Media—its distribution policies, programming choices, and exhibition strategies—and audiences' reception of the National Women's Film Circuit provides insight into how feminist media workers strove to change society through the ongoing learning process of relating to one another and to their audiences. It also offers an opportunity to return to the emergence of cultural feminism and to rethink the economic and affective labor of lesbian feminist organizations and lesbian feminist cinema in particular. Often thought to have redirected second-wave efforts away from radical feminism's earlier revolutionary challenges of systemic sexism and toward the more retreatist and capitalist creation of a female counterculture, here cultural/lesbian feminism does not delimit political possibility, but instead supports a range of political practices in its variegated conception of lesbian media and deployment of said media across geographies and ideologies. In its exhibition, lesbian feminist cinema brought together diverse audiences with a wide range of expectations and demands for its feminist films, and, in turn, these cinematic encounters constituted an affective archive of 1970s U.S. feminisms.
- film distribution
- lesbian archives
- lesbian feminist cinema
- Moonforce Media
- National Women's Film Circuit
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