This essay commemorates the fortieth anniversary of the independent feminist film organization Women Make Movies (WMM) by reflecting on its history and relationship to larger currents in feminist media culture. Based on archival research, this contribution to Camera Obscura's special “In Practice” dossier on WMM sheds light on the formation and early history of the organization and its origins as a community-based filmmaking workshop called the Chelsea Picture Station. Exploring materials such as old newsletters, brochures, notes, and other ephemera from the WMM papers, this piece articulates some of the core values expressed when WMM was founded — values like community, feminist activism, access, and support — and suggests that these values established important precedents for WMM's institutional identity. This historical overview also shows how WMM's community workshops and alternative exhibition scenarios realized feminist ideals during an immensely formative moment for feminist media. The essay concludes by attempting to assess WMM's unique position in independent film.

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