The Melbourne Women in Film Festival (MWFF) is a four-day event in Melbourne, Australia, that supports and celebrates the work of Australian women filmmakers. Launched in 2017, the festival emerged from our desire as screen academics to increase the visibility of both professional and amateur women filmmakers and their work. Despite a strong history of grassroots and state-supported women’s creative cultures in Australia, women have remained marginal within the domestic screen industry. Women filmmakers are also underrepresented within the global festival circuit. This article traces the curatorial practices underpinning MWFF since its inception. We describe our approach to running a locally based, women-centered film festival; how we define “women” and “women’s filmmaking”; and how our programing choices support our festival ethos. We also contextualize our event as one that both continues and is in dialogue with women’s screen culture in Australia, particularly the one-off Women’s International Film Festival held in 1975. Locating our festival in this historical context, we argue that retrospective screenings play a particularly vital role at MWFF in achieving our festival aims. We recount our inaugural festival in 2017 and explain the significance of retrospectives in building a legacy for women filmmakers and making their achievements visible to the next generation.

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