This essay examines the work of British “cinefeminist” Claire Johnston, whose activism, writings, and filmmaking during the 1970s and 1980s merged innovative feminist media production practices with new modes of theoretical inquiry. Johnston's 1973 essay “Women's Cinema as Counter-Cinema” was crucial to feminist film theory's development, yet the essay's canonization has reduced her thinking to a handful of theoretical concerns. To grasp the full political promise of Johnston's work, this article reconsiders the essay in three related contexts, examining: the historical circumstances in which it was published and the feminist debates it participated in; its ties to Johnston's less noted writings; and its relation to Johnston's filmmaking while she was a member of the London Women's Film Group, a feminist filmmaking collective committed to building coalitions among women media workers. This article won the Society for Cinema and Media Studies Graduate Student Writing Prize in 2016.

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