In 1995, Miranda July became disenchanted with her male-dominated pre-film program at UC Santa Cruise. Inspired by the blooming riot grrrl/DIY culture in Portland, she dropped out and relocated, hoping to find a place for herself in that scene. She made a pamphlet inviting women to mail in VHS tapes of short films they had made, promising that they would receive a VHS tape with nine short films made by other women in return. She left this pamphlet at shows or at schools, even giving Bikini Kill a bunch to take on tour. This was the beginning of the Joanie 4 Jackie project, which aimed to empower women to make their own films, as well as create a community of female filmmakers and an audience for their work.
During screenings of Joanie 4 Jackie chainletters of films, Miranda would create additional participatory films with the audience, for example having members finish the sentence “no one ever told me” on tape and then playing it back at the end of the screening. Eventually, Miranda left the project in the hands of students at Bard college in order to pursue different artistic projects. Presently, Miranda has authored two books, created numerous online participatory art projects, and wrote/directed/starred in two feature length independent films.
I consider Miranda an activist because she created a community from scratch, encouraging women to make their own films in a male-dominated medium. Her later feature length films (the first of which won the Camera D’Or at Cannes) serve as an example to young female filmmakers that you can succeed as a female director without sacrificing your vision.