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Jan Millsapps collaborating with La Casa de las Madres

Award: $25,000 Media Arts grant awarded in 1995

Premiered:  June 26, 1997, La Casa de las Madres 20th anniversary celebration; October 1997, Mill Valley International Film Festival

Pioneering digital filmmaker Jan Millsapps collaborated with La Casa de las Madres to create an interactive CD-ROM about domestic violence. The finished work, “Episodes,” was housed in a free standing kiosk that was set up in the San Francisco Public Library, San Francisco State University, San Francisco City Hall, and several Kaiser medical facilities.

“Episodes'” home page showed a “virtual” house. Once inside, a viewer progressed from room to room, in each uncovering an episode of domestic abuse.  Viewers had opportunities to experience all points of view, showing why it is so difficult for both abusers and victims to change their behavior.  Text and voice-over were presented in English and Spanish. The CD-ROM also offered practical advice and referrals to shelters and support services.

Stories depicted were fictional representations of actual experiences of staff and clientele of La Casa de las Madres, San Francisco’s largest women’s shelter. Jan Millsapps began the collaboration by collecting anonymous written entries—contributed onto a computer in La Casa’s library.  The storytellers continued with the project through its completion:  acting in the videos, doing voice over work, and supervising how their stories were depicted.

Jan Millsapps is an award winning filmmaker and multimedia artist, and a Professor in the Cinema Department at San Francisco State University. Her work has been screened at  the de Young Museum; Smithsonian Institution; Center Screen in Cambridge, Massachusetts; the International Center for Photography in New York; and many other venues.