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TFMS Film Series – Caroline Martel's 'The Phantom of the Operator'

September 9
8:15 PM
10:00 PM
Cole Cinema, Campus Center

The Seventh Annual TFMS Film Series:
Toil & Trouble: The Reel History of Working Women
Monday evening screenings
September 9, October 7, & November 11
8:15 p.m., Cole Cinema, Campus Center
Free and open to the public

Where do we find the history of women's work? Canadian documentary filmmakers Caroline Martel ("The Phantom of the Operator," September 9) and Maya Gallus ("Dish: Women, Waitressing, & the Art of Service," October 7) as well as Academy Award-nominated U.S. documentary filmmaker Connie Field ("The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter," November 11) will present work that addresses the elusiveness of that history by making women's labor visible and documenting their behind-the-scenes struggle on behalf of the workforce and workers' rights.

Please visit the TFMS web site for detailed information on each participating filmmaker (

Caroline Martel
"The Phantom of the Operator" / "Le Fantôme de l'opératrice"
Monday, September 9
8:15 p.m., Cole Cinema

Documentary artist Caroline Martel was born in Montréal the year that the cellular phone was created (1973). Since 1998, her work has synthesized documentary theory and practice in a variety of projects, with a special interest in archival materials, cinema history, and women and communication technologies.

Martel's documentary Hold the Line / Dernier appel (2001), about the failed struggle of unionized Bell Canada operators to resist the outsourcing of their jobs, marked her professional filmmaking debut and served as one of the inspirations for The Phantom of the Operator (2004), her first feature-length production as an independent director-producer. Martel has authored online pieces for the International Festival of New Cinema and New Media of Montréal and for the Inter-Society for Electronic Arts. She also serves as programming coordinator at Studio XX, Montréal's bilingual feminist artist-run center for technological exploration, creation, and critique.

With a B.A. in communications and M.A. in media studies from Concordia University in Montréal, Martel has collaborated with the Cinémathèque québécoise as the main researcher and writer of the virtual exhibit De Nanook à l'Oumigmag, which presents a history of documentary filmmaking in Canada. In 2002, she directed the production of the interactive workshop Documentary Visions at the Cinérobothèque of the National Film Board of Canada, about documentary movements at the NFB since 1939.

In her award-winning The Phantom of the Operator, Martel assembles more than 100 rarely seen industrial, advertising, and scientific management films produced in North America between 1903 and 1989 by Bell and Western Electric to create a montage documentary of a little-known chapter in labor history: the story of female telephone operators' central place in the development of global communications technologies.

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The Department of Theater, Film, and Media Studies would like to thank the following for their generous support of the Seventh Annual TFMS Film Series: Lecture and Fine Arts of St. Mary's College of Maryland, the departments of political science and history, and the CDSA in women, gender, and sexuality studies.

UPCOMING, October 7 – Maya Gallus' "Dish: Women, Waitressing, & the Art of Service"

Event Contact Info
Mark Rhoda
 Click to Visit 

Cole Cinema, Campus Center
18952 E. Fisher Rd
St. Mary's City, MD 20686