Two decades after its premiere, the groundbreaking IFC Channel show Split Screen celebrated its anniversary with a Criterion Live! event, presented last Wednesday in partnership with the Film Society of Lincoln Center and FilmStruck. Series creator and host John Pierson reunited onstage with some of the show’s distinguished alumni—including Miranda July, Richard Linklater, and Kevin Smith—for a wide-ranging discussion about how Split Screen uncovered hidden pockets of contemporary American film culture during its four-year run from 1997 to 2001.
Among the evening’s highlights was footage from 1999 of an effervescent Miranda July in her twenties, making her television debut as the mastermind of Big Miss Moviola, a DIY feminist-film experiment in which July solicited short work from women across the country and compiled them into VHS chain letters that she circulated among all the contributors. The project, which began in 1995 and was later renamed Joanie 4 Jackie, was recently acquired by the Getty Research Institute and is now available to browse at a newly launched website. In the above clip, July chats with the segment’s director, Janet Pierson, about the experience of finding her voice as a woman in the independent-film scene.