B. Ruby Rich

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B. Ruby Rich
B. Ruby Rich.jpg
B. Ruby Rich in April 2017
Born Boston, United States
Nationality American
Alma mater Yale University
Occupation Scholar, professor at UC Santa Cruz, film critic, editor of Film Quarterly
Known for New Queer Cinema

B. Ruby Rich is an American scholar, critic of independent, Latin American, documentary, feminist, and queer films, and a professor of Film & Digital Media and Social Documentation (also known as "SocDoc") at UC Santa Cruz.[1] Among her many contributions, she is known for coining the term New Queer Cinema. She is currently the editor of Film Quarterly, the scholarly film journal published by University of California Press. Her editorials are available free online at the Film Quarterly website.


Rich began her career in film exhibition as co-founder of the Woods Hole Film Society. In 1973, she became associate director of what is now the Gene Siskel Film Center at the Art Institute of Chicago.[2] After working as film critic for the Chicago Reader, she moved to New York City[2] to become the director of the film program for the New York State Council on the Arts, where she worked for a decade. While living in New York City, she began writing for the Village Voice. She then moved to San Francisco, where she began teaching, first, at the University of California, Berkeley, and now at UC Santa Cruz, as Professor of Film and Digital Media, where she helped to build the Social Documentation graduate program. In 2017, the Barbican hosted a season of films and talks to commemorate her incredible career as a film critic, academic and curator.[3]

A working cultural theorist and critic since the mid-1970s, Rich has been closely identified with several important film movements, including independent film in the U.S., Europe, and Latin American, and she remains one of the most important voices in feminist film criticism.

Media appearances[edit]

In 1999, Rich appeared as a guest critic on several episodes of Roger Ebert at the Movies.

B. Ruby Rich appears in the 2009 documentary film For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism where she discusses the appeal of the film Amélie, and expresses her desire for a new kind of criticism to emerge from young critics who can go beyond auteur theory.

New Queer Cinema and other influences[edit]

Rich coined the term "New Queer Cinema" in 1992 after writing an article in the Village Voice, which was reprinted in Sight and Sound.[4] In the article, Rich identified a wave of films that collided at film festivals such as Sundance and TIFF. Rich asserts that these independent films, made by and for queer-identified people, used radical aesthetics to combat homophobia, grapple with the trauma of the AIDS epidemic, and complicate queer subjectivities, while importing much needed discussions of race. Rich argues that although films dealing with these issues can be found in the previous decade, New Queer Cinema broke with the gay liberation ethos that self-representation should remain positive and desirable.[4]

Her presence at film festivals (such as Sundance, where she was an early member of the selection committee; TIFF, where she served as an international programmer in 2002; Telluride (where she was Guest Director in 1996); and Provincetown, where she appears every spring, has been significant. Her film reviews in major national publications, and her commentaries on the public broadcasting programs The World, Independent View, and All Things Considered, have secured her place as a central figure in cinema studies and culture.[5]


Chick Flicks: Theories and Memories of the Feminist Film Movement[edit]

The back cover of her classic 1998 book, Chick Flicks: Theories and Memories of the Feminist Film Movement, reads: "If there was a moment during the sixties, seventies, or eighties that changed the history of the women's film movement, B. Ruby Rich was there. Part journalistic chronicle, part memoir, and 100 percent pure cultural historical odyssey, Chick Flicks – with its definitive, the way-it-was collective essays – captures the birth and growth of feminist film as no other book has done." Her book includes critical analyses of Sally Potter's Thriller, the films of Yvonne Rainer, and Leontine Sagan's Mädchen in Uniform.

New Queer Cinema: The Director's Cut[edit]

Mostly an assemblage of Rich's published writing on queer films of the preceding decades, New Queer Cinema: The Director's Cut moves from the moment of New Queer Cinema's inception in the early 1990s festival circuit to its Hollywood co-option in the late 1990s to its more recent international impact and European and U.S. mainstreaming. The book includes studies of such films as The Watermelon Woman, Go Fish, Milk, as well as the films of Lucrecia Martel and Gregg Araki.


Rich was a regular contributor to the Village Voice, as well as the San Francisco Bay Guardian and the British Film Institute's Sight & Sound. She has also contributed to The Guardian, the Nation, ELLE, Mirabella, The Advocate and Out. She was the founding editor of film/video reviews for GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies. [6]


Rich is the recipient of the 2006 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society for Cinema and Media Studies, and she is the recipient of the 2007 Brudner Memorial Prize at Yale University. In 2012, she was awarded the Frameline Award – the first critic to receive this honor since Vito Russo was given the very first one. In 2014, the Guadalajara Film Festival presented her with its "Queer Icon" Maguey Award.


  1. ^ UCSC.edu
  2. ^ a b "University Faculty Page". Film and Digital Media. USC Santa Cruz. Retrieved April 11, 2016. 
  3. ^ "Being Ruby Rich". Barbican. 
  4. ^ a b Hays, Matthew. "Beyond The Celluloid Closet." Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide 20.4 (2013): 37. Academic Search Complete. Web. April 22, 2016.
  5. ^ Myers, Emma (February 7, 2014). "CriticWire". Profiles in Criticism. CriticWire. Retrieved April 11, 2016.
  6. ^ "B. Ruby Rich". Brubyrich.com. N.p., 2016. Web. April 22, 2016.

External links[edit]