Thirty minutes into our interview, Izzy apologies. “I’m going to sound so boring saying this because I’ve just talked about it four times!” the YouTuber and classic film buff exclaims as she launches into another discussion about her favourite film, the 1950 drama All About Eve. We may have talked about the movie a few times, but the infectious energy Izzy brings when she talks about her passion makes her endlessly engaging. It is a dynamism that proves just why Izzy, with her YouTube channel Be Kind Rewind, is one of the most interesting and entertaining content creators today.

With 54 videos, 187,000 subscribers, and almost 19 million total views, Be Kind Rewind is every feminist film enthusiast’s dream, a channel devoted to detailing the stories of women in Hollywood, particularly Hollywood between the 1930s and 1960s. Through well-researched, culturally relevant videos such as “Politics and the Star Persona of Katharine Hepburn” or “#OscarsSoWhite: From Anna May Wong to Awkwafina,” Izzy draws in both long-time film enthusiasts and the newly curious alike.

Yet being a YouTuber was never Izzy’s intended plan. “I had always considered my love of film a hobby,” she recalls. A trip to the Museum of Film and Television in Berlin sparked the realization that “people make an actual career out of loving film history,” and inspired Izzy to create Be Kind Rewind, albeit initially for practical purposes: “I started the channel as a resume, to sort of demonstrate what I had learned and my passion…[it was] something to talk about in interviews.”

“By talking about the history of women in Hollywood, Izzy occupies a niche online almost exclusively her own”

But Be Kind Rewind led to more than just job interviews, as the channel soon gained a loyal following amongst a young, predominantly female audience. By talking about the history of women in Hollywood, Izzy occupies a niche online almost exclusively her own. “I want to talk about women specifically because we don’t get talked about in film history,” she asserts, “people say the meanest stuff about some of these women, specifically about their work and their acting ability…historically they have been pushed to the side just because they don’t have these grand, sweeping adventures like in Lawrence of Arabia or The Godfather. I do think part of it is saying ’well actually, they’re very strong and what they did is incredible to me.”

Be Kind Rewind also examines women in Hollywood through the lens of the Best Actress Oscar: “I wanted to use the Oscars as a sort of MacGuffin to explore what was going on in American culture, in the film industry, and also specifically with these women’s lives.” By including this context, Izzy introduced a new audience to these women and their work. “It’s been incredibly encouraging to me to know that these videos have helped people become interested in [classic film history],” she explains when asked about the goals of Be Kind Rewind. “I just love these stories so much! The more people who can get interested in it the better.”

Indeed, Izzy’s passion for movies amplifies as our conversation continues. Mentions of famous movies and movie stars abound, from Jane Fonda to Cabaret to Joan Crawford to, of course, All About Eve (‘you can write me a novel about why Bette Davis [didn’t deserve Best Actress] and I will never agree with you!’). It is because of her extensive love and knowledge of these films that Izzy struggles to understand why they are often dismissed by modern audiences. ’I’ll never understand when people are like ‘ugh, black and white, ew!’…I just can’t fathom being so certain that nothing that exists before 1980 is interesting. That’s so dumb!’ she passionately exclaims. Yet she also knows that ‘a lot of the time it feels like an access problem…you [have to] give people the starting point to say like “hey this is a cool movie that you may not have thought about.”’


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Izzy recognizes that engaging with these films, many of which contain problematic elements, can be a challenge for viewers. “It is something I think about a lot in terms of loving classic film because obviously so much of it is problematic,” Izzy explains, “for me it’s just important to be really open about it and understand what it is and why it is and how it still exists for us in 2021.” Nevertheless, Izzy is aware of her privilege and her emotional distance from the more egregious aspects of film history. In her video on how racism is depicted on film, Izzy acknowledges that “as a well-intentioned white American talking about race from my perspective, I know I’m part of the problem too. I cannot and should not be a definitive voice on this issue.” Speaking with Izzy now, she adds that, when watching films that contain problematic elements, “part of it is not living in the fantasy [but rather] understanding that it’s bad…and then part of it is what I’m doing on my channel, which is giving it a historical context so that you’re not burying your head in the sand.”

“The movies say so much about the lies we tell ourselves about ourselves”

It is this idea of engaging with the past that Izzy successfully achieves through Be Kind Rewind. Her videos recognize the complexity of film history and the films themselves, as well as the oppressive ideologies that inhibited and controlled women in the industry. Yet Izzy also celebrates the women, from Katharine Hepburn to Anna May Wong to Bette Davis, who defied expectation and succeeded despite these challenges. To Izzy, these women and the classic films they proliferated are essential today because of their history, the stories they tell both on and off the screen. “I think they say so much about American culture and what our fears are – to be blunt about it, the lies we tell ourselves about ourselves…. And you can’t look back on those things and not be like ‘why did this happen, why did this happen a lot, and what systems were in place to allow for this to happen?’…. Understanding that history and seeing it play out is so important to just being a citizen.”