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The Female Closet
A film by Barbara Hammer
1998, 60 minutes, Color, DVD
Order No. W99610
This fascinating film from renowned filmmaker Barbara Hammer combines rare footage, interviews, and rich visual documentation to survey the lives of variously closeted women artists from different segments of the 20th century: Victorian photographer Alice Austen, Weimar collagist Hannah Höch, and present day painter Nicole Eisenman. In a compelling examination of the art world’s treatment of lesbians, Hammer documents how the museum devoted to Austen ignores the implications of her crossdressing photos, how the Museum of Modern Art glossed over Höch’s sexuality in a major exhibit, and how Eisenman’s work based on patriarchal porn is described by critics as “liberating, fun, and over the top”. Examining the museum as closet, and the negotiation of visibility and secrecy in lesbian history, this thoughtful video is a provocative look at the relationship between art, life, and sexuality.


  • Festival de Filmes de Femmes, Creteil
  • Assoc. of Women Journalists Award
  • National Media Education Festival, Bronze Apple Award
  • NY, SF, Toronto, and LA, Lesbian and Gay Film Festivals
  • Dallas Video Festival
  • Charlotte Film & Video Festival
  • Femme Totale, Dortmund, Germany
  • Athens International Film and Video Festival

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    “…a superb lesson on the history of lesbian art, as it interrogates the relationship between “the closet” and lesbian artists over the last hundred years.”
    Linda Lopez McAlister
    The Woman’s Show, WMNF-FM

    “The material Hammer got her hands on is impressive and staggering…”
    Lawrence Ferber
    The NY Blade

    “Hammer’s new doc is an accomplished scissors-and-paste job, using talking heads, home movies, and archival photographs in it’s investigation of the lives, art, and sexual histories of three women artists.”
    Elliot Stein
    Village Voice

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WMM offers film collections on a variety of specific subject areas, including the collections VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN: Ending the Silence, BODY IMAGE, and AFRICAN-AMERICAN: Celebrate the Lives of African-American Women.

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Women Make Movies is a multicultural, multiracial, non-profit media arts organization which facilitiates the production, promotion, distribution, and exhibition of independent films and videotapes by and about women. contact us