Theatre Girls

A film by Kim Longinotto and Claire Pollak

UK | 1978 | 56 minutes | BW | DVD | Order No. 06906

SYNOPSIS

In her final piece at film school, Longinotto and her partner take us into the "Theatre Girls Club" in Soho, London–a hostel for elderly and destitute women and the only shelter in London that would take in any woman at any time. The filmmakers lived in the hostel for more than two months, establishing an extraordinary level of trust with their “cast” —from the home’s feisty cook to an elderly resident who was a terminal alcoholic. In what will later be recognized as a signature style, Longinotto films without judgement and finds the humor and humanity in situations and characters that might otherwise be seen as tragic. This stunning film debut earned awards at several European festivals and screened to acclaim in the US and Asia.

PRESS

“An extraordinary document.”

Time Out London

SCREENING HIGHLIGHTS AND AWARDS

  • Nyon Film Festival, 2 Jury Prizes
  • Tours Film Festival, Special Mention
  • Mannheim Film Festival, First Prize
  • Edinburgh Film Festival
  • Montreal Film Festival
  • Florence Film Festival
  • Los Angeles Filmex

ABOUT FILMMAKER(S)

Kim Longinotto

Kim Longinotto (born 1952) is a British documentary filmmaker, well known for making films that highlight the plight of female victims of oppression or discrimination. Longinotto studied camera and directing at the National Film and Television School in Beaconsfield, England, where she now tutors occasionally.

Longinotto was born to an Italian father and a Welsh mother; her father was a photographer who later went bankrupt. At the age of 10 she was sent to a draconian all-girls boarding school, where she found it hard to make friends due to the mistress forbidding anyone to talk to her for a term after she became lost during a school trip. After a period of homelessness, Longinotto went on to Essex University to study English and European literature and later followed friend and future filmmaker, Nick Broomfield to the National Film and Television School. While studying, she made a documentary about her boarding school that was shown at the London Film Festival, since when she has continued to be a prolific documentary filmmaker.

Longinotto is an observational filmmaker. Observational cinema, also known as direct cinema, free cinema or cinema verite, usually excludes certain documentary techniques such as advanced planning, scripting, staging, narration, lighting, reenactment and interviewing. Longinotto’s unobtrusiveness, which is an important part of observational documentary, gives the women on camera a certain voice and presence that may not have emerged with another documentary genre. She has received a number of awards for her films over the years, including a BAFTA for her documentary PINK SARIS.

Among her more than 20 films, she has followed a teenager struggling to become a wrestling star in 2000’s GAEA GIRLS, challenged the tradition of female genital mutilation in Kenya in 2002’s THE DAY I WILL NEVER FORGET, and told the story of an Indian Muslim woman who smuggled poetry out to the world while locked up by her family in 2013’s SALMA. In 2015's DREAMCATCHER Longinotto looks at the life and work of a former sex worker who rescues Chicago girls from the street.

Her new film SHOOTING THE MAFIA, premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. (3/19)

Claire Pollak

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