Thriller

Since its release in 1980, Sally Potter's rewriting of Puccini's opera, La Boheme, has become a classic in feminist film theory. A model for the deconstruction of the Hollywood film, THRILLER turns the conventional role of women as romantic victims in fiction on its head. Mimi, the seamstress heroine of the opera who must die before the curtain goes down, decides to investigate the reasons for her death. In doing so, she begins to explore the dichotomy which separates her from the opera's other female character, the "bad girl" Musetta. As rich in sounds and imagery as it is theoretically compelling, THRILLER provides the female spectator with a long-awaited recognition of her version of the story.
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Theatre Girls

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.
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Pride of Place

A rarely seen classic, PRIDE OF PLACE was made as a first project while Longinotto was a student at England’s National School of Television and Film. As a teenager, the filmmaker had been condemned to a girls' boarding school in an old, isolated castle in Buckinghamshire. Wisely, she ran away at the age of 17, and years later took the opportunity for sweet revenge. In this dark and expressive film, Longinotto exposes the repressive school from the students’ perspective—as a kind of miniature state with bizarre rules, indigestible food and absurd punishments. One year after the release of the film, the boarding school was closed down. With PRIDE OF PLACE, Longinotto sets the tone for a long career of films in which individuals revolt against oppressive authorities and stifling traditions.
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They Are Their Own Gifts

A three volume set of film portraits--Muriel Rukeyser, Alice Neel and Anna Sokolow. The poetry, painting, and dance of these three women is not artistic purism, but the product of a life conducted within social fabric. Through interviews, photographs and her own poetry readings, Muriel Rukeyser is shown as a civil rights and political activist. "This film shows beautifully how Rukeyser's courageous and independent life and her fierce and compassionate lyricism are forged to make the long poem that is her life." --Galen Williams, Executive Director, Poets and Writers. Portrait painter Alice Neel has created a psychological and spiritual history of the modern era, as it has been registered in the human face. "A dazzling portrait of an exuberant and vivacious painter." --Dr. Joyce Rosa, Professor of Art History, Long Island University. Anna Sokolow's choreography and dance draws on her early life experience with poverty and oppression. "Modern dance was originally an expression of social concern. This film illuminates both a period that needs to be recalled and a leading choreographer who grew out of that period." --Anna Kisselgoff, dance critic, New York Times.
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Ticket of No Return

A portrait of two unusual but also extremely different women. One rich, eccentric, hiding her feelings behind a rigid mask, consciously drinks herself to death. The other is a known drinker in town. In the course of the story they try to get to know each other, but they cannot come together. The background is Berlin, thrown open to a grotesque kind of sightseeing (drinkers’ geography) and complemented by authentic contributions from people who live here or are visiting, rock singers, writers, artist, taxi drivers. With Tabea Blumenschein, Magdalena Montezuma, Nina Hagen and Eddie Constantine.
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Killing Time/Fannie's Film

Part of the mediamaking movement that first gave centrality to the voices and experiences of African American women during the late Seventies and early Eighties, these two re-releases are no less groundbreaking today. KILLING TIME, an offbeat, wryly humorous look at the dilemma of a would-be suicide unable to find the right outfit to die in, examines the personal habits, socialization, and complexities of life that keep us going. In FANNIE'S FILM, a 65-year-old cleaning woman for a professional dancers' exercise studio performs her job while telling us in voiceover about her life, hopes, goals, and feelings. A challenge to mainstream media's ongoing stereotypes of women of color who earn their living as domestic workers, this seemingly simple documentary achieves a quiet revolution: the expressive portrait of a fully realized individual.
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Riddles of the Sphinx

Laura Mulvey, author of the seminal essay Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema , helped to establish feminist film theory as a legitimate field of study. With Peter Wollen, she directed one of the most visually stimulating, theoretically rigorous films to emerge from the 1970s. RIDDLES OF THE SPHINX is a landmark fusion of feminism and formal experimentation that seeks to create a non-sexist film language. Its title figure, the legendary creature of antiquity, terrorized Thebes and self-destructed only after Oedipus correctly answered her riddle. Invoking and challenging traditional interpretations of the Oedipus story as a movement from matriarchal culture to patriarchal order, the film also probes representation in film itself. The central narrative section, about Louise, a middle-class woman, and her four-year-old daughter Ana, is an inquiry into the arbitrary nature of conventional film techniques that captures Louise's struggles with motherhood in a patriarchal society.
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La Nouba des Femmes du Mont-Chenoua

Finally available in the United States, this classic film from acclaimed novelist and filmmaker Assia Djebar is essential viewing for an understanding of women in Algeria. Taking its title and structure from the “Nouba," a traditional song of five movements, this haunting film mingles narrative and documentary styles to document the creation of women’s personal and cultural histories. Returning to her native region 15 years after the end of the Algerian war, Lila is obsessed by memories of the war for independence that defined her childhood. In dialogue with other Algerian women, she reflects on the differences between her life and theirs. In lyrical footage she contemplates the power of grandmothers who pass down traditions of anti-colonial resistance to their heirs. Reading the history of her country as written in the stories of women’s lives, Assia Djebar’s LA NOUBA DES FEMMES DU MONT-CHENOUA is an engrossing portrait of speech and silence, memory and creation, and a tradition where the past and present coexist. Widely hailed as one of the most important figures in francophone Maghrebian literature, Djebar is the author of more than a dozen books, including A SISTER TO SCHEHEREZADE and WOMEN OF ALGIERS IN THEIR APARTMENT. She is currently Professor and Director of the Center for French and Francophone Studies at the Louisiana State University.
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Madame X: An Absolute Ruler

"Ulrike Ottinger has a larger body of work than almost any other lesbian filmmaker, and her rarely seen first feature contains most of the elements that make her work so unique and ahead of its time. In this extravagantly aestheticized, postmodern pirate film she appropriates the male genre for feminist allegory. Madame X — the cruel, uncrowned ruler of the China seas — promises "gold, love, and adventure" to all women who'll leave their humdrum lives behind. Gathered aboard her ship, Orlando, are a range of types: a frumpy housewife, a glamorous diva, a psychologist, a very German outdoorswoman, a bush pilot, an artist (played by Yvonne Rainer), and a "native" beauty. Their utopia devolves into betrayal and self-destruction—leading to eventual transformation—as the power games of the outside world are ritualized among the women. Tabea Blumenschein, who designed the film's outrageous costumes, appears in a dual role as the pirate queen and the ship's lovely, leather clad figurehead. Refusing conventional storytelling and realism for a rich, non-synchronous soundtrack, the film invites its audience along for an unprecedented journey that celebrates the marginal." — Patricia White, Swarthmore College
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In the Best Interests of the Children

This groundbreaking film on lesbian mothering portrays the diversity of experience, race and class among eight lesbian mothers and their children.
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Syvilla

A portrait of Syvilla Fort focusing on the beauty of her choreography, the virtuosity of her dancing, and her role as teacher of a generation of African American dancers.
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A Minor Altercation

A fight between an African American and a white schoolgirl in Boston is explored in all its complexity in this fact-based drama from one of the producers of EYES ON THE PRIZE.
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Healthcaring

A classic chronicle of women's relationship to gynecology and healthcare, produced by Women Make Movies. In this bold and sensitive documentary, women of all ages and backgrounds speak candidly of their experiences with the healthcare system. HEALTHCARING documents the growing number of women who are questioning longstanding medical practices and working to implement alternative and more effective health care. The positive, warm style of the film encourages women to share their own experiences and gain a better sense of their right to receive better healthcare.
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After the Earthquake

This dramatic story follows a young Nicaraguan immigrant, Irene, as she faces the challenges of life in the U.S. and re-evaluates her relationships with her boyfriend and family. AFTER THE EARTHQUAKE explores the immigrant experience, particularly the cultural, political and economic differences between life in North and Latin America. Written with Nina Serrano, Lourdes Portillo was nominated for an Academy Award for her next film, LAS MADRES DE LA PLAZA DE MAYO, produced with Susana Munoz.
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Daughter Rite

"Daughter Rite is a classic, the missing link between the 'direct Cinema' documentaries and the later hybrids that acknowledged truth couldn't always be found in front of a camera lens. Scandalous in its day for bending the rules of representation to enlighten its audience about filmmaking, DAUGHTER RITE has a lot to teach folks hooked on reality TV, too. Citron's documentary inquiries into feminism, women in the trades, and feminist approaches to media representation are time capsules that merit re-opening." -B. Ruby Rich, author of " Chick Flicks: Theories and Memories of the Feminist Film Movement" Includes special bonus feature, WHAT YOU TAKE FOR GRANTED, also by Michelle Citron.
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Invisible Adversaries

Breaking free of conventional unities of body, space and time, this early feature by one of Europe's leading feminist filmmakers is a haunting excursion into psychic disintegration and crumbling identity. It loosely covers one year in the life of Anna, a young Viennese photographer increasingly convinced that the Hyksos, a hostile alien force, are invading people's bodies and responsible for the decay and rising violence around her. Valie Export skillfully exploits montage and integrates video, performance and installation art with elements from Cubism, Surrealism, Dada and avant-garde cinema.
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Divine Horsemen-The Living Gods of Haiti

A journey into the fascinating world of the Voudoun religion edited from footage shot by Deren in Haiti.
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Womanhouse

WOMANHOUSE is an historic documentary about one of the most important feminist cultural events of the 1970s. Judy Chicago (best-known as the creator of THE DINNER PARTY) and Miriam Shapiro rented an old Hollywood mansion and altered its interior through decor and set-pieces to "search out and reveal the female experience...the dreams and fantasies of women as they sewed, cooked, washed and ironed away their lives." WOMANHOUSE is a fascinating historical look at feminism, its reception in the 1970s, and the ever-important relationship between art and social change.
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The Yellow Wallpaper

This short dramatic film brings to life the classic Charlotte Perkins Gilman story of the same name, which has become an important addition to American literature course curricula. Set in the late 1800s, the story features Elizabeth, an aspiring writer who becomes ill and is forced by her doctor and her husband to take a "rest cure." Completely isolated, her mind creates a world inside the wallpaper in her room-a world in which a woman is trapped and unable to escape.
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Mother of Many Children

Composed of a series of vignettes featuring Native women from different first nations, this classic work by Alanis Obomsawin, an Abenaki, reflects a proud matriarchal culture that for centuries has been pressured to adopt the values and traditions of white society. By tracing the cycle of Native women's lives from birth to childhood, puberty, young adulthood, maturity and old age, the film shows how Native women have struggled to regain a sense of equality, instilled cultural pride in their children and passed on their stories and language to younger generations. Produced by the National Film Board of Canada.
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Chicana

CHICANA traces the history of Chicana and Mexican women from pre-Columbian times to the present. It covers women's role in Aztec society, their participation in the 1810 struggle for Mexican independence, their involvement in the US labor strikes in 1872, their contributions to the 1910 Mexican revolution and their leadership in contemporary civil rights causes. Using murals, engravings and historical footage, CHICANA shows how women, despite their poverty, have become an active and vocal part of the political and work life in both Mexico and the United States.
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