Forgetting Vietnam

One of the myths surrounding the creation of Vietnam involves a fight between two dragons whose intertwined bodies fell into the South China Sea and formed Vietnam’s curving S-shaped coastline. Influential feminist theorist and filmmaker Trinh T. Minh-ha’s lyrical film essay commemorating the 40th anniversary of the end of the war draws inspiration from ancient legend and from water as a force evoked in every aspect of Vietnamese culture. Minh-ha’s classic Surname Viet Given Name Nam (1989) used no original footage shot in the country; in Forgetting Vietnam images of contemporary life unfold as a dialogue between land and water—the elements that form the term "country." Fragments of text and song evoke the echoes and traces of a trauma of international proportions. The encounter between the ancient as related to the solid earth, and the new as related to the liquid changes in a time of rapid globalization, creates a third space of historical and cultural re-memory—what local inhabitants, immigrants and veterans remember of yesterday’s stories to comment on today’s events.
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Ulrike Ottinger - Nomad from the Lake

This intimate personal portrait of Ulrike Ottinger, a unique, influential voice in women’s cinema for over four decades, begins at the lakeside city of Constance, where she was born and started her career. Describing key moments in her life, including the impact of student protests in Paris and her move from painting to filmmaking, Kramer traces Ottinger’s artistic development. Excerpts from her films, notably Madame X; Dorian Gray in the Mirror of the Yellow Press; Johana d’Arc of Mongolia; and documentaries shot in Asia (recently released by WMM), explore her luxuriant cinematic style combining fact and fiction in opulent, idiosyncratic images. Interviews with collaborators and friends offer further insights into Ottinger’s singular body of work. A richly rewarding close-up of the woman director who, along with Margarethe von Trotta and Helke Sander, helped launch New German Cinema on world screens, ULRIKE OTTINGER—NOMAD FROM THE LAKE is an indispensable companion for any Ottinger film.
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The Phantom of the Operator

This wry and delightful found-footage film reveals a little-known chapter in labor history: the story of female telephone operators’ central place in the development of global communications. With an eye for the quirky and humorous, Caroline Martel assembles a dazzling array of clips – more than one hundred remarkable, rarely seen industrial, advertising and scientific management films produced in North America between 1903 and 1989 by Bell and Western Electric – and transforms them into a dreamlike montage documentary. As the first agents of globalization, this invisible army of women offered a way for companies to feminize and glamorize what was a highly stressful, underpaid and difficult job. Not merely "Voices with a Smile," telephone operators were shooting stars in a universe of infinite progress, test pilots for new management systems, and the face of shrewd public relations campaigns. As the work of operators has been eclipsed by the advent of automated systems, this artful piece of labor history also offers an insightful comment on women’s work, industrialization and communications technology. Refreshing and hilarious, THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERATOR provides a wry yet ethereal portrait of human society in the technocratic age.
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I Wonder What You Will Remember of September

Cecilia Cornejo presents a haunting personal response to the events of September 11, 2001, informed and complicated by her status as a Chilean citizen living in the U.S. With evocative imagery from both past and present, Cornejo weaves together her own fading childhood memories, her parents vivid recollections of the September 11, 1973 coup in Chile that brought the notorious dictator Augusto Pinochet to power; and post-9/11 conversations with her own young daughter. The resulting montage thoughtfully explores how personal and collective histories intersect, as well as how trauma is lived, supposedly erased, and passed on from one generation to the next. The filmmaker also alludes to what she believes is a deep contradiction within the American consciousness, one that makes it possible to view the 9/11/01 attacks as tragedy, while failing to interpret “outside” events such as the Chilean coup or the invasion of Iraq as such. Cornejo’s mesmerizing experimental film provides a striking new context with which to view the World Trade Center attacks— from the point of view of an immigrant whose home country has endured its own tragedies.
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Buoyant

Julie Wyman’s ebullient experimental documentary intertwines the story of the Padded Lilies, a troupe of fat synchronized swimmers, Archimedes, the Greek mathematician obsessed with floating bodies, and the inventor of the “Drystroke Swimulator” to investigate, proclaim and celebrate the fact that fat floats! As the Padded Lillies prepare for their appearance on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno", BUOYANT follows their rigorous training and strategizing as they promote their message of body-acceptance, fat-empowerment, and fitness at any size. A school-marmish voiceover moves on to tell the story of Archimedes, classical Greek mathematician and discoverer of pi, as he tackles one of his more difficult problems: how to measure the volume of an irregularly shaped object. The final vignette, performed by Wyman herself, captures the trials and tribulations of the inventor at work on the “Drystroke Swimulator” (patent pending) -- a contraption designed to allow its user to swim outside of water. Giddy and irreverent, moving fluidly between color and black and white, video and film, handheld and locked-down camera styles, Buoyant draws attention to its own surface and leaves us with the exuberant possibility of a fat body that literally and culturally rises, like cream, to the top.
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Heaven’s Crossroad

HEAVEN'S CROSSROAD traces an impressionistic journey through Vietnam exploring the nuances and complexities of “looking” cross-culturally. Structured in a series of observational yet stylized vignettes, this visually driven experimental documentary investigates shifting relationships of voyeurism and intimacy, while linking the observer with the observed. Takesue’s mesmerizing cinematography captures sweeping country landscapes and cities in motion, provoking questions about what it means to truly see another culture. HEAVEN'S CROSSROAD charts a singular journey yet it also explores common desires which surface through travel: the desire to be transported to another place; to communicate beyond language; the desire to arrest time and repossess a moment, a glance, a feeling, an encounter—transforming mundane events into moments of surprising beauty and an utterly new way of seeing.
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The Trickle Down Theory of Sorrow

Veteran experimental filmmaker Mary Filippo tackles issues of work, class and gender roles in this visually captivating and provocative autobiographical piece. At the core of this engaging autobiographical film is an interview with Filippo’s mother, as she recounts incidents of exploitation and gender discrimination she experienced working in jewelry factories in the 1940’s and 50’s. The filmmaker contrasts her mother’s quiet acquiescence with her own attitudes about the social injustices of her culture through a striking montage of images and audio clips - moving the viewer to consider connections between consumerism and global labor practices, motherhood, money and happiness. While her mother's attitude toward the social injustices she endured is one of resignation, Filippo’s is one of assumed but uncollected responsibility.
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Through the Skin

In this highly personal experimental autobiography, emerging filmmaker Elliot Montague presents a daring meditation on the experience and trauma of growing up androgynous. Incorporating home movies with vintage health public service announcements, along with his own performance pieces, Elliot jarringly discloses the conflicts between his changing female body with that of his gender and sexual identity. Through a montage of images set against a dissonant soundtrack, he speaks about the misunderstandings and tensions his identity struggle caused his family and the depression that later resulted. In scenes where Elliot binds his breasts, he painfully discloses how his parents sent him to a psychologist who diagnosed him with bi-polar disorder – a diagnosis that later proved to be incorrect. Exploring the complexities and implications of feeling androgynous in a female body, THROUGH THE SKIN presents more than a personal testimony on the transgender experience, it provokes universal questions on the meaning of gender.
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Elida Schogt Trilogy

Elida Schogt’s deeply personal trilogy of short documentaries on Holocaust memory: ZYKLON PORTRAIT (1999), THE WALNUT TREE (2000) and SILENT SONG (2001) have been screened around the globe, garnering numerous awards. This trilogy includes: ZYKLON PORTRAIT, a Holocaust film without Holocaust imagery that combines archival instructional films with family snapshots, home movies, underwater photography, and hand-painted imagery for an expressive exploration of how history and memory are related to one family's loss. THE WALNUT TREE examines Holocaust memory, the family, and the role of photography in history through a striking combination of documentary and experimental approaches. As its point of departure, the film shows three girls in Dutch costumes posing for their father's camera. This sweet but fleeting moment, made static in a snapshot, is contrasted with live-action images of railway tracks--tracks that carried the death transports--now blurred by the passage of time. “In SILENT SONG Schogt deftly conjures an elaborate dialogue around issues of memory in its various forms - personal, historical, filmic… [her] rich and nuanced economy of style is brilliantly illustrated here as these meditations lead to the most basic, yet most cogent statements on the nature of memory itself. Perhaps more importantly, Schogt points to the unstable nature of the recorded image, one that history has come to rely on.” - Barbara Goslawski, Independent Film Critic and Curator, Toronto
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Amazonia

In this highly personal and visually evocative testimonial, critically acclaimed South Asian filmmaker Nandini Sikand poignantly presents her sister’s triumphal recovery from the emotional and physical scars of breast cancer. Lyrically incorporating poetry, experimental video and Super-8 montage, this moving piece looks at the myth of Amazonian women - warriors who were said to have cut off their right breast to become better archers - and compares their legendary battles to the war being waged against breast cancer. As Sikand’s sister reads passages describing her fight with the disease, the geography of her body is explored and compared to the scarred landscape of the urban environment. Traversing the pulsating and dizzying streets, the city and body become one to highlight women’s lives as triumphant urban warriors. Moving and inspiring, this short experimental film is a tribute to all women who have struggled with breast cancer.
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All Water Has a Perfect Memory

ALL WATER HAS A PERFECT MEMORY is a poignant experimental documentary that explores the effects of tragedy and remembrance on a bi-cultural family. At seven months old, filmmaker Natalia Almada lost her two-year-old sister, Ana Lynn, in a drowning accident at her childhood home in Mexico. Inspired by an essay written by Toni Morrison, in which she speaks of the Mississippi River’s ability to conjure memories, this moving piece serves as a meditation on the cultural and gender differences between the filmmaker’s North American mother and Mexican father in the face of their daughter’s death. Through personal recollections narrated by each family member, including her brother, Almada incorporates Super-8 home movies, photographs and fabricated images to weave together a touching and moving visual memory of Ana Lynn.
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Silent Song

“In SILENT SONG Schogt deftly conjures an elaborate dialogue around issues of memory in its various forms - personal, historical, filmic… [her] rich and nuanced economy of style is brilliantly illustrated here as these meditations lead to the most basic, yet most cogent statements on the nature of memory itself. Perhaps more importantly, Schogt points to the unstable nature of the recorded image, one that history has come to rely on.” - Barbara Goslawski, Independent Film Critic and Curator, Toronto
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Beyond Voluntary Control

Acclaimed filmmaker Cathy Cook (THE MATCH THAT STARTED MY FIRE) breaks new cinematic territory by devising a new visual language that explores the psychological and emotional effects of physical confinement in her latest film, BEYOND VOLUNTARY CONTROL. Stimulating the senses through haunting and poetic images, the film imaginatively conveys the obsessions, phobias and illnesses constricting personal freedom. While lyrically meditating on the limits of the body, Cook incorporates the evocative movements of modern dancer, David Figueroa, and blends a mesmerizing soundtrack set to the poems by Emily Dickinson and Sharon Olds. Through Figueroa’s gestures and dance, along with a moving interview of Cook’s own mother suffering from Parkinson’s, the film succeeds in humanizing and reconciling the effects of physical metamorphosis and stasis. Through artistry and visual astuteness, BEYOND VOLUNTARY CONTROL innovatively investigates the limits of human physicality and movement.
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Closer

An experimental documentary which has at its heart a poignant character study of a 17 year-old lesbian living in Newcastle, England, CLOSER innovatively explores the process of documentary filmmaking and boldly challenges traditional forms of storytelling. Produced without a script and in close collaboration with the subject, Annelise Rodger, the filmmaker presents a hypnotizing array of montages and fictive sequences to introduce the day-to-day happenings of this extraordinary person. From the streets of Newcastle – where we find Annelise speaking frankly to the camera about her experiences as a young lesbian – to the emotionally charged reenactment of her coming out to her mother, this highly original film provides a rare auto-portrait where fiction and documentary collide. In the end what emerges is not only a remarkable encounter with a young woman, but also a story that has broader implications about being young, being at the cusp of adulthood, and finding one's identity. A Bridge & Tunnel Production.
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Writing Desire

"Ursula Biemann’s WRITING DESIRE is a video essay on the new dream screen of the Internet and how it impacts on the global circulation of women’s bodies from the third world to the first world. Although under-age Philippine 'pen pals' and post-Soviet mail-order brides have been part of the transnational exchange of sex in the post-colonial and post-Cold War marketplace of desire before the digital age, the Internet has accelerated these transactions. Biemann provides her viewers with a thoughtful meditation on the obvious political, economic and gender inequalities of these exchanges by simulating the gaze of the Internet shopper looking for the imagined docile, traditional, pre-feminist, but Web-savvy mate. WRITING DESIRE delights in implicating the viewer in the new voyeurism and sexual consumerism of the Web. However, it never fails to challenge pat assumptions about the impossibility for resistance and the absolute victimization of women who dare to venture out of the third world and onto the Internet to look for that very obscure object of desire promised by the men of the West. This film will promote lively discussion on third world women, the sex industry, mail order brides, racism and feminist backlashes in the West, and on women’s sexuality, desire, and new technologies." --Gina Marchetti, Ithaca College
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The Walnut Tree

Through a striking combination of documentary and experimental approaches, THE WALNUT TREE examines Holocaust memory, the family, and the role of photography in history. As its point of departure, the film shows three girls in Dutch costumes posing for their father's camera. This sweet but fleeting moment, made static in a snapshot, is contrasted with live-action images of railway tracks--tracks that carried the death transports--now blurred by the passage of time. Fragments of an interrupted childhood emerge in the matter-of-fact narration by the filmmaker's mother, recounting the fate of the family's photo album, her parents' walnut tree, and her final memories of her mother and father in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam. A follow-up to her award-winning ZYKLON PORTRAIT, Elida Schogt's latest film is an eloquent mediation on survival and the stories called forth from within and beyond the frame.
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Subrosa

SUBROSA traces a young woman's journey to Korea, the land of her birth, to find the mother she's never known. This exquisitely crafted drama probes the idealized, often false constructions of cultural and maternal identities wrought by the adoptee's return. SUBROSA tracks the unnamed heroine from a sterile adoption agency office to seedy bars and motel rooms on neon strips, then to a stark U.S. army camp town and the bustling flower markets of Seoul. Though her path to self-destruction and ultimate self-revelation ironically and tragically mirrors that of her imagined biological mother, the past remains elusive to her, the secret intact. Originally shot on digital video, the film captures the grit and garishness of an alien urban landscape while plumbing the melancholy dream space where the character retreats even as she searches for her very life. Brimming with surreal, breathtaking, elegiac imagery, this sensuously rendered tale of loss, love and longing resonates long after its shocking conclusion.
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The Basement Girl

Abandoned by her lover, a young woman finds comfort and safety in her basement apartment. Mundane routines, a diet of junk food and the warmth of the television insulate her from the pain and betrayal of her ill-fated relationship. Eventually, THE BASEMENT GIRL emerges—transformed and ready to "make it on her own". This latest film by Midi Onodera (TEN CENTS A DANCE, SKIN DEEP) breaks new cinematic territory by employing multiple formats from traditional 16mm film to toy cameras including a modified Nintendo Game Boy digital camera and the Intel Mattel computer microscope. "Midi Onodera's latest film is a witty and wonderful meditation on how women translate the images that surround them (from Bionic Woman to That Girl!, from Barbra Streisand to Maya Deren). The film is funny and touching at the same time, as it looks at familiar texts in new contexts. For anyone interested in women and visual culture, this is an absolute must-see." Judith Mayne, Ohio University
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Seven Hours To Burn

"A visually expressive personal documentary that explores a family's history. Filmmaker Thakur mixes richly abstract filmmaking with disturbing archival war footage to narrate the story of her Danish mother's and Indian father's experiences. Her mother survives Nazi-occupied Denmark while her father experiences the devastating civil war in India between Hindus and Muslims. Both émigrés to Canada, they meet and marry, linking two parallel wars. Their daughter lyrically turns these two separate histories into a visually rich poem linking past and present in a new singular identity." Doubletake Documentary Film Festival Catalogue
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Zyklon Portrait

A Holocaust film without Holocaust imagery, ZYKLON PORTRAIT combines archival instructional films with family snapshots, home movies, underwater photography, and hand-painted imagery for an expressive exploration of how history and memory are related to one family's loss. "...Elida Schogt's deeply moving portrait of her family's experience during the Holocaust...wisely privileges the subjective response over any attempts at historical objectivity. Beginning with a hypermeticulous analysis of Zyklon B, the gas used to kill millions in the concentration camps, the documentary approach quickly fractures into a necessarily personal one, underscoring the impossibility of making sense of the senseless. Skillfully weaving archival footage and the conventional documentary's dispassionate voice of authority with family photos and her mother's cautious words, Schogt creates a palpable tension between these irreconcilable elements. The commanding voice of the narrator continually dissolves into the reticent voice of her mother, whose insistence on the indescribable nature of these events resonates with an even greater legitimacy....The film is a fitting testament to the unspeakable nature of these horrors and to the courage of those who have to struggle to summon up the words to even begin to describe them." Barbara Goslawski, Take One: Film & Television in Canada
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Honey Moccasin

This all-Native production, by director Shelley Niro (Mohawk), is part of the Smoke Signals new wave of films that examine Native identity in the 1990’s. Set on the Grand Pine Indian Reservation, aka “Reservation X”, HONEY MOCCASIN combines elements of melodrama, performance art, cable access, and ‘whodunit’ to question conventions of ethnic and sexual identity as well as film narrative. A comedy/thriller complete with a fashion show and torchy musical numbers, this witty film employs a surreal pastiche of styles to depict the rivalry between bars The Smokin’ Moccasin and The Inukshuk Cafe, the saga of closeted drag queen/powwow clothing thief Zachary John, and the travails of crusading investigator Honey Moccasin. This irreverent reappropriation of familiar narrative strategies serves as a provocative spring-board for an investigation of authenticity, cultural identity, and the articulation of modern Native American experience in cinematic language and pop culture.
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Home Away from Home

A bittersweet drama that unfolds almost without dialogue, this prizewinning short film from Sankofa Film and Video conveys the isolation of immigrant women’s experiences. Miriam lives with her children in a cramped and dreary house near the airport where she works. The planes coming and going overhead remind her of how far removed she is from her rural African roots. Eventually Miriam constructs a beautiful mud hut in her garden, a magical space which takes her away from the loneliness crowding her suburban existence. Although her neighbors are intolerant, her daughter Fumi learns something about the African side of herself.
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Brincando El Charco

Refreshingly sophisticated in both form and content, BRINCANDO EL CHARCO contemplates the notion of “identity” through the experiences of a Puerto Rican woman living in the US. In a wonderful mix of fiction, archival footage, processed interviews and soap opera drama, BRINCANDO EL CHARCO tells the story of Claudia Marin, a middle-class, light-skinned Puerto Rican photographer/videographer who is attempting to construct a sense of community in the US. Confronting the simultaneity of both her privilege and her oppression, BRINCANDO EL CHARCO becomes a meditation on class, race and sexuality as shifting differences. BRINCANDO EL CHARCO was funded by the Independent Television Service (ITVS) with funds provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
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Lady Lazarus

LADY LAZARUS weaves a visual response to Sylvia Plath's own readings of her work, including DADDY, ARIEL and selections from THE BELL JAR. Elegiac but unsentimental, this evocative film celebrates the legendary writer, her macabre humor and the resonance of her words. Drawn irresistably towards Plath's haunting voice-recorded during the final years before her death in 1963-the film's figurative Lady Lazarus is a young woman who acts as a spiritual medium for the writer during a seance. Set in Massachusetts and England, where Plath spent her life, LADY LAZARUS translates Plath's poetry into a carousel of stark, deeply poetic imagery.
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Flaming Ears

FLAMING EARS is a pop sci-fi lesbian fantasy feature set in the year 2700 in the fictive burned-out city of Asche. It follows the tangled lives of three women -- Volley, Nun and Spy. Spy is a comic book artist whose printing presses are burned down by Volley, a sexed-up pyromaniac. Seeking revenge, Spy goes to the lesbian club where Volley performs every night. Before she can enter, Spy gets into a fight and is left wounded, lying in the streets. She is found by Nun--an amoral alien in a red plastic suit with a predilection for reptiles, and who also happens to be Volley’s lover. Nun takes her home and subsequently must hide her from Volley. It’s a story of love and revenge, and an anti-romantic plea for love in its many forms. An avowedly underground film which was shot on Super 8 and blown up to 16mm, FLAMING EARS is original for its playful disruption of narrative conventions (the story is a thread rather than a backbone in the film), its witty approach to film genre, and its visual splendor.
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Home Avenue

With commanding cinematic style, Montgomery retraces events of a night nine years ago when, between her boyfriend's dorm and her parent's house, she was raped at gunpoint. Super 8 camera in tow, she uncovers the psychology of the incident, relating how the authorities and her family tried to disavow her claims and the crime. Pondering the bland suburban landscape, her subsequent obsession with guns and the blurring of guilt, responsibility and betrayal, Montgomery boldly masters the trauma through memory, self-narration and artistic intervention. By the maker of ART FOR TEACHERS OF CHILDREN.
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Peggy and Fred in Kansas

A few years older now, our boy and girl heroes mumble and chant their way through mid- America's wasteland. Thornton's interest in the line between language and thought becomes disturbingly apparent.
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Cycles

Rasheeda Allen is waiting for her period, a state of anticipation familiar to all women. Drawing on Caribbean folklore, this exuberant experimental drama uses animation and live action to discover a film language unique to African American women. The multilayered soundtrack combines a chorus of women's voices with the music of Africa and the diaspora-including Miriam Makeba, acappella singers from Haiti and trumpetiste Clora Bryant.
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Seven Women-Seven Sins

What constitutes a deadly sin today? Seven of the world’s best-known women directors produce their own version of celluloid sin in this omnibus film. Helke Sander (THE GERMANS AND THEIR MEN) reverses GLUTTONY with her vision of Eve forcing her apples into the hands of a reluctant Adam. Bette Gordon (VARIETY, EMPTY SUITCASES) finds GREED during a fight in the ladies’ room of a luxury hotel over a lottery ticket. Strangers reply to director Maxi Cohen’s ad in a newspaper to share their litanies in ANGER. Award-winning director, Chantal Akerman, battles to overcome her SLOTH in order to complete her film, while Valie Export (INVISIBLE ADVERSARIES) strips bare notions of the skin trade in LUST. ENVY turns into murder in Laurence Gavron’s take on vice, and Ulrike Ottinger, whose work includes JOHANNA D'ARC OF MONGOLIA, illustrates PRIDE with a fantastical collage of allegory and images. SEVEN WOMEN - SEVEN SINS is the perfect introduction for those new to the world of women’s filmmaking and an interesting study in styles for those already familiar with the work of these seven innovative directors.
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Ana Mendieta

This beautiful film is a portrait of the life and work of Cuban-born American artist Ana Mendieta. Mendieta used her own body, the raw materials of nature, and Afro-Cuban religion to express her feminist political consciousness and poetic vision. Interview footage with Mendieta and her own filmed records of her earthworks and performances are incorporated to render a vivid testament to her energy and extraordinary talent after her tragic, untimely death in 1985. Spanish language version available.
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Peggy and Fred in Hell

The first installment of Leslie Thornton's ongoing epic follows two children, Peggy and Fred, through a densely cluttered, technological-consumer jumble of late 20th century icons.
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Adynata

A formal 1861 portrait of a Chinese Mandarin and his wife is the starting point for this allegorical investigation of the fantasies spawned in the West about the East, particularly that which associates femininity with the mysterious Orient. ADYNATA presents a series of oppositions-male and female images, past and present sounds-which in and of themselves construct a minimal and fragmentary narrative, an open text of our imaginations, fears and fantasies.
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The Films of Jane Campion

The internationally acclaimed director of THE PIANO, AN ANGEL AT MY TABLE and SWEETIE first displayed her visual flair and dark humor in these award-winning shorts. The compilation includes: A GIRL'S OWN STORY is about Beatlemania, the sixties and growing up. Some stories about girlhood: where family is strange, adutlhood lonely, and innocence perverse. PASSIONLESS MOMENTS is a series of wry vignettes: Sean and Arnold Not Speaking; Scotties, Part of the Grand Design of the Universe; Angela Eats Meats, Ironing on Sunday; and others... PEEL takes place on a hot Australian summer's day, a recalcitrant, freckled, red-headed family of three go on a Sunday drive in the country. Their outing results in an intrigue of awesome belligerence. Winner of the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival.
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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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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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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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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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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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The Films of Maya Deren

Maya Deren's fascinating and beautiful films are masterpieces of their era and provide an important insight into the history of the avant-garde. MESHES OF THE AFTERNOON (1943, 14 minutes), AT LAND (1944, 14 minutes, Silent), A STUDY IN CHOREOGRAPHY FOR CAMERA (1945, 3 minutes, Silent), RITUAL IN TRANSFIGURED TIME (1946, 15 minutes, Silent), MEDITATION ON VIOLENCE (1948, 13 minutes), and THE VERY EYE OF THE NIGHT (1959, 15 minutes).
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Helen Lee Compilation

Helen Lee’s internationally acclaimed short films are now available for purchase in a 3-DVD set. This compilation includes SALLY’S BEAUTY SPOT (1990), MY NIAGARA (1992) and SUBROSA (2000). (12 mins) SALLY'S BEAUTY SPOT - A large black mole above an Asian woman's breast serves as a metaphor for cultural and racial difference in this engaging experimental film. Offscreen women's voices and scenes from THE WORLD OF SUZIE WONG parallel and counterpoint Sally's own interracial relationships and emerging self-awareness. A provocative and stylish meditation on Asian femininity. (40 mins) MY NIAGARA - Grasping the texture of half-expressed desire, this beautifully drawn drama evokes the complex dislocations of an Asian American woman. Shadowed by the death of her mother, Julie Kumagai's life with her widower father is marked by pained, turbulent exchanges. Indifferent to a break-up with her boyfriend and the lure of a long-planned trip, she finds some refuge in her workplace where meets Tetsuro, a young Korean man newly emigrated from Japan who is obsessed with all things American. But together they discover no easy resolutions. MY NIAGARA was funded by the Independent Television Service (ITVS) with funds provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. (22 mins) SUBROSA traces a young woman's journey to Korea, the land of her birth, to find the mother she's never known. This exquisitely crafted drama probes the idealized, often false constructions of cultural and maternal identities wrought by the adoptee's return. SUBROSA tracks the unnamed heroine from a sterile adoption agency office to seedy bars and motel rooms on neon strips, then to a stark U.S. army camp town and the bustling flower markets of Seoul. Though her path to self-destruction and ultimate self-revelation ironically and tragically mirrors that of her imagined biological mother, the past remains elusive to her, the secret intact.
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