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 HERETICS

Tracing the influence of the Women’s Movement’s Second Wave on art and life, THE HERETICS is the exhilarating inside story of the New York feminist art collective that produced “Heresies: A Feminist Publication on Art and Politics” (1977-92). In this feature-length documentary, cutting-edge video artist/writer/director Joan Braderman, who joined the group in 1975 as an aspiring filmmaker, charts the collective’s challenges to terms of gender and power and its history as a microcosm of the period’s broader transformations. On the road with her camera crew from New Mexico to Italy, Braderman reconnects with 28 other group members, including writer/critic Lucy Lippard, architect Susanna Torre, filmmaker Su Friedrich, and artists Ida Applebroog, Mary Miss, Miriam Schapiro, and Cecilia Vicuña. Still funny, smart and sexy, the geographically dispersed participants revisit how and why they came together and the extraordinary times they shared—supporting and exploring women’s art and demanding the right to be heard. Enlivened by striking digital motion graphics, THE HERETICS intercuts interviews with archival film clips, video and stills from the period, texts and images from “Heresies” magazines, and footage of completed artworks and works-in-progress. An exuberant, multi-layered collage, the film brings the Heresies collective—and its strategies for unlocking the potential in women’s lives—vividly to the screen.
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Who's Afraid of Kathy Acker?

A multi-layered work featuring animation, archival footage and interviews with the likes of William Burroughs, Carolee Schneemann and Richard Hell, Who’s Afraid of Kathy Acker by Austrian artist Barbara Caspar and co-produced by Annette Pisacane (Nico Icon) and Markus Fischer, is a thoughtful and creative film biography/essay on the late outlaw writer and punk icon, whose formally inventive novels, published from the ’70s through the mid-’90s, challenged assumptions about gender roles, sexuality, and the literary canon. A beguiling and intensely contradictory figure, Acker is best known for books which creatively appropriated texts from Great White Male writers, retelling them in an emotionally raw, sexually blunt, and politically questioning female voice. With her conceptual art videos in the ’70s, her close-cropped dyed blond hair, her tattoos, and her piercings, Acker was a performance artist, proto riot grrl, and living link to the transgressive authors of the ’50s and ’60s US and French experimental fiction scenes. Caspar has made a film that captures the essence of both Acker the writer and Acker the person while celebrating the avant-garde legacy of an artist who forever expanded the limits of self-expression. — Scott Macaulay, Filmmaker Magazine
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Night Passage

Made in homage to Kenji Miyazawa’s children’s sci-fi classic MILKY WAY RAILROAD, NIGHT PASSAGE is the latest experimental feature from celebrated filmmaker Trinh T. Minh-ha and artist Jean Paul Bourdier (REASSEMBLAGE, THE FOURTH DIMENSION, A TALE OF LOVE, SHOOT FOR THE CONTENTS, SURNAME VIET GIVEN NAME NAM). This provocative digital tale tells the story of three young friends traveling for a brief moment together on the train between life and death. Their journey into and out of the land of ‘awakened dreams’ occurs on a long ride on a night train. Ingeniously framed through the train window, filmmaker Trinh T. Minh-ha and artist Jean Paul Bourdier create whimsical and sensual dreamscapes, which is matched by an equally beautiful and other-worldly music score. Once again, Minh-ha shifts the way she engages with the form and the spirit of the cinema—to challenge and provoke her audience.
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Europlex

The fourth in Ursula Biemann's critically acclaimed series of video essays that investigates migration across borders, EUROPLEX, a collaboration with Angela Sanders, tracks the daily, sometimes illicit, border crossings between Morocco and Spain- a rare intersection of the first and third worlds. Paying off officials to look the other way, workers smuggle contraband across the border, sometimes crossing up to 11 times a day. In a now common scenario of global economics, Moroccan women work in North Africa to produce goods destined for the European market. And in perhaps the most surreal example of border logic, domesticas commute into a Spanish enclave in Moroccan territory, losing two hours as they step into the European time zone. With a mesmerizing soundtrack and a dizzying blend of video footage, digital graphics and text, the film exposes a fascinating, often hidden layer in the cultural and economic landscape between Europe and Africa- revealing the new rules and profound implications of globalization.
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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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Remote Sensing

In Biemann’s film, she traces the routes and reasons of women who travel across the globe for work in the sex industry. By using the latest images from NASA satellites, the film investigates the consequences of the U.S. military presence in southeast Asia as well as European migration politics. This essay takes an earthly perspective on cross-border circuits, where women have emerged as key actors and expertly links new geographic technologies to the sexualization and displacement of women on a global scale. By revealing how technologies of marginalization affect women in their sexuality, REMOTE SENSING aspires to displace and resignify the feminine within sexual difference and cultural representation.
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The Fourth Dimension

Acclaimed filmmaker Trinh T. Minh-ha ventures into the digital realm with her stunning new feature, THE FOURTH DIMENSION, an incisive and insightful examination of Japan through its art, culture, and social rituals. As is the case with Trinh's previous films, her new film is a multi-layered work addressing issues around its central theme: the experience of time, the impossibility of truly "seeing," and the impact of video on image-making. THE FOURTH DIMENSION is an elegant meditation on time, travel, and ceremony in the form of a journey. In her first foray into digital video, Minh-ha deconstructs the role of ritual in mediating between the past and the present. She explains, "Shown in their widespread functions and manifestations, including more evident loci such as festivals, religious rite and theatrical performance, 'rituals' involve not only the regularity in the structure of everyday life, but also the dynamic agents in the world of meaning." With its lush imagery, Minh-ha's Japan is viewed through mobile frames, with doors and windows sliding shut, revealing new vistas as it blocks out the old light. “Trinh T. Minh-ha’s newest essayistic work and her first videotape, cuts an intricate key for unlocking this elusive culture. Her tack finds great visual pleasure in the everyday, composing and decomposing the social landscape, while constructing a poetic grid of temporalities, symbolic meaning, and ritual. In THE FOURTH DIMENSION, Trinh’s lyrical narration guides us through ‘Japan’s likeness,’ the perfected framing of the sacramental familiar.” - Steve Seid
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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 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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Grrlyshow

An 18 minute explosion of fringe feminism and print media, The GRRLYSHOW is a powerful and rebellious message from new voices often left unheard. Filmmaker Kara Herold examines the girly Zine revolution and culture in such a way that the film intellectually and stylistically addresses anyone's question concerning whether or not feminism has reached it's 3rd wave: the postmodern. By interweaving head-shot interviews, clips from the zines and 1950's television-esque vignettes, Herold clearly illustrates feminism's ability to exist subversively within a system that generally doesn't give women their own voice . The GRRLYSHOW successfully brings to the surface alternative voices and projects that are vital to the continuation and expansion of feminism. An excellent film for mass communication, women's studies and pop culture courses. "A perky peek at the alternative media community where self-publishing gals are doin' it for themselves. Aware, irreverent, entertaining, even brilliant, these zine creators relish the irony that to speak in one's unique unfettered voice is to touch others more powerfully than with the traditional blanded-down mainstream mag approach. Viva the grrly zines!" Al Hoff, Pittsburgh City Paper & Creator, Thrift Score zine
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Joan Does Dynasty/Joan Sees Stars

In the now classic, JOAN DOES DYNASTY (1986, 35 mins), Braderman superimposes her own image over scenes from one of the most popular night time soap operas in American history. With spearing humor, Braderman doesn't even spare poor Krystal in her wicked deconstruction of the fantasies of capitalism, patriarchy and consumption. JOAN SEES STARS (1993, 60 mins) is a savvy peek at the way celebrity culture, especially movies stars, make their way in to our lives, our beds and our dreams. "Braderman looks at life through rose-colored glasses, then wipes them off and dishes the dirt. JOAN SEES STARS is no exception: movies meet life, life meets death and romance meets Perdue chicken in the meditation on our illicit VCR pleasures. Watch, and eat your heart out." --B. Ruby Rich, Cultural Critic
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Visitors of the Night

The failures of the ethnographic endeavor to discover “reality” are revealed in this expository and experimental film. The narrator-ethnographer embarks on an expedition to encounter the Mosuo, an isolated and matrilinear tribe in the mountains of South West China. Their society is built on the principle of the axia-relationship, ties between ‘visitors of the night.’ This means that a man only stays in his wife’s house at night and during the day he works for the benefit of his grandmother. Since men and women do not have economical obligations, their unique, polyandric relationships are based on love only. Recently due to funding by the Han government, The Lugu region has turned into a major touristic area, where tradition and modernity clash -- particularly when the polyandry of the Mosuo is seen as prostitution by outsiders. Van Dienderen, a visual anthropologist, playfully reveals the distance between textual knowledge and the experience of a cinematographic journey in a thoughtful and fascinating documentary.
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Don't Fence Me In

Against the broader backdrop of modern India's political and social history, this lyrical documentary tells the story of the life of Krishna Sikand, the filmmaker's mother, from childhood to maturity. A rich mosaic of memory and impressions, DON'T FENCE ME IN captures the fragmented way in which we journey back through time. Evoking Krishna's earliest years in pre-independence Bombay as the daughter of a well-to-do Bengali family, the film also traces her post-colonial experiences--from marriage to a Punjabi army officer in the face of fierce family opposition, through the raising of two daughters and successful careers as an academic, small business entrepreneur, media consultant, journalist, and poet. Black-and-white photos of Krishna as a child and young woman are juxtaposed with clips from home movies shot by the filmmaker's father nearly thirty years ago, and recent location footage. Krishna's personal narrative is highlighted by her wonderful letters to her daughter and the poems that serve as milestones in her life.
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Performing the Border

A video essay set in the Mexican-U.S. border town of Ciudad Juarez, where U.S. multinational corporations assemble electronic and digital equipment just across from El Paso, Texas. This imaginative, experimental work investigates the growing feminization of the global economy and its impact on Mexican women living and working in the area. Looking at the border as both a discursive and material space, the film explores the sexualization of the border region through labor division, prostitution, the expression of female desires in the entertainment industry, and sexual violence in the public sphere. Candid interviews with Mexican women factory and sex workers, as well as activists and journalists, are combined with scripted voiceover analysis, screen text, scenes and sounds recorded on site, and found footage to give new insights into the gendered conditions inscribed by the high-tech industry at its low-wage end.
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Heaven

This playful film from famed director and photographer Tracey Moffatt turns the tables on traditional representations of desire to examine the power of the female gaze in the objectification of men’s bodies. HEAVEN begins with surreptitiously filmed documentary footage of brawny surfers changing in and out of bathing and wet-suits. While the soundtrack switches between the ocean surf and male chanting, Moffatt moves closer to alternately flirt with and tease her subjects, who respond with a combination of preening and macho reticence. This witty piece is a potent and hilarious meditation on cinematic and everyday sex roles, voyeurism, power, and the thin line between admiration and invasiveness.
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There Was An Unseen Cloud, Moving

A deft and intentionally fragmented "biography" of Isabelle Eberhardt, a Victorian traveler who, dressed as an Arab man, became a Muslim and a writer in Algeria at the turn of the century.
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Trick or Drink

Vanalyne Green's childhood world, growing up with alcoholic parents, is recreated through crayon drawings, family albums, excerpts from her adolescent diary and her interpretation of subsequent events in her life-including her own bulimia and her relationships with men.
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A Spy in the House that Ruth Built

Vanalyne Green appropriates the all-male arena of professional baseball to create a visual essay about family, loss, and sexuality. Confronted with such a strange wonderland, devoid of women, Green is compelled to reinterpret baseball's symbolism-its womb-like landscape, cycles, and rituals-to construct an iconography that pays homage to the female. With humor and irony, Green creates a film that is both a personal revelation and a heretical portrait of America's national past-time.
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Underexposed

Combining drama and documentary, UNDEREXPOSED: THE TEMPLE OF THE FETUS is a savvy and creative probe into high-tech baby-making. The fictional framework of a TV journalist who unearths the ethical complications associated with new reproductive technologies allows thefilm to present complex documentary information about this issue in a clear and insightful way. From the director of I NEED YOUR FULL COOPERATION.
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I Need Your Full Cooperation/Underexposed

In these two compelling films, Kathy High explores the relationship between women’s bodies and the medical institution. Now a classic, I NEED YOUR FULL COOPERATION (1989, 28 mins) is a critical commentary on the patriarchal medical world and the past experimental techniques used to control female sexuality and reproductive capacities. Combining drama and documentary, UNDEREXPOSED: THE TEMPLE OF THE FETUS, (1992, 72 mins) is a savvy and creative documentary probe into the high-tech baby-making market and emerging reproductive technologies.
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History and Memory: For Akiko and Takashige

Groundbreaking and haunting, this film is a poetic composition of recorded history and non-recorded memory. Filmmaker Rea Tajiri’s family was among the 120,000 Japanese and Japanese Americans who were imprisoned in internment camps after the attack on Pearl Harbor. And like so many who were in the camps, Tajiri’s family wrapped their memories of that experience in a shroud of silence and forgetting. Ruminating on the difficult nature of representing the past – especially a past that exists outside traditional historic accounts – Tajiri blends interviews, memorabilia, a pilgrimage to the camp where her mother was interned, and the story of her father, who had been drafted pre-Pearl Harbor and returned to find his family’s house removed from its site. Throughout, she surveys the impact of images (real images, desired images made real, and unrealized dream images). The film draws from a variety of sources: Hollywood spectacle, government propaganda, newsreels, memories of the living, and sprits of the dead, as well as Tajiri’s own intuitions of a place she has never visited, but of which she has a memory. More than simply calling attention to the gaps in the story of the Japanese American internment, this important film raises questions about collective history – questions that prompt Tajiri to daringly re-imagine and re-create what has been stolen and what has been lost.
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Measures of Distance

In this resonant work, Palestinian-born video and performance artist Mona Hatoum explores the renewal of friendship between mother and daughter during a brief family reunion in war-torn Lebanon in 1981. Through letters read in voice-over and Arabic script overlaying the images, the viewer experiences the silence and isolation imposed by war. The politics of the family and the exile of the Palestinian people are inseparable in this forceful, moving film.
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