Learning to Swallow

Learning to Swallow is an intimate, haunting and ultimately empowering portrait of a bipolar artist’s courageous and successful attempt to rebuild her life after a suicide attempt destroys her digestive system. Patsy Desmond, a charismatic, emerging artist and “it girl” seemingly had it all: admiring friends and lovers, a prestigious work assignment with an internationally renowned artist in New York City and the potential to successfully realize her dreams in the art world. Yet in spite of this, Patsy struggled in an ongoing battle with bipolar disorder. An eventual failed suicide attempt leaves Patsy unable to swallow and in a battle for her life both emotionally and physically. Over four rocky years, we follow Patsy as she struggles to accept her physical condition, overcome addiction and learns to deal with the life she now faces: recovery and healing. Her inability to eat and her emotional state transform her artistic voice in the process. Filmmaker Danielle Beverly (OLD SOUTH) captures Patsy’s raw honesty and wit even as she becomes increasingly frail. By the end of the film, hope and an undying spirit prevail. Patsy renews her pact with art and life. Required viewing for psychology courses and studies around mental health.
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Suzy Lake: Playing with Time

Photographer Suzy Lake is one of the formative feminist artists to evolve out of the heyday of the 1960’s and the Second Wave. A master of the art of self-portraiture, Lake influenced Cindy Sherman as well as a host of other female artists. Lake makes art that address politics, gender, youth, beauty and aging while reflecting on her own journey through time. SUZY LAKE: PLAYING WITH TIME tells the story of how much has changed in the worlds of feminism and art, and yet how much things remain the same. Filming for almost 4 years, filmmaker Annette Mangaard weaves a powerful portrait of the complex artist by juxtaposing powerful archival footage, still photography and interviews with Lucy Lippard, Mary Beth Edelson and Martha Wilson among others. SUZY LAKE: PLAYING WITH TIME delves into Lake’s legacy as she continues to explore the politics of gender with work that deals with the aging woman, countering notions of consumer beauty with a different and real image, celebrating stamina, maturity and experience. An essential companion piece to any discussion on the Second Wave, feminism and art.
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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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Anna May Wong: In Her Own Words

Anna May Wong knew she wanted to be a movie star from the time she was a young girl—and by 17 she became one. A third generation Chinese-American, she went on to make dozens of films in Hollywood and Europe. She was one of the few actors to successfully transition from silent to sound cinema, co-starring with Marlene Dietrich, Anthony Quinn and Douglas Fairbanks along the way. She was glamorous, talented and cosmopolitan—yet she spent most of her career typecast either as a painted doll or a scheming dragon lady. For years, older generations of Chinese-Americans frowned upon the types of roles she played; but today a younger generation of Asian Americans sees her as a pioneering artist, who succeeded in a hostile environment that hasn’t altogether changed. Yunah Hong’s engrossing documentary is an entertaining and imaginative survey of Wong’s career, exploring the impact Wong had on images of Asian American women in Hollywood, both then and now. Excerpts from Wong’s films, archival photographs and interviews enhance this richly detailed picture of a woman and her extraordinary life.
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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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Bloodlines

Bettina Goering, grandniece of Hermann Goering, has long tried to bury the dark legacy of her family history. Painter Ruth Rich, a daughter of Holocaust survivors, cannot resolve her deep-rooted anger over the suffering of her parents and the loss of an older brother in the Holocaust. Bettina seeks out Ruth in an attempt to confront her enormous guilt and her fear that the capacity for evil is in her blood. When the women meet, their hidden guilt and rage clash in a series of intimate and extraordinary meetings. Provocative and deeply moving, BLOODLINES by Cynthia Connop follows Ruth and Bettina as they face the past in their quest to heal the future. Their meetings are interspersed with individual interviews, powerful images from Ruth’s paintings and archival photos. This contemporary film brings to light, in a way never before seen, the unwritten cost of war and genocide on future generations of both victims and perpetrators. Given recent events in Darfur, Rwanda and Serbia, this film provides relevant and timely insight into the difficult process of reconciliation and forgiveness, and the long-term consequences of hatred.
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Amy! and Frida Kahlo and Tina Modotti

WMM is pleased to release two early works by renowned film scholar Laura Mulvey, co-written and co-directed with Peter Wollen. Mulvey came to prominence in the early 1970s with her seminal essay Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema. One of the most widely cited and anthologized articles in the field of contemporary film theory, this groundbreaking work investigated questions of spectatorial identification and its relationship to the male gaze. With this essay and other articles, Mulvey helped establish feminist film theory as a legitimate field of study. AMY! (1980, 30 minutes) Amy Johnson was the first woman to fly solo from Great Britain to Australia. Mulvey and Wollen’s experimental documentary combines newsreel footage of the aviator’s arrival, dramatic recreations of events from her life and contemporary discussions by feminist groups on the subject of heroism in this most unconventional biopic. FRIDA KAHLO AND TINA MODOTTI (1983, 29 minutes) Originally commissioned for an international art exhibition this short film is an unconventional portrait of painter Frida Kahlo and photographer Tina Modotti. Simple in style but complex in its analysis,FRIDA KAHLO AND TINA MODOTTI explores the divergent themes and styles of two contemporary and radical women artists working in the upheaval of the aftermath of the Mexican Revolution.
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Black and White

BLACK AND WHITE shines a sensitive light on a subject that is too often either shunned or sensationalized: the experiences of intersex people (sometimes called hermaphrodites). This beautiful and stylish film artfully explores the potent creative collaboration between Mani Bruce Mitchell and the acclaimed photographer Rebecca Swan. Portrayed through this lens, Mitchell’s story introduces viewers to notions of fluid gender identity, challenging the rigid categories of “male” and “female.” At birth Mitchell was assigned the gender “male” but when investigative surgery subsequently revealed that “he” had ovaries, “Bruce” was renamed “Ruth” and reassigned the gender “female.” BLACK AND WHITE picks up on Mitchell’s story in 2005, weaving together her unflinching yet unexpectedly humorous insights, along with Swan’s descriptions of their creative collaboration on a book about gender identity. Documenting the way Mitchell boldly expresses her own intersex identity through the medium of art, the film challenges the viewer to see Mitchell for who s/he is. Combining intimate, present-day interviews with rich archival slides, photographs and film footage, as well as playful fragments of Super-8 stop-motion animation, BLACK AND WHITE is a stunning tribute to Mitchell’s courage and fierce commitment to change.
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Filming Desire:

“In this bold documentary Marie Mandy asks the question: how do women directors film love, desire, and, especially, sexuality? In rare interviews with many of the leading women directors working in the world today – including Sally Potter, Agnès Varda, Catherine Breillat, Doris Dörrie, Deepa Mehta, Moufida Tlatli, Safi Faye, and Jane Campion – FILMING DESIRE: A JOURNEY THROUGH WOMEN'S CINEMA directly engages the sexual politics of cinematographic choice. Powerfully illustrated with film clips from their own work, the directors discuss the reality of an explicit women’s point of view, the possibility of a women’s cinematic language, and the desire in their films to ‘fantasize and dream a new image of themselves’. While discussing how their depictions of sexuality and relationships are correctives, they also reflect on the sexual differences in selection of image, shot, and story. The film also provides a virtual anthology of the debates about the body, sexuality, power, and passion one sees in contemporary feminist and film theory: the body in representation and image; as a subject of censorship; as the vehicle of desire and love; as the contested ground of cinematic production; and as part of women’s identity and voice. Explicit, funny and beautifully edited, FILMING DESIRE weaves an intriguing essay that is international in scope and reflective of the great diversity of women filmmakers. Essential viewing for classes in women’s studies, film studies, sexuality, body image, and feminist theory.” – Joseph Boles, Visiting Scholar, Center for Visual Culture, Bryn Mawr
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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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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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Artist

Internationally acclaimed photographer and filmmaker Tracey Moffatt takes the viewer on a fast-paced journey through Hollywood's depiction of the artist. Using a wealth of clips from classic cinema bio pics and popular television sitcoms, the voyage spans centuries of art and art-making to reveal how five decades of mainstream media have perceived the creative process and creators themselves. A lively music track underscores the fervor and passion we have come to associate with artists and their typical one-dimensional representations on the large and small screen. Punctuated by recurrent gestures--the confident whisk of the paint brush, the futile laugh of frustration, and the violent destruction of one's own work--this amusing, thought-provoking array of well-known images paints an incisive portrait of the artist as a total Hollywood fabrication.
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Up in the Sky: Tracey Moffatt in New York

"UP IN THE SKY scans the universe created by the provocative and talented photographer and filmmaker Tracey Moffatt, Australia's answer to Cindy Sherman and with even more of an edge, if that's possible. An important figure in the Australian postcolonial avant-garde, Moffatt started out with visually compelling (and often disturbing) photographs and films such as NICE COLOURED GIRLS, NIGHT CRIES, and BEDEVIL that explore her own Aboriginal heritage and the complex ways that power, race and gender intersect, often violently, in everyday life. More recently, her work draws on sources as diverse as Pasolini and Mad Max films, or Victorian photography. Jane Cole's documentary is an insightful portrait of Moffatt and her work, and an invaluable framework for anyone interested in the work of this cutting edge artist." Faye Ginsburg, Director, The Center for Media, Culture, and History, New York University
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Artist on Fire

A pioneer of feminist avant-garde cinema, Joyce Wieland has explored the crux of nationalism, feminine sexuality and ecology for more than thirty years in films such as her influential RAT LIFE AND DIET AND REASON OVER PASSION. This richly suggestive portrait surveys Wieland's involvement in structural filmmaking with Michael Snow and Hollis Frampton in the 1960s and her reinvention of women's crafts in her artwork.
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Guerrillas In Our Midst

GUERRILLAS IN OUR MIDST presents a savvy exploration of the machinations of the commercial art-world during its boom in the 1980s, and brings the Guerrilla Girls to the screen. This anonymous group of art terrorists has succeeded in putting racism and sexism on the agenda in the art-world since 1985, and their witty and creative tactics have changed the face of political and cultural activism. Interviews with key figures in the Manhattan art scene, record-breaking auction sales, exhibition openings and interviews with the Guerrillas Girls themselves combine to highlight how the myth of the heroic male painter is perpetuated.
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Sphinxes Without Secrets

Since its inception, performance art provided a forum for those artists whose work challenges the dominant aesthetic and cultural status quo. In SPHINXES WITHOUT SECRETS, performers, curators and critics unravel the mysteries of performance art and ponder the world women confront today. Performers featured in this stylish program include Diamanda Galas, Holly Hughes (one of the 'NEA Four'), Robbie McCauley and Rachel Rosenthal; intercut with appearances by many others such as Laurie Anderson, Annie Sprinkle and Reno.
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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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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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The Desert Is No Lady

With provocative imagery and spirited juxtapositions, THE DESERT IS NO LADY looks at the Southwest through the eyes of its leading contemporary women artists and writers, including author Sandra Cisneros. The nine women profiled are Pat Mora (poet), Sandra Cisneros (writer), Lucy Tapahonso (poet), Emmi Whitehorse (painter), Harmony Hammond (painter), Meridel Rubinstein (photographer), Nora Naranjo Morse (sculptor), Pola Lopez de Jaramillo (painter) and Ramona Sakiestewa (tapestry artist). The Southwest is a border territory - where cultures meet and mix - and the work of these nine women from Pueblo, Navajo, Mexican-American and Anglo backgrounds reflects its special characteristics. THE DESERT IS NO LADY is a vibrant celebration of the diversity of women's creativity and changing multicultural America. "An inspiring tapestry of history, imagination and daily life. I highly recommend it." - Vicki L. Ruiz, Arizona State University
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...And Woman Wove It in a Basket

For the Klickitat Indians in Oregon, basketweaving is a way of reclaiming native forms and heritage. This evocative portrayal of basketweaver Nettie Jackson Kuneki and her family explores Klickitat river culture within an investigation of documentary practice and cultural preservation. Capturing native life as experienced by a contemporary Klickitat woman, the film presents her daily activities through seasonal changes, the documentation of her craft and a visual history of Indian tales and legends. Voices of the filmmakers' own quest supplement Kuneki's reflections, creating a unique tapestry of personal memory and cultural collaboration that is invaluable for ethnographic film studies, Native American collections and women's studies.
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