Soft Fiction & From Romance to Ritual co-presented by Nellie Killian and Sight Unseen, kicking off Tell Me: Women Filmmakers, Women’s Stories
SOFT FICTION, Chick Strand, 1979, 54 min, 16mm
“Chick Strand’s SOFT FICTION is a personal documentary that brilliantly portrays the survival power of female sensuality. It combines the documentary approach with a sensuous lyrical expressionism. Strand focuses her camera on people talking about their own experience, capturing subtle nuances in facial expressions and gestures that are rarely seen in cinema. The title SOFT FICTION works on several levels. It evokes the soft line between truth and fiction that characterizes Strand’s own approach to documentary, and suggests the idea of softcore fiction, which is appropriate to the film’s erotic content and style. It’s rare to find an erotic film with a female perspective dominating both the narrative discourse and the visual and audio rhythms with which the film is structured. Strand continues to celebrate in her brilliant, innovative personal documentaries her theme, the reaffirmation of the tough resilience of the human spirit.” – Marsha Kinder, Film Quarterly
FROM ROMANCE TO RITUAL, Peggy Ahwesh, 1985, 20 min
This film is formed around several scenes of women telling stories to the camera of their sexual history and experience. This material is intercut and juxtaposed with related footage concerning girls and their growing up, memory and the learning process and the received truth of history lessons. This film as a whole makes for an uncomfortable fit between women’s personal experience and the official dogma of our culture’s history. The filming style is of the ethno-graphic film without the expert observer and of the home movie without the father.
“Tell Me” celebrates female filmmakers who took the simple, radical step of allowing women space and time to talk about their lives. Working in idioms from cinema verite to essay film to agitprop, the assembled films all share a startling intimacy between camera and subject. Whether through the bonds of shared experience, or merely genuine interest, these portraits capture women talking about trauma and sexual identity; summoning new language to describe the long simmering injustices and frustrations we still face today; making jokes; admitting insecurities; and organizing for the future.
Guest Programmed by Nellie Killian