Marceline. A Woman. A Century

MARCELINE. A WOMAN. A CENTURY is a fascinating portrait of the persevering French filmmaker, writer, and Holocaust survivor Marceline Loridan-Ivens (1928-2018). Marceline was only 15 when both she and her father, a Polish Jew from Lódź, were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau. She survived but her father didn’t, and Marceline had to find radical and unconventional ways to heal after the tragedies of the war. In 1961, she appeared in Jean Rouch and Edgar Morin’s landmark film Chronicle of a Summer, which gave birth to the term cinema verité. Later she married the legendary Dutch documentary director Joris Ivens, traveled with him to Vietnam, and co-directed films such as 17th Parallel: Vietnam in War (1968) and How Yukong Moved the Mountains (1976). Filmed as she was nearing 90 years old and living in Paris, MARCELINE. A WOMAN. A CENTURY spans the broad arc of her life from Holocaust survivor to political activist to combatively critical filmmaker. Looking back on the momentous events she experienced and filmed such as the Algerian and Vietnam Wars and the Chinese Cultural Revolution, MARCELINE is a thought-provoking chronicle of a remarkable witness of the 20th century.
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The Rest I Make Up

Maria Irene Fornes was one of America's greatest playwrights and most influential teachers, but many know her only as the ex-lover of writer and social critic Susan Sontag. The visionary Cuban-American dramatist constructed astonishing worlds onstage, writing over 40 plays and winning nine Obie Awards. At the vanguard of the nascent Off-Off Broadway experimental theater movement in NYC, Fornes is often referred to as American theater's "Mother Avant-Garde." When she gradually stops writing due to dementia, an unexpected friendship with filmmaker Michelle Memran reignites her spontaneous creative spirit and triggers a decade-long collaboration that picks up where the pen left off. The duo travels from New York to Havana, Miami to Seattle, exploring the playwright's remembered past and their shared present. Theater luminaries such as Edward Albee, Ellen Stewart, Lanford Wilson, and others weigh in on Fornes's important contributions. What began as an accidental collaboration becomes a story of love, creativity, and connection that persists even in the face of forgetting.
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Kings Point

During the 1970s and 80s, thousands of New York’s primarily Jewish senior citizens migrated to Kings Point, a retirement community in Florida. Lured by blue skies, sunshine and the promise of richer social lives, they bought paradise for a mere $1,500 down payment. 2013 Academy Award® nominee for Best Documentary (Short Subject), KINGS POINT tracks the stories of five residents of this typical retirement complex who arrived decades ago with their health intact and spouses by their sides. Now that they and their community, comprised primarily of widowed women, face advanced age and mortality, paradise demands a higher price. Through candid interviews the film exposes the dynamic interplay of their desire for independence, need for community, and ambivalence toward growing old. Filmmaker and Emmy® nominee Sari Gilman deftly balances seriousness with humor, providing a bittersweet look at love, loss and self-preservation as well as a deeply empathetic portrait of aging in America and the American Dream’s last act.
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Water Children

In this acclaimed, hauntingly beautiful film, director Aliona van der Horst follows the unconventional Japanese-Dutch pianist Tomoko Mukaiyama as she explores the miracle of fertility and the cycle of life—sometimes joyful, sometimes tragic. When Mukaiyama recognized that her childbearing years were ending, she created a multimedia art project on the subject in a village in Japan, constructing what she calls a cathedral, out of 12,000 white silk dresses. While Mukaiyama’s own mesmerizing music provides a haunting backdrop to the film, her installation elicits confessions from its normally reticent Japanese visitors, many of whom have never seen art before—and in moving scenes they open up about previously taboo subjects. Mukaiyama’s courageous approach to a subject that remains unspoken in many cultures is explored with an elegance and sophistication that deepens our understanding of the relationship between body and mind.
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Tillie Olsen: A Heart in Action

This revelatory documentary is an inspiring homage to Tillie Lerner Olsen – a renegade, revolutionary, distinguished fiction and non-fiction writer, feminist, humanist, labor organizer and social activist. Politically active, class conscious, deeply joined to the world, Tillie countered the very core of American writing by immortalizing the lives of working class women and single mothers. Her short stories “Tell Me a Riddle,” and “I Stand Here Ironing,” galvanized the literary world and set in motion an essential new perspective on the lives of ordinary women. Filmmaker Ann Hershey tells not only the story of Olsen as a writer, but also documents her life as an activist. Extended interviews with Olsen during the last years of her life are deftly interspersed with footage from her readings, lectures and book signings as well as with archive materials and comments from notable feminists such as Gloria Steinem and Alice Walker. A perfect companion film in courses covering Olsen’s literature, this documentary is also recommended for women’s studies, labor studies, political studies and American history courses.
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The Sermons of Sister Jane

From Oscar and Emmy Award-winning filmmakers Allie Light and Irving Saraf (Dialogues With Madwomen and In The Shadow of The Stars), in partnership with Carol Monpere, also an Emmy Award-winner, comes their latest film, The Sermons Of Sister Jane: Believing the Unbelievable. This documentary is an engaging portrait that sparkles with the courage, wit and humanity of Sister Jane Kelly, who combines her deep spiritual faith with her equally powerful commitment towards resistance and change. When Sister Jane discovered that a priest in her church was molesting young men and stealing from the congregation, and when the evidence was ignored by the church, she contacted the press, creating a scandal. Throughout the film she shares her progressive views on issues such as birth control, homosexuality, and women priests. She impels the Catholic Church to return to egalitarian roots of community. The scenes filmed at Plowshares, an organization she created to feed and serve the poor and homeless, demonstrate Sister Jane’s powerful ability to translate her faith into profoundly meaningful action. This touching documentary, skillfully produced by these acclaimed filmmakers, reveals Sister Jane’s long struggle to speak out against what she believed was wrong, and how this ongoing battle ultimately has heart-breaking results.
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Quick Brown Fox: An Alzheimer's Story

Who are you if you can’t remember who you are? Ann Hedreen’s mother started showing symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease at the barely-old age of 60. Though it started with small signs—forgetting what she was doing and losing her way home—the irreversible disease would change her and her family's lives forever. Emmy-nominated QUICK BROWN FOX combines their moving personal journey with an insightful look at the science and politics of Alzheimer’s—a disease that now affects more than 18 million people worldwide. Devastated and angry about her mother's decline, Hedreen began an uncompomising pursuit of information about possible causes and cures, volunteering as a long-term test subject at an Alzheimer's research center in Washington and interviewing prominent doctors and researchers to gain insight into the politics of funding and stem-cell research. Interweaving these experiences with Super 8 home movies, 1950s medical films and heartbreaking interviews with her family, Hedreen’s film bravely confronts the disease that has mangled the mind of her once brainy mom, and raises profound questions about the importance of memories in defining ourselves.
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Maggie Growls

MAGGIE GROWLS is a portrait of the amazing, canny, lusty, charming and unstoppable Maggie Kuhn (1905-1995), who founded the Gray Panthers (the nation’s leading progressive senior advocacy organization) in 1970 after being forced to retire from a job she loved at the age of 65. Her outrage and determination fueled a political chain reaction that forever changed the lives of older Americans, repealing mandatory retirement laws and proving that “old” is not a dirty word. Out of what Ralph Nader called “the most significant retirement in modern American history,” Maggie created one of the most potent social movements of the century – one that was committed to justice, peace and fairness to all, regardless of age. Her defiant “panther growl” and dramatic slogan “Do something outrageous every day” launched nothing less than a contemporary cultural revolution, both in terms of redefining the meaning of age and through her insistence on “young and old together.” "Maggie Growls" looks at the forces that shaped the movement as well as its leader, using Maggie’s life as a lens through which to examine the intertwined issues of social reform and aging in America. This inspiring documentary is an important addition to courses in American Studies, History, Women’s Studies, Gerontology and Sociology. This film is a presentation of the Independent Television Service (ITVS) with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).
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Nu Shu: A Hidden Language of Women in China

In feudal China, women, usually with bound feet, were denied educational opportunities and condemned to social isolation. But in Jian-yong county in Hunan province, peasant women miraculously developed a separate written language, called Nu Shu, meaning "female writing." Believing women to be inferior, men disregarded this new script, and it remained unknown for centuries. It wasn't until the 1960s that Nu Shu caught the attention of Chinese authorities, who suspected that this peculiar writing was a secret code for international espionage. Today, interest in this secret script continues to grow, as evidenced by the wide critical acclaim of Lisa See’s recent novel, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, about Nu Shu. NU SHU: A HIDDEN LANGUAGE OF WOMEN IN CHINA is a thoroughly engrossing documentary that revolves around the filmmaker's discovery of eighty-six-year-old Huan-yi Yang, the only living resident of the Nu Shu area still able to read and write Nu Shu. Exploring Nu Shu customs and their role in women's lives, the film uncovers a women's subculture born of resistance to male dominance, finds a parallel struggle in the resistance of Yao minorities to Confucian Han Chinese culture, and traces Nu Shu's origins to some distinctly Yao customs that fostered women's creativity.
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Golden Threads

Profiling the life of 93 year old lesbian activist Christine Burton, founder of a global networking service for mid-life and elder lesbians this documentary by Lucy Winer and Karen Eaton, exuberantly overturns our most deeply rooted stereotypes and fears of aging. By adding the wry and introspective narrative of the director undergoing a mid-life crisis, the film generates a groundbreaking, intergenerational dialogue about sexuality, life choices, and aging. At a time when the media commonly sentimentalizes, dismisses or altogether ignores the old, GOLDEN THREADS offers an urgently needed antidote. GOLDEN THREADS was produced for the Independent Television Service (ITVS) with funds provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
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Some Ground To Stand On

This compelling documentary tells the life story of Blue Lunden, a working class lesbian activist whose odyssey of personal transformation parallels lesbians’ changing roles over the past 40 years. Starting with Blue’s experience of being run out of the 1950’s New Orleans gay bar scene for wearing men’s clothing, SOME GROUND TO STAND ON combines interviews, rare photos, and archival footage to trace her experiences: giving up her child for adoption and getting her back; getting sober; and coming into her own as a lesbian rights, feminist, and anti-nuclear activist. Now 61 and living in Sugarloaf Women’s Village, Blue reflects on aging, activism, and a life spent “doing what she wanted” in this touching, inspiring look at a generation’s struggle for a lesbian identity and consciousness.
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Complaints of a Dutiful Daughter

With profound insight and a healthy dose of levity, COMPLAINTS OF A DUTIFUL DAUGHTER chronicles the various stages of a mother's Alzheimer's Disease and the evolution of a daughter's response to the illness. The desire to cure the incurable-to set right her mother's confusion and forgetfulness, to temper her mother's obsessiveness-gives way to an acceptance which is finally liberating for both daughter and mother. Neither depressing nor medical, COMPLAINTS OF A DUTIFUL DAUGHTER is much more than a story about Alzheimer's and family caregiving. It is ultimately a life-affirming exploration of family relations, aging and change, the meaning of memory, and love.
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As I Remember It

This intimate portrait of writer Dorothy West explores the forgotten role of women in the Harlem Renaissance. From the perspective of her 83 years, the still active writer relates her memories of growing up African American, privileged and enthralled by literature. Archival footage and photographs, interviews and excerpts from her autobiographical novel, THE LIVING IS EASY, capture West's fascinating story.
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Acting Our Age: A film About Women Growing Old

An invigorating antidote for American culture's one-dimensional image of older women, this classic film offers empowering insights about women and aging for every generation. Personal portraits of six ordinary women in their 60's and 70's who share their lives. In candid interviews that tackle a range of thought-provoking topics, including self-image, sexuality, financial concerns, dying, and changing family relationships, members of the group display both a vibrant strength of spirit and inspiring zest for life.
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Navajo Talking Picture

In NAVAJO TALKING PICTURE film student Arlene Bowman (Navajo) travels to the Reservation to document the traditional ways of her grandmother. The filmmaker persists in spite of her grandmother's forceful objections to this invasion of her privacy. Ultimately, what emerges is a thought-provoking work which abruptly calls into question issues of "insider/outsider" status in a portrait of an assimilated Navajo struggling to use a "white man's" medium to capture the remnants of her cultural past. Excellent for film studies as well as those interested in Native American culture.
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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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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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