By Ann Deborah Levy
The Women’s Film Preservation Fund: Four Experimental Films will screen January 22nd in The Museum of Modern Art’s annual festival, To Save and Project.
The four recently preserved films by Barbara Hammer, Victoria Hochberg, Peggy Ahwesh, and Sheila Paige, all carry a common thread of movement towards a future from the past. The films reflect on this theme in different ways. Some focus on the past to leave it behind, others train their eyes towards the future in reaction to an implicit past. All four filmmakers will be present to introduce the films.
Sisters! (Barbara Hammer, 1973)
Barbara Hammer’s Sisters!, 1973, a celebration of lesbians, begins, “I had a dream of women where men used to be: building, working, growing strong, building their bodies into strength for self-defense.” Presenting images of women doing physical “men’s” work, 1973 footage of the first Women’s International Day march in San Francisco, and joyous dancing from the last night of the First Annual Lesbian Conference at U.C.L.A. where Family of Woman played, the film envisions new possibilities in the future for women and lesbians.
Metroliner (Victoria Hochberg, 1974-1975)
Victoria Hochberg’s Metroliner, 1974-1975, documents a journey on the Metroliner, the state of the art American train of the day, from the vantage point of the engineer’s cabin. It interweaves this thread with archival footage of trains from the past, train wrecks, and workers strikes; and contemporary footage of the Amtrak management, kitchens that supply the trains, and the snack bar on the train. Gorgeous close up shots of the powerful engines celebrate the power and beauty of train travel past and present, while archival and modern footage of railroad workers and events associated with the railroad present a social history of train transportation.
Doppelgänger (Peggy Ahwesh, 1987)
Peggy Ahwesh’s Doppelgänger, 1987, is a portrait of Ahwesh’s German born friend Renate, who shows us possessions from her past, reads in German lyrics from a book of church music from her childhood, and in English from a diary written later on. These symbols reflect stories of hardship, violence, sadness, and even beauty, but there is also a sense that Renate is releasing herself from her past and is in a new place. Shot in super 8 in several vérité-like segments, the film also includes hand-processed footage.
Women’s Happy Time Commune (Sheila Page, 1972)
Sheila Paige’s Women’s Happy Time Commune, 1972, billed as a “comedy/western,” is an improvised narrative about a visionary experiment. A motley crew of young and middle-aged women, leave their former, constricted lives behind for the Old West to form a commune without men where they expect to be freer and to have more possibilities. As they discuss, share dreams, and argue about what this utopia should be, Women’s Happy Time Commune offers a lively immersion into the feminist ferment of the early 1970’s.
The Women’s Film Preservation Fund: Four Experimental Films
Date: Monday, January 22nd
Time: 7:15 p.m.
Location: The Museum of Modern Art
The 15th edition of MoMA’s annual international festival of newly preserved films, To Save and Project, features a diverse selection of titles from Asia, Europe, Africa, Latin America, Australia, and the US, in formats ranging from 16mm to Cinerama.
Organized by Dave Kehr, Curator, Department of Film. Special thanks to Cindi Rowell and Brittany Shaw.
Electronic subtitling provided by Sub-Ti Ltd.
This exhibition is supported by the Annual Film Fund.
For more information on To Save and Project please visit: https://www.moma.org/calendar/film/3908?locale=en
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Ann Deborah Levy is Co-Chair of the Women’s Film Preservation Fund Steering Committee and makes experimental films. For more information on her films and videos, please visit: www.resonantimages.com