Focus #1 Lizzie Borden
Activity

Focus #1 Lizzie Borden

Courtesy of Lizzie Borden and Anthology Film Archives

Self-taught filmmaker, feminist, pioneer of queer and militant lesbian cinema, in the decade between 1976 and 1986 Lizzie Borden produced a series of films of great originality and conceptual wealth, with the vibrant artistic, intellectual and political scene of New York as a backdrop and under the rhythm of new wave and post-punk music.

On the occasion of the 35 mm reprint of the cult film Born in Flames (1983), this programme revisits her first creations: stories that reclaim a cinema of opposition, challenge the logical narratives of the hetero-normative order and put into play a cinematic practice understood as a means of political action and producer of feminist imaginaries, with a large scope for formal experimentation. Her films, described as marginal, underground and independent, seek to present a non-voyeuristic view of the female body, while raising the possibility of generating a type of desire that counteracts that found in commercial cinema.

In the filmography of Lizzie Borden, three films stand out: the rarely shown Regrouping (1976) is a confessional documentary in the cinéma vérité style of the time, in which Barbara Kruger, Joan Jonas and Kathryn Bigelow participate, and which explores some of the questions that still resonate in the feminisms of the present, such as sorority: the possibilities of building solidarity among women in spite of the patriarchal structures that impede it and how to avoid differences in order to respond forcibly to those structures. Born in Flames (1983), the so-called afro-futurist-feminist-lesbian-science-fiction genre hybrid, features Kathryn Bigelow, Florynce Kennedy and Adele Bertei, the no wave lead singer for The Bloods, one of the first bands to produce openly lesbian music. The film is a fiery portrait, full of sharp edges, that addresses the fight against heteropatriarchy and racism in an advanced well-meaning society. Unlike the films of the commercial cinema industry, where in futuristic fiction patriarchal relations remain and only clothing and technology are transformed, in this film the future is portrayed as a post-capitalist dystopia where women must continue fighting against patriarchal structures. Finally, Working Girls (1986), which emerged as an idea during the shooting of Born in Flames – since some of the performers were also prostitutes –, opens an unprejudiced debate on prostitution, the masculine gaze on women, desire and the agency of bodies.

In these three titles – Regrouping (1976), Born in Flames (1983) and Working Girls (1986) – Borden approaches the concerns of women as well as the different issues raised by the second wave of the feminist movement and its crises in the seventies and eighties. Each of the films adopts a completely different aesthetic approach in a series of women’s stories told by women. The way these stories are treated returns us to the question of what radicalism means today.

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dates
16 February 2017 – 18 February 2017
title
Focus #1 Lizzie Borden
dates
16 February 2017 – 18 February 2017
title
Focus #1 Lizzie Borden
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