Screen/Society--Future of the Feminist 70s--"I Am Somebody"/ "Wanda"

Wednesday, October 5, 2011 - 4:00pm to 6:15pm
Screen/Society--Future of the Feminist 70s--"I Am Somebody"/ "Wanda"

Film Screening (one short+one feature):

The Future of the Feminist 70s film series presents:

I Am Somebody
(Madeline Anderson, 1970, 30 min, USA, in English, Color, DVD)
In 1969, 400 poorly paid black women in Charleston, South Carolina, went on strike to demand union recognition and a wage increase, only to find themselves in a confrontation with the National Guard and the state government. A testament to the courage of these women who would not be humbled, the now classic I AM SOMEBODY is both an inspiring film and an important historical record.

(Barbara Loden, 1971, 102 min, USA, in English, Color, DVD)
In grim, rust-belt Pennsylvania, Wanda is down and out. She works sporadically, has abandoned her husband and children, and goes home with men just to have a roof over her head. One night she walks into a bar after closing and finds a nervous Mr. Dennis pacing. She takes up with him, and he proves to be a criminal who is planning a robbery. He's rude and demanding; Wanda accepts his abuse docilely. What future does she have?

In some ways, Wanda resembles Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless (1960), telling the story of a woman on the run from the law with a thief, but one of the most important aspects of this film–written, directed by, and starring Barbara Loden (an actress who was married to Elia Kazan until her death in 1980)--is its articulation of a distinctly female point-of-view. While in Breathless [a male character  seeks] existential freedom through his life of crime, dropping out of “normal” society and flouting of the law, Loden’s Wanda portrays a similar “dropout” rebelling not against the existential absurdity and conformity of mainstream society but against the boxing in and repression of women in our society coupled with dire economic prospects.  For Wanda, a poor and uneducated woman, there may be no satisfactory escape from the control and repression of society, but there is an appeal, as in Breathless, to life as an outlaw. But with her damaged, perhaps shattered self-esteem and self-worth, Wanda still cannot disentangle herself from the controlling will of a man. When she is finally freed, the result is once again an unshakable, sinking return to “normal” society, a soul-crushing kind of living rot.
-- Trevor Link,

Cost: Free and open to the public.

Sponsors: The Program in Women's Studies and the Program in the Arts of the Moving Image (AMI)

White 107 (White Lecture Hall)