The Women in the Director’s Chair International Film & Video Festival, now in its 12th year, highlights shorts as well as features by women, including documentary, animated, narrative, and experimental works. Tickets for individual programs at Chicago Filmmakers, 1229 W. Belmont, are $6, $5 for Women In the Director’s Chair members and students and senior citizens with a valid ID; tickets at the Film Center, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson, are $5 for Women in the Director’s Chair members and the general public, $3 for Film Center members; festival passes are also available. For further information call 281-4988.


The Roof Is On Fire

Six videos and two films. The videos are Vejan Lee Smith’s Mother’s Hands (1992), Maria Michiyo Gargiulo’s Mrs. Yamamoto Takes a Trip (1992), Wendy Jo Carlton’s Eddie and Paul (199 1), Portia Cobb’s No Justice, No Peace: Young Black Immediate (1992), Dalida Maria Benfield and Maria C. Lugones’s Women of Pilsen (1992), and Paper Tiger Television’s Breathless (1992). The two films are Martyne Page’s Facade (1992) and the only work on this program I’ve seen, Mehrnaz Saeed-Vafa’s weird, elliptical, and highly potent Ruins Within (1992), a poetic, transcultural fever dream about belly dancers and male spectators in which mirrors and buildings being demolished are boldly made to rhyme with one another. (Chicago Filmmakers, 6:30)

Let’s Eat

Five videos and one film. The videos are Sharon Aaron’s A Short Bread (1992), Cheryl Dunye’s The Potluck and the Passion (1992), J. Evan Dunlap and Adriene Jenik’s What’s the Difference Between a Yam and a Sweet Potato? (1992), Joan Boccino’s Mom Makes Lasagna (1992), and Jessica Shamash’s British Pot Boiler (1991). The film is Arlene Hazzan Green’s Canadian Battle of the Bulge (1992). (Chicago Filmmakers, 9:00)


Not the Church, Not the State

Two videos: Kathy High’s hour-long experimental documentary Underexposed: The Temple of the Fetus–part satire, part talking-head investigative journalism–about reproductive technologies, and Dalida Maria Benfield’s half-hour Potential Pictures (1990). (Chicago Filmmakers, 2:30)

Keeping On

Four films and five videos. The films, all made last year, are Zola Mumford’s Charm School, Mary Scott’s Zoe and Jennifer, Leah Gilliam’s Now Pretend, and Wendy Maida Levy’s The Birthday Party at Repetition Cafe. The videos are Madhavi Rangachar and Maria T. Rodriguez’s (Un)named (1992), Katy Maguire’s Primordial Protoplasm (1992), Vivian Kleiman’s My Body’s My Business (1992), Dorothy Fadman’s When Abortion Was Illegal: Untold Stories (1992), and Shikha Jhingan’s Once This Land Was Ours (1991), from India. (Chicago Filmmakers, 5:00)

Shoot for the Contents

This essay film by the U.S.-based, French-educated Vietnamese writer and filmmaker Trinh T. Minh-ha (Naked Spaces: Living Is Round, Surname Viet Given Name Nam) approaches Chinese culture from an outsider’s position—or, more precisely, through a series of contrasted outsider positions and layered perspectives. Shoot for the Contents, whose title alludes to a Chinese guessing game, was motivated by Trinh’s desire to explore her Vietnamese roots (she plans to make a companion film about India, the other major source of Vietnamese culture), but she’s more concerned with poetic evocation than journalistic information. This film may confound spectators looking for a thesis or the kind of false knowledge proffered by conventional documentaries; as usual, Trinh is interested in radically opposing the means by which documentaries generally claim to be authoritative. But the dispersed presentation–which makes use of video as well as 16-millimeter footage and consists largely of speculative conversations with filmmakers and diverse, kinds of visual displacement–is provocative and compelling. Like Trinh’s other work, this could be described as the film of an accomplished and talented writer rather than the “writing” of a pure filmmaker, but it is no less commanding for that (1991). (Film Center, 6:00)


One film and five videos, all made last year. The film is Kate Julia Goodnight’s A Goat Named Tension. The videos are Dawn Suggs’s I Never Danced the Way Girls Were Supposed To, Deborah Fort’s Dykeotomy, Melanie Nelson and Catherine Saalfield’s A Bird in the Hand, Jane Cottis’s War on Lesbians, and Mary Morten and Natalie R. Hutchison’s The NIA Project. (Chicago Filmmakers, 7:30)

The Last Days of Chez Nous

The latest feature of Australian filmmaker Gillian Armstrong (My Brilliant Career, High Tide), working here with novelist and screenwriter Helen Garner–a drama about a group of eccentrics living in a house in Sydney, including a successful author (Lisa Harrow), her teenage daughter (Miranda Otto), her French husband (Bruno Ganz), her younger sister (An Angel at My Table’s Kerry Fox), and a young male boarder. Things start to get complicated when the younger sister returns home following the breakup of a relationship in England and becomes involved with her brother-in-law (1992). (Film Center, 8:00)

She’s a Rebel

Three films and five videos. The films are Cauleen Smith’s Chronicles of a Lying Spirit by Kelly Gabron (1992), Audrea Renee Topps’s Raw Intensity (1991), and Ela Troyano’s Carmelita Tropicana. The videos are Ayanna Udongo’s Edges (1992), Aileen McCormack’s Don’t Deal Dirt (1992), Victoria Bearden’s He Was a Phone Sex Caller (1990), Liz Canning’s Hand Mirror/Brush Set Included (1992), and G.B. Jones’s Canadian YOYO Gang (1992). (Chicago Filmmakers, 10:00)


Beneath the Skin

Two videos and two films. The videos are Zeinabu Irene Davis’s A Period Piece (1991) and Anne Lewis Johnson’s Belinda (1992). The films are Jennifer Johns’s Beneath the Surface (1992) and Penny Dedman’s Rites (1990), from Great Britain. (Chicago Filmmakers, noon)

Locked In–Locked Out

Three videos: Carol Jacobsen’s They’ll Find You Guilty (1991), Donna Preece’s Canadian Locked In/Locked Out (1992), and Debbie Levine and Catherine Saalfield’s I’m You. . . You’re Me. Cosponsored by Chicago Legal Aid to Incarcerated Mothers; a panel made up of former prisoners will discuss their own experiences. (Chicago Filmmakers, 2:15)

Framing the Family

Three films and a video. The films are Irina Leimbacher’s Mother Tongue (1991), Ana Kokkinos’s Australian Antamosi (1991), and Christine Chang’s Be Good My Children (1992). The video is Ferne Pearlstein’s Raising Nicholas (1991). (Film Center, 4:00)

Animation Eleven short films. From the U.S.: Hollie Lavenstein’s I (1991) and Shirlee Jensen’s By the Light of the Moon (a work in progress). From England: Debra Smith’s Touch (1992), Ruth Lingford’s Crumble and Baggage (both 1992), Sarah Cox’s Reel to Reel (1992), Jayne Bevitt’s Some Dogs, and Kayla Parker’s Cage of Flame (1992). From Canada: JoDee Samuelson’s The Bath (1992), Wendy Tilby’s Strings (1991), and Caroline Leaf’s Two Sisters (1990). (Chicago Filmmakers, 4:30)

I, the Worst of All

The fifth feature of Argentinean director Maria Luisa Bemberg (Camilla), based on a book by Octavio Paz about Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, a 17th-century nun, poet, and feminist who managed to be outspoken during the Inquisition. Assumpta Serna (Matador) stars as Sor Juana, and Dominique Sanda plays one of her friends (1990). (Film Center, 6:00)

Women to Watch Out For–New Media Makers

Five films and six videos. The films are K.D. Davis’s Over the Hedge (1992), Bonnie Smothers’s The Cutting Floor (1992), Elizabeth Finlayson’s In and Out of Time (1991), Rebecca Feig’s The Waiting (1992), and Diane Frederick’s Che Bella Famiglia (1992). The videos are Victoria Plummer’s Entries (1992), Marisela Gomez and Emily Castillo’s The Missing Latina (1992), Carol M. Ward’s Mrs. Tiny Town (1992), Laura L. Montgomery’s Body/Verse (1992), Mary Moran’s Not Vanishing (1989), and Natalia Velez’s My Friend (1992). (Chicago Filmmakers, 7:00)