DHTML Menu By Milonic JavaScript

Alternative Visions

Tuesday, July 27, 1993
The Secret Cinema and Women's Happy Time Commune
Paul Bartel USA, 1966)/ Sheila Paige (USA, 1972

The Secret Cinema (30 mins, Color, 35mm), subtitled "A Paranoid Fantasy," is a black comedy that ventures to explore those aspects of film where reality, sexuality, and fantasy become hopelessly intertwined. A young woman's problems with her mother, boyfriend and psychiatrist are compounded by her fears that she is secretly being filmed. Bartel's omniscient cinema is an extreme if unconscious prefiguring of John Berger's observation that women are culturally defined as to-be-looked-at, trapped both by the looks of others and their own awareness of being looked at. Sheila Paige's virtually unknown Women's Happy Time Commune (47 mins, Color, 16mm) is an uneven but fascinating precursor to the recent Strangers in Good Company. Paige describes it as "an anarchic, unconventional movie in which the Old West is the stomping ground for a motley crew of young and middle-aged women who are considering banding together to form a commune." The secret of this woman's cinema is the unusual amount of screen-time given to the time of women talking, ranging over diverse topics but always circling back to the possibility of a happy time living without men.-Kathy Geritz

• (Total 77 mins, From PFA Collection, Film-makers' Cooperative)