Hot Docs, AFI Docs, Art of the Real, Documenta Madrid, Docaviv, Inside Out, Frameline
Unpublished letters to Ms. Magazine bridge feminism’s past and present.
Lusztig’s unusually engaging project operates on a very simple but unusually revealing premise: Having found an archive of unpublished letters to the editors of the pioneering feminist magazine, Ms., the filmmaker travels to the towns from which they originated and has present-day women read and comment on them, directly to the camera. Sometimes it seems obvious why a particular woman or girl has been asked to read a specific letter – on the surface, they might share the same job, age, or ethnicity – but it’s when they are asked their thoughts about the content of what they’ve spoken aloud, or about their impressions of the writer, that some interesting ruptures emerge. Not surprisingly, blindspots around race, class, and sexuality that readers sought to bring to the attention of the magazine in the 1970s still reverberate for today’s participants. In addition to presenting a remarkably diverse, complex, and intersectional representation of feminism, Lusztig also elicits a surprisingly emotional reaction from the viewer at times, peppering in several participants who reveal themselves to be the actual writers of the letters, adding a layer of self-reflection to this thought-provoking film.