The early 1970s was the heyday of New Hollywood, which saw a wave of younger, often first-time directors getting their starts in the industry and exploding conventions of narrative filmmaking by engaging in experimentation and personal expression. A part of this movement, and also apart from it, is Wanda (1970), one of the most fiercely independent and uncompromising films of the era.
It is a study of the eponymous character—an impoverished, shiftless woman living in rural Pennsylvania—who, after abandoning her family, takes up with a criminal, Mr. Dennis (Michael Higgins). Shot on 16mm film at a cost of $115,000 by a crew of four—led by the film's writer/director/star, Barbara Loden—this female-driven production was a true rarity. Loden was inspired to make the film after reading about the case of Alma Malone, a woman convicted of being an accomplice in a bank robbery who, at her sentencing, thanked the judge for sending her to prison. She also drew inspiration from her own hardscrabble upbringing and experiences of being marginalized by the men in her life.
Loden rose to fame in the early ‘60s, acting in Wild River and Splendor in the Grass, and winning a Tony award for her role in Arthur Miller's After the Fall—all directed by her lover and future husband, Elia Kazan. Despite this success, and the fact that Wanda has languished in semi-obscurity for decades, it is Loden’s only directorial effort that has come to define her legacy. Thanks to its champions, including actress Isabelle Huppert and French director/writer/intellectual Marguerite Duras, and its recent restoration, which showcases the film's gritty visual lyricism and singular cinematic vision, Wanda is beginning to receive the wider admiration it has long deserved. Join us to explore this deeply personal and incredibly rich film.
Cinema Classics Seminars offer an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about some of the true classics of world cinema. Students meet in the 2nd floor Multimedia room for an introductory lecture before the film and a guided discussion after the film. The film itself is shown in one of our theaters. Your ticket for the screening, as well as popcorn and a drink, are included with your registration.