By Kirsten Larvick
Made as part of series for German Television (ZDF) in 1986, Seven Women Seven Sins, proved to be an exceptional collaboration of 1980’s independent #DirectedByWomen cinema.
Representing five countries, the film explores the seven deadly Biblical sins through the inspired eyes of seven women filmmakers (five from Europe, two from the U.S.).
Working in various disciplines, each director was offered creative freedom to interpret their capital vice of choice.
Both quirky and innovative, the omnibus that is Seven Women Seven Sins brought together Chantel Akerman’s Sloth, Maxi Cohen’s Anger, Valie Export’s Lust, Laurence Gavron’s Envy, Bette Gordon’s Greed, Ulrike Ottinger’s Pride, and Helke Sander’s Gluttony, to consider the individual sins through distinctly different approaches.
Interpretations range from Sander’s take on gluttony in a re-imagining of Adam & Eve in a hyper-stylized Garden of Eden set as a depiction of modern male/female relationships, to Cohen’s provocative non-actor interviews mined from actual responses to a Village Voice ad. Both the hysterical and deeply disturbing emerge when Cohen invites everyday people to reveal on camera what churns below the surface. Gordon presents greed as a noir tale brought to life (and death) between to ladies in a women’s lounge. And only the beloved Ackerman can insert herself into the story of an artist’s struggle against sloth, and leave you wanting more.
Though each ZDF segment was produced separately, the episodic, Seven Women Seven Sins that broadcast within the regular series Das Kleine Fernsehspiel was a true collaborative effort. But it was Cohen who helmed the film version, which joined the sins into a 101-minute film, living on to receive festival honors worldwide.
Seven Women Seven Sins is a rare uniting these seven iconoclastic independent women artists under a stirring theme that encouraged adventurous storytelling. Looking at this work today in the context of 1980s cinema and what the individual artists were exploring (as well as their peers Lizzie Borden, Sara Driver, Susan Seidelman, Mira Nair, Sally Potter, and others), it’s clear that this period enjoyed great creative courage.
Come September 26th and September 27th, 2018, The Quad will show Seven Women Seven Sins. Don’t miss Cohen and Gordon’s post-screening Q&A on the 26th.
For tickets and information visit https://quadcinema.com/film/seven-women-seven-sins/
The Women’s Film Preservation Fund awarded a grant to this unique contribution to the art of cinema, but because of the varied formats of film and video that were used, and other complexities, it’s a more expensive preservation than originally estimated. It is essential to our film record to save works by these important women makers. Though copies of the film are around, the remaining materials are at risk. To help support the preservation of Seven Women Seven Sins, please consider support today. Visit https://www.nywift.org/donate/donate-to-the-wfpf/.
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