A Child’s Introduction to the Wonders of Space (1979)

Written, produced, directed and edited by Rachel Reichman.

Director’s Statement:
A Child’s Introduction to the Wonders of Space follows a loner of a young woman, seemingly isolated in the midst of New York City. Her ambivalence about human contact is palpable but the events that shaped her are never made apparent. When she passes a man on the roof she dashes off in fear. But then she returns, as if drawn to watch, hidden, as he hangs laundry on the roof. Later when confronted by a packed crowd at a parade she moves, furtively, through it, overwhelmed by the throngs pressing in on her. Ultimately, she withdraws to a comforting dream life, on her bed in her small apartment.

The film is a unique work using expressive cinematography, music and a delicate performance to tell a tale of urban loneliness. But it is also a snapshot of the changing form of the contemporary American “art movie.” As the 1970s rounded into the 80s the dominance of Minimalism and of Structural film began to fade. Films appeared up in art collectives and clubs in a form that was to be called “the New Narrative,” an emulation of past fictive popular modes. Filmmakers like Beth and Scott B, Amos Poe, James Nares, Sara Driver and Bette Gordon also worked in black and white as part of this reflexive style. Though I was many years their junior, we were undoubtedly affected by similar cultural drifts, moving toward character driven work that referred back to B or noir Hollywood, or tipped its hat to Italian Neorealism, and other European art film norms.

The film received first prizes at the Mason Gross Film Festival and the Big Muddy Film Festival. The professor Dan Dinello at Chicago’s Columbia College showed A Child’s Introduction to his classes for nearly a decade.