In 1986, Das kleine Fernsehspiel, the small creative department founded by Eckart Stein within the German television broadcaster ZDF, asked seven women filmmakers to interpret the seven deadly sins. Their response was this remarkable anthology of generative approaches to feminist cinema. We have documentarian Maxi Cohen to thank for unifying these varied strategies into a single 16mm film, starting with Ulrike Ottinger’s delirious take on “Pride,” the sin of sins, and ending with VALIE EXPORT’s music video on modern “Lust.” Helke Sander presents “Gluttony,” set in a cartoonish Garden of Eden, as the original case of over-giving to a boyfriend. Chantal Akerman won’t get out of bed to make “Sloth.” There’s “Greed” in the ladies’ lounge and “Envy” at the symphony in narrative shorts by, respectively, Bette Gordon and Laurence Gavron. Cohen’s own contribution involved placing a back-page ad in the Village Voice inviting readers to talk on camera about their “Anger,” with predictably explosive results.
Seven Women Seven Sins | An anthology film by Chantal Akerman, Maxi Cohen, VALIE EXPORT, Laurence Gavron, Bette Gordon, Ulrike Ottinger, and Helke Sander. West Germany/Belgium/France/USA/Austria 1987. 101 min. 16mm.
Programmed by Michèle Smith