a white man and woman, covered by a sheet, lying on a mattress on a table in an empty roomalr

Film About a Woman Who...

Screening on Film
Directed by Yvonne Rainer.
With Dempster Leech, Shirley Soffer, John Erdman.
US, 1974, 16mm, black & white, 105 min.
Print source: HFA

A programme of two contrasting films … Like Frampton, Michael Snow was a landmark figure of the New American Cinema for Afterimage. A whole issue was dedicated to his work on the occasion of a retrospective in London. Breakfast (Table Top Dolly) is a typically wry, modestly scaled and humorous complement to his masterpieces—from Wavelength to La Région Centrale—that explore the potential of camera movements. In a special 1978 issue under the rubric of “Hearing : Seeing,” Afterimage published extracts from Snow’s encyclopaedic exploration of sound and image, Rameau’s Nephew (1974). In that same issue the complete script of Yvonne Rainer’s Kristina Talking Pictures (1976) was published, demonstrating Rainer’s complex weaving of different fragmented narratives, elements of fiction in contrast to documentary, voiceover and dialogue against moments of dance-like performance, her characters in a form of almost italicised dialogue.

The cinema of both Snow and Rainer appealed to Afterimage as offering radically new potentials of cinema, partly encouraged by their involvement in the ambitiously modern arts. Before making several remarkable feature films, Yvonne Rainer was a key figure in modern dance, exemplified by her groundbreaking minimalist performances at the Judson Memorial Church in the 60s. If her modern dance works eschewing narrative paralleled the work of filmmakers like Snow and Frampton in the 60s, her first feature-length film, Lives of Performers (1972) and then Film About a Woman Who… were revelatory and exciting for their strategies of a radical collage structure that brought elements of autobiography and narrative back into avant-garde cinema. They also became key films for debates about a radical feminist cinema as the Women’s Movement evolved. In a typically slightly laconic tone, which matches those of her voiceover in the film, Rainer describes Film About a Woman Who… as “a meditation on ambivalence that plays with cliché and the conventions of soap opera while telling the story of a woman whose sexual dissatisfaction masks an enormous anger.”


  • Breakfast (Table Top Dolly)

    Directed by Michael Snow.
    US, 1976, 16mm, color, 15 min.

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Afterimage… For a New, Radical Cinema