Renowned filmmaker Michelle Citron has been making documentary films that border on experimental since the 1970s, and her films have been
screened at festivals and museums across the globe. Citron plays with form and content in order to get her messages across and create
meaningful, potent art that sticks with audiences long after the final frame. When Citron first began experimenting with film, feminist
film theory was asking questions about form and how structure plays into the creation of political and activist films.
"When I found film, I thought this was the way I wanted to have a voice in the world," Citron said. "One of the questions in feminist
film theory at the time was what was the best kind of political film to make? Could you just have the content be political, or does the
form also need to be radical?"
Citron addresses this fundamental question with every piece she creates, experimenting with traditional storytelling tropes and even
creating some projects that go outside the realm of film, such as interactive video and mixed-media art. "Lives:Visible" and "Leftovers"
are Citron's two films that will screen at the Senior Alliance dinner, and both continue her investigation into form and storytelling by
using a collection of over 2,000 photographs as their primary footage. The photographs were taken over several decades by a lesbian
couple, Norma and Virginia, and document their lives and their community as they aged and the world changed from the 1930s to the 1970s.
Both films use this collection of photographs that Citron happened upon by chance through a friend, but they each tell a different part of
LIVES: VISIBLE (2017, 35 mins):
Lesbians in a box... two thousand private snapshots hidden away for over fifty years reveal the rich history of Chicago's working class
butch/fem life in the pre-Stonewall era. Spanning four decades, from the 1930s to the early 1970s, the snapshots provide a rare look
at a vanished and vibrant Lesbian culture: images of lovers and friends as they played, posed, serially switched partners, worked,
partied, drank, and aged. Now we all take selfies; these women used a Brownie camera to tell the story of their community. LIVES: VISIBLE
explores the ephemeral nature of culture and the power of the images we make.
LEFTOVERS (2014, 23 mins):
For "Leftovers," Citron turns her filmmaking lens onto the photographers themselves, exploring Norma and Virginia's lives during their
later years. "For the last decade or so of their lives, Norma and Virginia were virtual hermits," Citron said. "They lived in this vibrant,
large community of women for decade after decade, but by the time they reached their early 70s, the community was gone." Citron explores
the couple's relationship and the community that was so integral to their lives in "Leftovers," using the photographs in what she described
as a sort of transparent, animated way. Citron also found letters between the couple that are featured in the film, showing the connection
and love shared between these two women.
"The photographs are used to put you in history... but I want the viewer to always be aware that they are looking at a photograph,"
Citron said. "A photograph isn't history; it's a sample of history, and it reveals a lot, but it also obscures a lot."