UK, 1992 (MIFF 1993, Documentaries)
Director: Susan Seidelman
The suburb was Huntingdon Valley, Philadelphia; the confessions are those of Susan Seidelman, director of Smithereens, Cookie, Desperately Seeking Susan and She Devil; and the subject is teenage reminiscence 1960's style.
Seidelman takes a detour from Hollywood — back to the old neighbourhood — to conjure up this delightful doco-drama, which mixes slick reportage, interviews with school friends and 60's memorabilia, with black and white recreations of teen memories. These visual anecdotes bear witness to her statement that she lionised the tough kids in town, admitting she became a director in New York to get actors to realise her suppressed 'bad girl' fantasies (a Jewish girl who really wanted to be like the cigarette smoking Italian chicks from the other side of the shopping mall). Clips from her films are used to revealing effect, directly illustrating Seidelman's confessions — movie buffs will enjoy the juxtapositions, its pure myth making, auteurist theory territory.
When the suburbanites and Seidelman (the escapee) get together, the film becomes an entertaining all-girls-together gossip session. They discuss dieting, shopping, growing up, boys, bowling, drive-ins and sex — and in doing so allow the director to lightly touch on the era's social changes: feminism, revolution, changing perception of marriage and family.
Confessions of a Suburban Girl is a wonderfully visual and humourous documentary - Seidelman's first, a fun-filled look back at what dreams and expectations of life girls had in the early sixties, and what those women think today. It charts the development of that socially designed phenomenon, the suburban housewife and also opens out the themes and obsessions in Seidelman's own work, particularly her female characters.