"Bold and daring in 1983, and nearly as radical in 2016, Born in Flames broke new ground in the world of feminist filmmaking—and beyond. Critics and audiences would be well advised to see where at least some of today's more envelope-pushing ideas originated." – Film Journal International
In a near-future New York, a decade after a peaceful revolution known as the Social Democratic War of Liberation, women find that not much has changed: they are still second-class citizens, harassed, oppressed and exploited. When a leading feminist activist dies behind bars – officials rule it suicide but murder is suspected – the counterrevolutionary Women's Army rises up, led by two underground radio DJs: a collaborative, community-minded African-American and an angry, white, anarchist; both lesbians. Can they overcome their interpersonal and political differences to find unification in a common cause?
Feminist filmmaker Lizzie Borden (Working Girls, MIFF 1986) spent five years piecing together her sophomore feature, Born in Flames, creating a gritty, almost Brechtian collage of genres – it wouldn't be too far off to call it a radical political sci-fi vérité musical satire! – out of fake news videos, FBI reports, radio segments and dramatic narrative, the sum total of which is a blisteringly defiant manifesto. Featuring esteemed civil rights lawyer Flo Kennedy and a young Kathryn Bigelow in supporting roles, and bolstered by a bracingly punk soundtrack featuring Red Krayola and The Bloods, the film is an essential document of early intersectional feminism. Meticulously restored by New York City's Anthology Film Archives, it's as relevant today as ever.
"A potential blueprint for feminist change … It's one of those movies where you're like, ‘Everybody needs to see this'." – Kathleen Hanna
Preserved by Anthology Film Archives with restoration funding from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and The Film Foundation.
10 Aug 2016
BORN IN FLAMES (85 mins)
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