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World Cinema Series: Wanda, directed by Barbara Loden

What One of the great lost works of 1970s American cinema, Wanda, is the only film directed by Barbara Loden, a celebrated stage and sometimes film actress, who was inspired to turn to directing by a newspaper account of Wanda Goranski, a female bank robber who thanked the judge for a 20 year sentence.
When 10 November 2009 (Tuesday), 7:30 pm
Where National Museum of Singapore, Gallery Theatre
93 Stamford Road Singapore 178897
Admission

Free admission but members only -- flash your membership card to go in. You may bring up to 2 guests if you hold a SFS Reel membership card. Non-members may sign up online or at the door -- we will issue membership on the spot. No tickets will be sold. Free seating.

 

WORLD CINEMA SERIES
A programme of the National Museum of Singapore Cinémathèque
10 November, 8 December
7.30pm
Gallery Theatre, Basement
$8 / $6.40 Concession (Exclusive of SISTIC fee)
Free admission for Singapore Film Society members.

World Cinema Series is a monthly screening of works by the boldest and most inventive auteurs from the history of cinema.

This series charts both the significant and less discovered territories of cinema – from the early silent era to underground films, and new wave film movements around the world by some of the greatest mavericks and artists of film.


Tuesday 10 November, 7.30pm
Wanda

Dir: Barbara Loden
1970 | USA | 102 min | Digital-Beta | Rating to be advised

One of the great lost works of 1970s American cinema, Wanda, is the only film directed by Barbara Loden, a celebrated stage and sometimes film actress, who was inspired to turn to directing by a newspaper account of Wanda Goranski, a female bank robber who thanked the judge for a 20 year sentence. Loden spent several years developing the screenplay and eventually collaborated with Nicholas T. Proferes - a cameraman for pioneer documentarists D.A. Pennebaker and the Maysles brothers - who shot and co-wrote the film with her.

It is a minimalist road movie where the title character walks away from her already wrecked family life in a mining community and drifts across the parched, desolated landscapes of middle-America. Eventually she connects with a petty criminal, so that they can become, as Loden noted, “the anti-Bonnie and Clyde.” Shot with a 16mm hand-held camera with intense naturalism and room for improvisation, Wanda is both a gritty drama and a haunting, uncompromising character study of a woman desperately running out of options.

Wanda received a limited release in New York but was greatly praised in Europe where it won the Critic’s Prize at the Venice Film Festival. Since then it has slipped into obscurity until recently. It is a film that, in the words of one of its admirers, novelist Don Delillo, “worked against the grain of its time.”

About the Director Barbara Loden

For the most part, Barbara Loden was known primarily as an actress in Hollywood films and on Broadway. She studied acting in New York in the 1950s at a time when training for actors was being revolutionised by the ‘method’ taught by Lee Strasberg and Elia Kazan at the Actors Studio. The story of how she was ‘discovered’ by Kazan, then already a legendary theatre and film director, and became both an actress in his projects and his lover (Kazan was married), before she became his second wife in an often tempestuous marriage, has been mythologised in many books, not least by Kazan himself in his novel The Arrangement (which was filmed), and then later in his searing autobiography, Elia Kazan: A Life.

On film, Loden shone in supporting roles in Wild River (1960) and then Splendour in the Grass (1961) alongside Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty. Kazan also directed her onstage playing a fictionalised version of Marilyn Monroe in the Arthur Miller play, After The Fall, a part for which he claimed she was uncannily suited.

Wanda is the only film Loden directed, and it was clearly a labour of love and pain. She wrote the script six years before it was made, and had not originally intended to direct it. Finding the budget required for the film proved difficult, and during that period, she met Nicholas Proferes, a documentary cameraman, who became her collaborator, and the two worked closely on the film.

Wanda was ground-breaking as it anticipated much of the experimentation of the 1970s. After its critical success, Loden and Proferes intended to collaborate again, and a number of scripts were written. Sadly, she never got the chance, dying of cancer in 1980 at a tragically young age.