Solidarity | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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This month the Film Center is presenting a retrospective series on Canadian avant-gardist Joyce Wieland (1931-1998), whose best films are wonderfully loose and gently poetic in examining ordinary things--consistent with the way feminism celebrates daily life--but also tend to superimpose some conceptual element, creating a fascinating contradiction between lyrical and structural filmmaking. In Solidarity (1973) she records a strike at a biscuit factory through shots of workers' feet; her loose handheld framing and precisely observed details of clothing and terrain make the images seem far more open than the narrow view might suggest, while the word SOLIDARITY printed over them reinforces the workers' common goal. Birds at Sunrise (1986), based on footage shot in 1972, evokes the openness of nature, and while many of the birds are framed within a circle, suggesting the enclosed perspective of a bird-watcher, Wieland's movement and editing make the film's space seem almost limitless. This program includes several collaborations: the superbly intense Dripping Water (1969), made with Michael Snow, pairs a static black-and-white shot of the title subject with a far more sensuous sound track, while the witty A and B in Ontario (1984) consists of edited footage from a 1967 outing in which she and Hollis Frampton filmed each other. Also showing: Barbara's Blindness (1965), made with Betty Ferguson, and Perre Vallieres (1972). 97 min. Gene Siskel Film Center, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson, Thursday, March 15, 6:00, 312-443-3737.

--Fred Camper

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