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The Personal is Political (PG*) + Introduction by Susie Orbach and Amalie R Rothschild

Artists and Activists

A still from Woo Who? May Wilson

Second wave feminist filmmakers pioneered the sub-genre of the personal documentary, painting intimate and vivid portraits of a society in the flux of change.

A catchphrase of the Women’s liberation movement was, ‘the personal is political’. Using this belief to shape their films, women pioneered the sub-genre of personal documentary, painting vivid portraits of individual lives that reveal broader truths.

The two slices-of-life films in this series bring to life two very different, enlightened women from very different parts of the United States – an account of an older woman ignored by society; and autobiographical family documentary about a daughter and her father. These seemingly isolated experiences – point to shared feelings and broader truths about a society in the flux of change


Woo Who? May Wilson

Cast off by her husband after 40 years of marriage, May Wilson moves to New York City and embarks on a new, independent life in which her art — what her family considered a mere hobby — becomes central. A seemingly off-beat personal story, the film gives dimension to women our society tends to write off, showing that older women can lead full and fruitful lives outside of marriage.

US 1970 Dir Amalie R Rothschild 33 min Digital presentation
World premiere of the new 4K digital restoration created by IndieCollect, a non-profit organization in New York City

Joe and Maxi

Cohen used her camera as a means of getting to know her father better in the aftermath of her mother’s death. The film is an intimate and revealing portrait of the relationship between a pragmatic and cantankerous father and a daughter embarking on a filmmaking career, and about a family adapting after experiencing loss.

US 1974 Dir Maxi Cohen 80 min 35mm presentation
Preserved with support from NYWIFT’s Women’s Film Preservation Fund
35mm print courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art

Total run time 113 min

* This film has been locally classified by the City of London Corporation

Susie Orbach is a psychotherapist, psychoanalyst, writer, activist and social critic. She is the co-founder of The Women’s Therapy Centre in both London and New York.  She is the author of many books. Her latest In Therapy: The Unfolding Story is an expanded edition of In Therapy (an annotated version of the BBC series listened to live by 2 million people). Her first book Fat is a Feminist Issue has been continuously in print since 1978.  She was recently the recipient of the first Lifetime Achievement Award given by the British Psychoanalytical Society.

Amalie R. Rothschild is an award-winning filmmaker and photographer noted for her documentaries about social issues as revealed through the lives of people in the arts, and for her music photographs from the Fillmore East, Woodstock and other seminal rock events from 1968 to 1974. She is a co-founder of New Day Films, and author of Live at the Fillmore East: A Photographic Memoir. While based in New York City, since 1983 she lives seven months of the year in Italy.

Curated by: Ann Deborah Levy and Kirsten Larvick, Co-Chairs, the Women’s Film Preservation Fund, with programming assistance from Susan Lazarus and Amy Aquilino

The Women's Film Preservation Fund (WFPF) is the only programme in the world dedicated to preserving the cultural legacy of women in the industry through preserving films made by women. Founded in 1995 by New York Women in Film & Television in conjunction with the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), WFPF has preserved more than 150 American films in which women have played key creative roles. These include works by early feminists, women of colour, social activists and artists that represent unique and irreplaceable contributions to American cinematic heritage. Films already preserved range from those of early pioneers, Lois Weber and Alice Guy Blaché, experimental filmmaker, Maya Deren, animator Mary Ellen Bute, to more contemporary feature director Julie Dash; director and cinematographer Jessie Maple; documentarians Trinh T. Minh-ha and Barbara Kopple, and more. The WFPF is rewriting the film history books, one moving picture at a time. 

More information can be found online at:  

New York Women in Film & Television (NYWIFT) supports women calling the shots in film, television and digital media. NYWIFT energises the careers of women in entertainment by illuminating their achievements, providing training and professional development, and advocating for equality. The preeminent entertainment industry association for women in New York, NYWIFT brings together nearly 2,100 women and men working both above and below the line. NYWIFT is part of a network of 40 women in film chapters worldwide, representing more than 10,000 members.

More information can be found online at:

Part of The Art of Change

Our 2018 season explores how the arts respond to, reflect and potentially effect change in the social and political landscape.


Barbican Cinema 3