80 minutes, U.S.A., 1983, Colour, DVD

We are delighted that filmmaker Pat Murphy will introduce this screening, and that Jesse Jones will introduce her short film.

Set in a future New York, ten years after an alternative socialist democracy promised to end inequality, women, workers and ethnic groups are still suffering oppression.

Born in Flames focuses on various feminist factions, in disagreement about how to instigate change: Pat Murphy and Kathryn Bigelow play left-wing journalists; lesbian no wave singer Adele Bertei calls for radical action; and African-American Honey is the temperate mouthpiece for Phoenix Radio. These groups unite when the chief of the women’s army is arrested and dies suspiciously in prison.

An exhilarating sci-fi, Born in Flames still makes for clamorous viewing.

This film is showing with Jesse Jones’ Against the Realm of the Absolute.

Commissioned by Collective gallery Edinburgh, Against the Realm of the Absolute is set in a distant future in which a great plague has wiped out the male population of the world. Adapted in part, from Joanna’s Russ’s iconic separatist feminist Sci-Fi novel The Female Man (1975), the film seeks to investigate the multiple narratives of feminism and how it is inevitably tied to a critique of capitalism itself.

Filmed in the ash lagoons of Cockenzie power station and made in collaboration with a feminist megaphone choir formed by Jones in Edinburgh in 2011, Against the Realm of the Absolute attempts to attend to the multiple possible dytopic future crisis we might face and how, through this very act of fictional speculation, we may in turn open up critiques of our present reality. (12 minutes, Ireland-Scotland, 2011, Colour, Blu-ray). 

(Notes by Alice Butler.)

This event is part of Beyond the Bechdel Test, our season throughout July focusing on the work of directors who have explored the complex ties between women that are an integral aspect of the films’ narratives, named after the American cartoonist Alison Bechdel who introduced the idea in her 1985 comic strip.

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