86 minutes, U.S.A., 1978, Colour, 16mm

Having just moved in together, Susan (a brilliant, self-deprecating Melanie Mayron) is baffled when her best friend and aspiring writer Anne (Anita Skinner) announces she’s leaving New York to marry hair-splitting bore Martin (Bob Balaban). While Anne settles down, Susan ekes out a more offbeat lifestyle as a photographer and entertains brief affairs, including one with a married Rabbi.

Since Lena Dunham screened Girlfriends at the BAMCinematek in 2012, resemblances have been drawn between it and the candid humour in Dunham’s own work, as well as with Noah Baumbach’s Frances Ha, but this undervalued film has an appeal all of its own that urgently requires more widespread acclaim. (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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