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Guerillere Talks (1978)

This experimental short consists of eight unedited rolls of super-8 film, each of which profiles an individual woman in real time. The women engage in everyday behaviour, such as playing pinball or reading a letter aloud.


Vivienne Dick


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Cast overview:
Vivienne Dick Vivienne Dick ... Herself
Pat Place Pat Place ... Herself
Beate Nilsen Beate Nilsen ... Herself
Ikue Mori Ikue Mori ... Herself
Adele Bertei Adele Bertei ... Herself
Nina Canal Nina Canal ... Herself
Lydia Lunch ... Herself
Anya Phillips Anya Phillips ... Herself


Vivienne Dick's first film consists of eight unedited rolls of super-8 sound footage. A chorus of red and white Kodak leader separates the individual rolls, each of which is a sort of screen test for Dick's female subjects (most of whom are or were associated with the punk music scene). Guerillere Talks can be seen as the extension of Warholian pragmatism to super-8 talkies. However, by juxtaposing various examples of female self-definition against the backdrop of a decaying social order, the film is also the rehearsal and paradigm for Dick's subsequent work. Written by Jim Hoberman

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Plot Keywords:

no wave | punk | independent film | See All (3) »


Documentary | Short







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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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An important early work
7 March 2018 | by erskine-bridgeSee all my reviews

The 'No Wave' creative movement in music and cinema of the late 1970s in New York was characterised by an outright rejection of established aesthetic boundaries. No Wave deconstructs notions of how cinema should look, how and where it should be viewed, and even questions what entertainment should be.

Vivienne Dick arrived in New York as a young film-maker at the right moment to establish herself as a leading light in this scene. This, her first film, is comprised of a series of short portraits of several of the female personalities of the Downtown art scene. These include; photographer Beate Nilsen, Ikue Mori (the drummer for seminal no wave band DNA), Lydia Lunch (musician, poet and queen of the no wave scene), Pat Place (artist, photographer and musician in The Contortions and Bush Tetras), Adele Bertei (organ and guitar player in the original line up of the Contortions), and Anya Philips (manager of The Contortions and the co-founder of the legendary New York nightclub the Mudd Club)

Dick met most of these women at a feminist art salon in the late 70s called Les Guérillères after Monique Wittig's feminist novel of the same name about a group of warrior women who assault patriarchal language. The members of Les Guérillères would meet informally on Dick's rooftop and discuss art, politics, and sexuality and share their latest art works.

Dick, who had originally planned to make a film of Les Guérillères, was instead inspired to make Guerillere Talks as an opportunity to remove her performers from the "male gaze" and to foreground them, and women generally, on their own terms within the established masculine art form of cinema.

Dick's energetic, rough and ready, guerrilla-style approach to film-making demands a new way of engaging with the art and frames her, as the director, as collaborator with the women she films, rather than voyeur. The film presents the self-defining speech and action of women and juxtaposes it against a backdrop of a decaying social order. In doing so, it provides an example of resistance to and rejection of cultural and commercial aesthetic normalcy. This is a theme she would return to in her subsequent work.

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