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Wanda

  • Directed by Barbara Loden
  • United States, 1970, 102 mins., English

Barbara Loden’s sole feature film is a heartbreaking peek inside one average woman’s life circa 1970 as she bounces from man to man and town to town in search of stability. Loden, who had occasionally acted—including a memorable part in Frank Perry’s The Swimmer (1968)—and was married to Elia Kazan for many years, wrote, directed, and starred in this early feminist masterpiece, which has long been unavailable despite winning the Best Foreign Film award at the Venice Film Festival. Following Wanda Goronski (Loden) through sooty, polluted western Pennsylvania, the film is a compassionate, intensely felt look into the despair of aimlessness and limited opportunity. More pointedly, the film invokes a critique of patriarchal authority in the US through its depiction of a woman bounded entirely into situations created by the despicable men in her life. Shortly before her early death from cancer in 1980, Loden wrote, “There’s so much I didn’t achieve, but I tried to be independent and to create my own way. Otherwise, I would have become like Wanda, all my life just floating around.” Presented in a new 4k restoration by the UCLA Film & Television Archive.

Genres: Drama