Film About a Woman Who... 1974. USA. Directed by Yvonne Rainer. Cinematography by Babette Mangolte. With Rainer, Dempster Leech, Shirley Soffer, John Erdman, Renfreu Neff, James Barth, Epp Kotkas, Sarah Soffer, Tannis Hugill, Valda Setterfield. 16mm. 105 min.
In a 1974 exchange with Jonas Mekas in the Village Voice, Yvonne Rainer suggested Film About a Woman Who... could be placed somewhere between Ingmar Bergman’s Cries and Whispers and Hollis Frampton’s Critical Mass—appropriate bookends given the artist’s pursuit to give novel form to emotional material. Rainer’s second feature, this intricately structured, minimalist film both exploits and upends melodramatic tropes, probing sexual conflict and the potential for psychodrama among a host of unnamed characters through an enigmatic assemblage of text and still and moving images. Following the looser Lives of Performers, a rigorous, evocative script is at the center of Film About a Woman Who.... In the same Voice interview, Rainer reflected on the use of language, and her first films: “the constant is a certain emotional, loaded material that I choose to deal with. And the reason I went into film-making was because in dance I could not directly deal with that material. I couldn’t deal with it via my body.” Preserved by The Museum of Modern Art with support from the Celeste Bartos Fund for Film Preservation.