MoMA Presents: Donna Deitch’s Desert Hearts

Dec 2–8, 2016


Desert Hearts. 1986. USA. Directed by Donna Deitch. Courtesy of the filmmaker

Columbia University professor Vivian Bell takes a train to Reno, Nevada, seeking a divorce. It is the 1950s, and getting a divorce not only means uprooting your entire existence, but also uprooting yourself in order to file one! Vivian lodges at a local ranch, where other would-be divorcées cool their heels awaiting judicial processing. When Vivian meets Cay, a down-to-earth local, she feels a spark, but isn't quite sure why. So much of this journey—the desert landscape, the country music—is all very alien to a former East Coast academic. Cay, on the other hand, is instantly in love. Upon its release in 1986, critics hailed Desert Hearts as “brave,” “direct,” “loving,” and “romantic.” Now, MoMA celebrates the 30th anniversary of this enduring film by screening director Donna Deitch’s own 35mm print. The director will be present at several screenings.

Organized by Anne Morra, Associate Curator, Department of Film.


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