Women at the End of the World

Inspired by Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, the novel selected for Northwestern’s yearly campus-wide One Book One Northwestern program, this series brings together cinematic visions of dystopia and apocalypse featuring women at their center. Like Atwood’s novel, these four films all emerged in the mid-1980s, and all respond to the same political, ecological, and cultural anxieties that figure in The Handmaid’s Tale through their diverse voices and divergent approaches to cinematic narrative.

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

Wednesday, October 17, 2018 7:00 PM FREE
(Hayao Miyazaki, 1984, Japan, 35mm, 117 min.)

In Hayao Miyazaki’s beloved animated film, the world has turned into a toxic wasteland in the fallout of global war. Princess Nausicaä’s home, the Valley of the Wind, is one of the few places remaining green and untouched, but becomes threatened by the mutated and destructive creatures of the post-apocalyptic world as well as the dangerous ambitions of rivaling empires of humans. Even in this, his second film, Miyazaki’s trademark style and themes are well established; combining his imaginative vision with environmental concerns.

Subtitled 35mm print!


Thursday, November 15, 2018 7:00 PM FREE
(Lynne Littman, 1983, USA, TBD, 90 min.)

Lynn Littman’s Testament offers a personal, devastating, and subversively feminist account of societal collapse. Narrating the ordeals of a suburban Bay Area family in the weeks after a large-scale nuclear attack, Testament measures the deepening crisis through the resilience of mother Carol (Jane Alexander) as she watches traditional figures of patriarchal authority crumble around her. Avoiding graphic violence, Littman instead explores the emotional toll of catastrophe through strong performances and brilliant editing.

Born In Flames

Friday, November 16, 2018 7:00 PM FREE
(Lizzie Borden, 1983, USA, 35mm, 80 min.)

Set in an alternate-reality socialist democratic United States, Lizzie Borden’s speculative fiction Born in Flames finds the country still plagued by social injustice. This feminist classic is a low-budget, grassroots production, documentary-like in its reflection of a long-gone grungy yet vibrant downtown New York City. Made at the height of the Reagan years, it tackles sexism, racism, and homophobia in its intertwining narratives about two rival pirate radio stations run by women, a trio of female investigative reporters, and a government that still feels threatened by difference. Acclaimed performance artist Ron Vawter appears as an FBI agent, and monologist and actor Eric Bogosian and future director Kathryn Bigelow are also in the cast. Showing in a newly restored 35mm print.

In person: filmmaker Lizzie Borden

Co-presented with the Northwestern Women’s Center

Night of the Comet

Thursday, December 6, 2018 7:00 PM FREE
(Thom Eberhardt, 1984, USA, 35mm, 95 min.)
In this science-fiction cult favorite, a near collision with a comet causes a catastrophe for the planet, killing most living creatures. The select few humans who survived unscathed band together, looking for other survivors while having to contend with the living dead. Filmmaker Thom Eberhardt wrote Night of the Comet around the premise of “valley girls at the end of the world,” and its mix of comedy, camp, and chills is gnarly indeed.