When she completed her first feature in 1972, Yvonne Rainer, a founding member of the avant-garde Judson Dance Theater, was already established as a key choreographer of her generation; her contributions to filmmaking, surveyed in this comprehensive retrospective, would prove just as radical. Rainer’s cinema signaled new possibilities for film language, retooling narrative generally and melodrama specifically with a disjunctive audiovisual syntax, restless political intelligence, deft appropriation, and deadpan wit. Here questions of form raise, rather than diminish, the emotional stakes. “I remember that movie,” reads an intertitle from Lives of Performers, echoed across Rainer’s filmography: “It’s about all these small betrayals, isn’t it?” Complementing the lineup, as context and counterpoint, are works that feature Rainer as subject or actor, as well as those that influenced her and selections from her fellow travelers in the burgeoning feminist film movement of the 1970s.

Special thanks to the British Film Institute, the Museum of Modern Art, Zeitgeist Films, and Video Data Bank.

Organized by Thomas Beard.

Yvonne Rainer’s Poems will be available to purchase during the series:

Poems is a collection of never before published poems by choreographer and filmmaker Yvonne Rainer. Full of wit and candor, they offer a window into the life and mind of one of America’s greatest living artists. Accompanying the poems is a selection of images curated by Rainer and an introduction by poet and critic Tim Griffin.