Megan Moodie, Associate Professor of Anthropology, recently published an interview with Irene Lustig about Lusztig’s new film, “Yours in Sisterhood.” The collaboration between Moodie and Lusztig was sparked by the Complicated Labors research cluster, funded by The Humanities Institute in 2012.
As Moodie explains, “It was such a labor of love to work on a piece about Irene Lusztig’s new film, “Yours in Sisterhood.” First, because I think it’s timely, moving, and important. But also because Irene and I have now been collaborating on projects of art and thought of various kinds — along with our other comadre, Micah Perks — since the Complicated Labors research cluster was funded by the IHR in 2012. I so value the relationships across campus that this cluster made possible for me, and hope to reprise the group in future.” This is just one example of the impact THI research clusters have on campus and beyond.
The film will be shown on campus on May 22nd.
To bring the relationship between past and present to life on screen, Lusztig curated a selection of the Ms. Magazine letters and over the course of three years traveled to the location from which each letter was originally sent. From New York and Los Angeles to small-town Iowa and Alabama, she cast local readers — none of them actors — to present the original letter on screen via a teleprompter. She then invited the readers to reflect on what they read while she kept the camera rolling. The result is simple and staggering, as letter readers relate to, or argue against, or reconsider issues raised by letter writers: the history of public feminism is restaged so as to create a new kind of contemporary public feminism. One that is intentional, intersectional, face-to-face, and handmade.
I got to have several conversations about Yours in Sisterhood with Lusztig (she hand-hemmed while I knitted socks) that continued over email. The daughter of refugees from Ceauşescu’s Romania, she has long been attracted to times and places undergoing dramatic political change; much of her earlier work (Lusztig has been the solo writer-director-producer of five long-form documentary films) was animated by pressing concerns about the end of the Cold War. The issues — and possibilities — raised by this new work have a similar urgency. Yours in Sisterhood had its North American debut at Hot Docs and its US premiere at the Art of the Real showcase at Lincoln Center in New York City. I believe that the film will teach viewers something important about how public feminism might change for the better through their experience as its audience. After all, the next step after learning how to appreciate an art is learning how to do it. What happens if we take to the pen instead of the keyboard? Sit together, facing one another, with needle and thread? If we make, rather than post?