QUEEN OF DIAMONDS – Review by Leslie Combemale

It’s not easy living in a transactional world without losing hope. That seems to be one of the truths evident to viewers of Queen of Diamonds. Newly restored, the film is written, produced, directed, and shot by feminist auteur Nina Menkes. She has been in the spotlight most recently for her documentary Brainwashed: Sex, Camera, Power, examin[ng the gendered and often misogynistic visual grammar of cinema. Traveling to an earlier work by Menkes offers a fascinating look at how a female filmmaker can reframe or manipulate what has, over time, become the traditional visual language of film, in the service of more femme-centric storytelling.

Read more

MAGDALENA VIRAGA – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Experimental filmmaker Nina Menkes’s reputation for fearless, bold cinema is nowhere more readily evidenced than her groundbreaking 1986 feature Magdalena Viraga. Menkes situates the raw authenticity of her central characters prostitution in a powerful tension with theatrically delivered dialogue and, just as notably, her extraordinary eye for colour, texture and shape. Wrinkled fabrics, flickering candles and ornate wallpapers permeate the film, again amplifying the tactile nature of the movie, rendering it an experience that you can almost feel on your skin as much as process through the eye. Ultimately, it is this experience of sensory absorption that – when combined with the powerful emotional and ideological engine of the film – renders Magdalena Viraga such a wholly unique experience. A film to be felt as much as thought about, this is a film that leaves an unremovable stain.

Read more

THE BLOODY CHILD – Review by Diane Carson

The central scenario in director Nina Menkes’ The Bloody Child is straightforward and simple. Soldiers arrest a U.S. Marine, a veteran of the Gulf War, found in the Mojave Desert digging a grave for the wife he’s murdered. However, this deceptively uneventful apprehension unfolds predominantly in reverse chronological order, with two other primary locations frequently interjected: a bar and a jungle scene. In addition, several other fragments from diverse arenas interrupt the narrative flow, with events possibly connected to or witnessed by the unnamed murderer in wartime experiences, all of this suggested thematically but never made explicit.

Read more