Seven Women, Seven Sins

West Germany/Belgium/France/USA/Austria 1987. Dirs: Maxi Cohen, Chantal Akerman, VALIE EXPORT, Laurence Gavron, Bette Gordon, Ulrike Ottinger, Helke Sander. 101 min. 16mm

In 1986, the innovative German television broadcaster ZDF asked seven women filmmakers to interpret the seven deadly sins. Their answer was this remarkable anthology of generative approaches to feminist cinema. We have documentarian Maxi Cohen to thank for unifying these varied strategies into a single 16mm film, starting with Ulrike Ottinger’s delirious take on “Pride,” the sin of sins, and ending with VALIE EXPORT’s music video on modern “Lust.” Helke Sander presents “Gluttony,” set in a cartoonish Garden of Eden, as the original case of over-giving to a boyfriend. Chantal Akerman won’t get out of bed to make “Sloth.” There’s “Greed” in the ladies’ lounge and “Envy” at the symphony in narrative shorts by, respectively, Bette Gordon and Laurence Gavron. Cohen’s own contribution involved placing a back-page ad in the Village Voice inviting random readers to talk on camera about their “Anger,” with predictably explosive results.