Screening Dates
  • March 7 (Thursday) 8:10
  • March 9 (Saturday) 6:30
  • March 17 (Sunday) 8:10
New Restoration

A film I wished I had seen as a teenager. Not a Pretty Picture feels strikingly close to contemporary narratives and the reflexive politics around the gaze. It means it contributed to inventing them all.”

Céline Sciamma

In 1976, trailblazing director Martha Coolidge (Valley Girl, Rambling Rose) made her feature film debut with the startling Not a Pretty Picture, a documentary-fiction hybrid that continues to raise provocative questions about sexual violence and the ethics of its onscreen representation. Coolidge based the film’s fictional sections on her rape at the age of 16; in the role of her younger self, she cast Michele Manenti, also a rape victim. As they interpret Coolidge’s script, cast members reflect on their encounters with assault, their feelings about acting out scenes of intense aggression, their attitudes concerning consent, trauma, and self-blame, and, in the case of Coolidge’s best friend Anne Mundstuk, their ability to play themselves. Realizing documentary’s potential to foster personal catharsis and interpersonal dialogue, Not a Pretty Picture stands as one of the genre’s boldest and most revelatory experiments in meta-cinema. —Janus Films

Courageous and innovative … Its blend of documentary and dramatic filmmaking, of first-person reflection and reenactment, sets a standard for cinematic inquiry.”

Richard Brody, The New Yorker

Intense and insightful … We are still learning the same lessons Coolidge was trying to impart so long ago.”

April Wolfe, The Village Voice