Wives. Photo courtesy of the Norwegian Film Institute.

Anja Breien: Games of Love and Loneliness

November 1–9, 2013

Organized by guest curator Maria Fosheim Lund
Presented with the cooperation of the Norwegian Film Institute, and with support from the Royal Norwegian Consulate General.

Tickets for all of the Anja Breien screenings, and the opening reception, are free. Just ask for your tickets at the front desk when you arrive.

Celebrated in her home country and throughout Europe, but little-known in America, the Norwegian film director Anja Breien makes feminist, politically aware fiction and documentary films. Because of their formal fluidity, exploration of women’s issues, and controlled directorial style, her films have often been compared to those of Chantal Akerman. Her first feature film, Rape (1971), a critique of the Norwegian judicial system, is not told chronologically, but starts simultaneously at the beginning and the end, working its way into the middle; it was recently compared to Asghar Farhadi’s A Separation (2011). Inspired by John Cassavetes’s Husbands (1970), Breien made Wives (1975) as a riposte. A major commercial and critical hit throughout Scandinavia, it follows the exploits of three housewives who decide to relinquish familial responsibilities and spend a day exploring their freedom. For this film, and its sequel, featuring the same characters played by the same actors, ten years later, critic Peter Cowie described Breien as a Dogme director 20 years before Dogme arrived. Next of Kin (1979), a satirical look at family members vying over an inheritance, was selected for the main competition in Cannes in 1979; Ingmar Bergman, a fan of the film, told Breien that it should have won an award. This retrospective, the first one of Breien’s work in the United States, is a rare opportunity to see her work theatrically, with the filmmaker in person and an introduction by renowned scholar Jane Gaines.