Women of Sci-Fi


Presented by Strictly Brohibited

Wednesday, May 13 – Tuesday, May 19, 2020

At the start of 2020, The Brattle launched a year-long programming initiative to celebrate science fiction cinema. Each one of our bi-monthly schedules was to have included significant programs and series dedicated to the genre but, little did we know, we would soon be living through our own dystopic timeline. In order to continue our “Year of Science Fiction” while in shutdown mode, we invited our friends at Strictly Brohibited to curate a series of sci-fi films that have a significant creative contribution from women – either behind the camera or the page of the script. Beginning this Wednesday, May 13 and running through May 19, The Brattle will be highlighting these titles in a WOMEN OF SCI-FI series. Additionally, the team behind Strictly Brohibited will be joining us to discuss the series on next week’s episode of THE BRATTLE FILM PODCAST.

Wed, May 13


Streaming on Kanopy; for rent elsewhere

2018 • dir Arwen Curry w/Ursula K. Le Guin, Margaret Atwood, Michael Chabon, Neil Gaiman • 68 min

Groundbreaking barely begins to describe the career of Ursula K. Le Guin. One of the first science-fiction/fantasy authors to be taken seriously as a literary talent, Le Guin produced a run of fiction that includes an indelible fantasy series (the Earthsea novels and stories) as well as the classics The Left Hand of Darkness, The Lathe of Heaven, and The Dispossessed, among many, many others. In this engaging documentary, completed shortly after her death, Le Guin speaks at length about her life as well as the themes and subjects of her work. – NH

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Thu, May 14


Streaming on Netflix; for rent elsewhere

1998 • dir Mimi Leder w/Téa Leoni, Elijah Wood, Vanessa Redgrave, Robert Duvall, Morgan Freeman • 120 min

A massive comet is on a collision-course with Earth, threatening to trigger an E.L.E. (Extinction Level Event). When a reporter (Leoni) accidentally uncovers the truth, the U.S. government, led by President Beck (Freeman), announces a plan to send a team of astronauts, led by veteran pilot Spurgeon “Fish” Tanner (Duvall) on a mission to destroy the comet and save humanity.

Though overshadowed at the time of its release by Armageddon, which came out less than two months after this movie hit theaters, DEEP IMPACT is an entertaining and epic story from director Mimi Leder that provides a decidedly different perspective on the planetary disaster genre. – AD

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Fri, May 15 • Double Feature


Streaming on Kanopy; for rent elsewhere

1983 • dir Lizzie Borden w/Honey, Adele Bertei, Jean Satterfield • 79 min

The movie that rocked the foundations of the early Indie film world, this provocative classic is a fantasy of female rebellion set in America ten years after a social democratic cultural revolution. When Adelaide Norris, the black radical founder of the Woman’s Army, is mysteriously killed, a diverse coalition of women – across all lines of race, class, and sexual preference – emerges to blow the System apart. Nonconformist to the point of being avant-garde, BORN IN FLAMES is like no other science-fiction film before or since.

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Streaming on AmazonPrime and Shudder; for rent elsewhere

1982 • dir Slava Tsukerman w/Anne Carlisle, Paula E. Sheppard, Susan Doukas; co-written by Anne Carlisle, Nina V. Kerova • 112 min

This insanely audacious, deeply influential alien encounter film is so unique that it practically seems to have come from outer space itself. Margaret (Carlisle) is a long-legged, bleached blonde model in the downtown New York art scene of the early 80s who lives with her heroin-dealing girlfriend in a seedy penthouse apartment. When a small UFO containing an incorporeal alien lifeform that feeds off of the endorphin rush caused by heroin and orgasms, lands on her roof, a bizarre, symbiotic relationship develops. By turns brutal (Margaret is victimized at every turn by literally everyone that she meets), surreally beautiful, and just plain strange, LIQUID SKY is a supremely idiosyncratic take on the ‘androgynous alien’ themes that rise out of the glam, punk and disco movements of the 1970s. – NH

Content warning: There are several intense, visceral rape scenes in this film.

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Sat, May 16 • Double Feature


Streaming on Hulu; for rent elsewhere

2005 • dir Karyn Kusama w/Charlize Theron, Sophie Okonedo, Marton Csokas, Jonny Lee Miller, Frances McDormand • 93 min

We may never know what Karyn Kusama’s original vision for this film was since it’s been widely reported that the studio took it out of her hands claiming her version was too arty. A strange claim against a film based on an abstract, art deco inspired animated series but… y’know… studios. In any case, what remains is notable for many reasons – not the least of which is Charlize Theron’s first real turn as an action star, 10 years before Mad Max: Fury Road. Theron plays the title character, an acrobatic assassin in the far future working for a rebellion against the totalitarian rulers of the last remnants of humanity. – NH

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Streaming on Hulu; for rent elsewhere

1995 • dir Rachel Talalay w/Lori Petty, Naomi Watts, Ice-T, Malcolm McDowell • 104 min

“Feeling a little inadequate?” Lori Petty is a tank-riding outlaw in a drought-ravaged dystopian wasteland who teams up with Jet Girl (Watts) and a group of genetically-modified Kangaroo-men know as Rippers against the authoritarian Water & Power corporation run by a maniacal villain (McDowell). Though critically panned at the time of its release, TANK GIRL has since become a cult classic, recognized for its queer, anticapitalist, and feminist themes — all set to a killer soundtrack compiled by Courtney Love, featuring Bjork, Portishead, Devo, Joan Jett, and Veruca Salt, among others. – AD

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Sun, May 17 • Double Feature


Streaming on Hulu; for rent elsewhere

2015 • dir Lucile Hadzihalilovic w/Max Brebant, Roxane Duran, Julie-Marie Pamentier • 81 min

This eerily seductive mind-bender is a dark, dreamlike descent into the depths of the unknown. Ten-year-old Nicolas (Brebant) lives in a remote seaside village populated only by boys his age and adult women. But when he makes a disturbing discovery beneath the ocean waves – a dead boy with a red starfish on his stomach – Nicolas begins to question everything about his existence. What are the half-remembered images he recalls, as if from another life? If the woman he lives with is not his mother, then who is she? And what awaits the boys when they are all suddenly confined to a hospital? This haunting sci-fi art film is awash in the haunting, otherworldly images of a nightmare. – NH

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Streaming on Kanopy and AmazonPrime; for rent elsewhere

2017 • dir Claire Denis w/Robert Pattinson, Juliette Binoche, Mia Goth, André Benjamin • 113 min

In her most recent film, her first in English, esteemed French director Claire Denis strays further into genre than ever before, creating a sci-fi art film infused with the spirit of Andrei Tarkovsky and 2001: A Space Odyssey. Inside a spacecraft traveling on a doomed mission to explore a black hole, a group of convicts deal with their own isolation and mortality – and the strange, sexual experiments of their shipboard doctor (Binoche). – NH

Content warning: There is a violent attempted rape scene and other sexual violence plus a few gory shots.

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Mon, May 18 • Double Feature


Streaming on Kanopy; for rent elsewhere

2019 • dir Alice Waddington w/Emma Roberts, Danielle Macdonald, Awkwafina, Eiza González, Milla Jovovich • 95 min

This futuristic sci-fi fairy tale stars Emma Roberts as Uma, the daughter of an aristocratic family who is spirited off to a mysterious, isolated reform center. Uma is supposedly being groomed for her impending marriage-for-money to a brutal businessman but, instead, uncovers truths about herself – and the sinister mistress of the facility (Jovovich) – that lead her down a different, more dangerous path. Lush visuals and inventive world-building make PARADISE HILLS a fun and engaging watch. – NH

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Streaming on Netflix; for rent elsewhere

2015 • dir Jennifer Phang w/Jacqueline Kim, Samantha Kim, James Urbaniak, Freya Adams, Ken Jeong, Jennifer Ehle • 90 min

Set in a future where dwindling resources and population growth have continued to exacerbate issues that we face in today’s society, a single mother struggles to provide for her gifted daughter. When she is faced with the prospect of losing her job as the spokesperson for a tech company that claims to provide a fountain of youth product, she must decide whether or not to undertake the still experimental procedure herself. Writer/director Jennifer Phang does a fantastic job of creating an all-too believable future world in this moving and thoughtful indie sci-fi film. – NH

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Tue, May 19


Streaming on Disney+; for rent elsewhere

2018 • dir Ava DuVernay w/Storm Reid, Levi Miller, Deric McCabe, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Chris Pine, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Zach Galifianakis, Richard Peña • 109 min

This big budget family sci-fi fantasy adventure based on the beloved novel by Madeleine L’Engle was doomed to controversy almost from the beginning. Though the results are not perfect, A WRINKLE IN TIME definitely deserves better notices than it received upon release. The deliberately diverse casting, gorgeous costumes, and inventive visuals all combine to create a film like nothing you have seen before. When her scientist father disappears, Meg Murry (Reid) faces years of bullying and dismay until, one day, three peculiar extraterrestrial beings appear in her life and offer her the chance to go on a galaxy-wide quest to find him – and her own confidence. – NH

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Streaming on AmazonPrime; for rent elsewhere

2018 • dir Julia Hart w/Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Lorraine Toussaint, Saniyya Sidney, David Strathairn • 100 min

In the near-future, a young woman (Mbatha-Raw) with super human powers is on the run from the government. With nowhere left to hide, she is forced to return home to her estranged mother (Toussaint) and the daughter (Sidney) that she abandoned years ago. Pursued by the sympathetic local sheriff (Strathairn) and a hostile government agent, she must learn to face her past in order to harness her abilities and repair the things that have been broken. – AD

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Writing Credits:

NH – Ned Hinkle
AD – Alissa Darsa
KB – Kim Baillargeon
RL – Rachel Lanza