Author Archives: Chicago Film Archives

Lie Back and Enjoy It

An eight-minute dialectical film about the politics of representation. More specifically, it examines the politics of filmic representation of women under patriarchy. An undergraduate male student paid it a true compliment in declaring that he can no longer look at a woman in a film without thinking about the consequences of the filmmaker’s use of

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3 Goats and a Gruff

3 Goats and a Gruff” is presumed to be Elam’s first finished film, made while she lived in Yellow Springs, OH, in the late 1960s. In this fable, a “gruff” living in the woods threatens to shoot three “goats” passing, one by one, through a covered bridge. The first, a hippie flower woman, implores the

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Julia Lesage has described Rape as “an explicitly feminist documentary film which uses experimental techniques” in order to tell the stories of rape victims and analyze various myths and facts about rape in the United States. Lesage describes the structure of the film as “that of one evening’s conversation in which women who had been

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“Windows” documents the views of and out from windows around JoAnn Elam’s Logan Square neighborhood in Chicago. The first section begins at an El train stop, capturing the station itself and the views of people playing tennis as seen from the moving train. A switch approximately halfway through the runtime moves the action to downtown

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Woman’s Place & Dance (Original)

Filmed at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, OH, “Woman’s Place & Dance” features a group of young women and men running around and enjoying themselves on the grass outside. Among their activities are jumping rope, posing in different positions, and wearing colorful masks, but the film is primarily concerned with capturing the sense of free

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Tai Chi Bowling (Original)

The ancient art of Tai Chi transitions seamlessly into the fluid movements of bowling. Exact date of production unknown.

Windchimes, Window, Tree

Footage of trees swaying in the sunlight, as seen from a window. A windchime in silhouette periodically obscures the trees.


Popcorn” begins with a teenaged boy reading from an unknown text inside a living room. JoAnn Elam is seen knitting, presumably nearby, before entering the kitchen and proceeding to cook popcorn on the stovetop. Each step is filmed in extreme close-up, with an emphasis on hands and tactility. This attention to process is similar to

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Pup Birth

“Pup Birth” captures the excitement, chaos, and tenderness between a dog and her newly-born litter of puppies. In intimate close-up, the puppies crawl around and nuzzle with their mother, mirroring JoAnn Elam’s own affection for dogs and animals in general. The date of production remains unknown.

Sanibel (Original)

Shot in the Sunshine State, this 8mm film takes us on a textural trip to Sanibel, Florida’s shelly shores.