Re-born in flames

Re-born in flames

First released in 1983, Born In Flames captures a moment of feminist zeal, using real street-hardened activists, and tells the story of what would happen if women really did get militant.

Shot in documentary style, it depicts the birth of the Women’s Army in a future socialist democracy after the most peaceful, bloodless revolution in US history.

Borden plots the course of the liberation movement, largely made up of oppressed black women and lesbians, from innocent, token demonstrations to a powerful display of violent retaliation.

The film is an impressive legacy for a director who has not lost any of her passion for social change, embracing the tangent queer and race equality movements with boundless vigour.

Originally named Linda Elizabeth Borden, she tellingly adopted the name of the infamous axe-murder suspect after reading about her at age 11.

Softly spoken, with no hint of the aggression of her filmmaking, she sees communication as the key to self-determination and liberation.

Her characters react accordingly with escalating levels of violence as the Women’s Army’s voice is cut off -“ their sympathetic journalists are sacked and radio stations shut down.

Years before either 9/11 or the earlier bombing of the World Trade Center, her characters respond to the censorship of their press and the murder of their leader by planting a bomb in the WTC.

Definitely they had to use weapons to have access to the television and radio that they needed in order to get their message across and, God, I never imagined that the World Trade Center would blow up.

But more than some mere violent orgy, Borden’s film is laden with rewarding images for liberation activists.

Disjointed white and black women’s movements, separated further by class, become united when an oppressive government goes too far.

Borden searched hard to find actors who could pull off the passion for the roles, ultimately seeking out black women activists from neighbourhoods far different from her own.

Using guerrilla filmmaking, protest scenes were shot at real demonstrations, and a staged secretaries’ march was joined by unwitting pedestrians who saw the display -“ sci-fi and reality blending seamlessly in an image of universal truth.

A remake of the classic is in the works by Jamie Babbit (But I’m a Cheerleader) called Itty Bitty Titty Committee, slated as a comedy.

Born In Flames is showing on Wednesday 24 January at the Dendy Newtown. Tickets are $14.50/ $11.50 concession/ $10 QS members and available from the Queer Screen website or from MCA Tix on 1300 306 776.

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