41 days
88'
United-States, 1979

Production : PENNEBAKER HEGEDUS FILMS (Pennebaker Associates)



Synopsis


On the evening of April 30, 1971, a standing room only audience of local literati and feminists packed New York City’s Town Hall to watch Norman Mailer (who had just written "The Prisoner of Sex"), grapple with a panel of passionate feminists. The subject was Women’s Liberation, an issue on which Mailer seemed like the devil’s own advocate. There to test him was a fearsome panel of feminist representatives, among them journalist and lesbian spokeswoman Jill Johnston; legendary literary critic Diana Trilling; president of The National Organization of Women (NOW), Jacqueline Ceballos; and possibly his toughest match, the glamorous and razor-tongued author of The Female Eunuch, Germaine Greer. On the streets it was simply Mailer versus Greer in a knockdown debate on women’s liberation. It remained the most stimulating and entertaining action to date in the continuing comedy/drama of the war between the sexes and is reverently referred to by writers on the subject.

Tënk's opinion


“Town Bloody Hall” is an astounding time capsule that’s well worth taking another look at. Although many of the contentious topics may appear outmoded, the heart of the discussion between the misogynist Normal Mailer and a group of feminist intellectuals/warriors from the US is still extremely topical considering the pitiful state of certain TV shows and journalists’ debates today. Despite the heckling and the very 1970s theatrics, and a crude vulgarity that we wish was a thing of the past, the evening was a heated but civilised exchange of deeply-held opinions, and Chris Hegedus manages to capture a key moment for American direct cinema: a performance-documentary that was forgotten for forty years and has now become a key chapter in the war of the sexes in purest Hollywood tradition.

Federico Rossin
Cinema historian, independent programmer


Authors


Donn Alan Pennebaker

Donn Alan Pennebaker

Chris Hegedus

Chris Hegedus

Donn Alan Pennebaker was an American filmmaker, writer and painter born in 1925 in Evanston (Illinois). With his wife Chris Hegedus, he founded the company Pennebaker Hegedus Films, and was one of direct cinema’s pioneers. Famous for his musical documentaries, Pennebaker showed huge talent for filming concerts, getting involved on stage with his camera and managing to retranscribe the fever of a live gig combined with an undeniable sense of rhythm. He filmed Bob Dylan ("Don’t Look Back" in 1967), David Bowie, Depeche Mode, Jimi Hendrix ("Jimi Hendrix Live" in 1989) and John DeLorean ("DeLorean" in 1981). His films offer invaluable accounts of the history of rock; in 1969, he made “Sweet Toronto/Keep on Rockin”, shot with Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, John Lennon and Yoko Ono; in 1991, he made “Jerry Lee Lewis: The Story of Rock & Roll”, and in 1992, “The Music Tells You”.