Poetry News

Tonight's the Night for Poet Sandra Hochman's Lost 1973 Documentary Year of the Woman!

By Harriet Staff

Grapevine was slow on this one, so apologies--but if you've not yet plans for tonight, and you live in New York, head to Spectacle Theater! It's the final screening for poet Sandra Hochman's Year of the Woman, the long-lost 1973 documentary about the women's movement, featuring Warren Beatty and Shirley MacLaine. It "caused a sensation," wrote The Guardian.

The historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr told Hochman it was the greatest documentary he had ever seen and wrote that: "Hochman and [beloved Washington Post political humorist Art] Buchwald are the best new comedy team since Hepburn and Tracy." It sold out each night and women queued round the block to see it. And then it disappeared. It was bought in 1974 for $65,000 by a wealthy 23-year-old Filipino woman and her two brothers, who were convinced it was a masterpiece. Yet no film company would touch it. Before Sarasota, it had appeared only once since, at a million-dollar gala-night screening at the Lincoln Centre in New York in 1985. Today it is not on video or DVD and few people have even heard of it.

No more true! Trailer below. And more on the film:

For this personal, experimental documentary about women's liberation movement in 1972, poet Sandra Hochman brought recent NYU grads Claudia Weill, Martha Coolidge, and Barbara Kopple to thenational Democratic convention in Florida. The largely ignored bid of Shirley Chisolm for vice-president by all the male bastion is the background to challenges and enervations staged by these women, including recoriding the reaction a big breasted stripper's stroll through the boys club convention hall. ("But if a man walked into a convention with a huge cock, would women rush up and ask, 'Who is he, where is he, what's his name?'" asks Hochman.)

Utilizing poetry, animation, performance, and humor, the film also features appearances by Gloria Steinem, Flo Jackson, Warren Beatty and Norman Mailer. It is a fascinating and important part of documentary and feminist film history that has only ever screened a few times before disappearing. Spectacle is proud to be part of this film's rediscovery.

YEAR OF THE WOMAN (Sandra Hochman, 1973) from Spectacle Theater on Vimeo.

Originally Published: December 10th, 2012