West Hollywood Public Library, Council Chambers
CRITICAL STUDIES: A documentary essay film (55 minutes). Written and directed by Mady Schutzman (CalArts)
Dear Comrade documents the story of Llano del Rio (1914-18), the most important non-religious communitarian experiment in western American history. Llano is offered as a site to explore the struggles, courage, frustrations, fantasies, and Sisyphean efforts of innumerable idealists who have assumed comparable struggles in spite of tremendous odds. The story is told through archival footage, surreal re-enactments, interviews with ex-colonists, local residents and historians, and the meanderings of a silent nomad through the ruins of the Llano colony in the Mojave Desert. Through the intersection of stories, a seemingly traditional documentary morphs into a montage of parallel universes, political commentary, clownery, and a palpable desire—failings and disappointments notwithstanding—to give idealism and cooperation another try.
Mady Schutzman (MA Anthropology; Ph.D. Performance Studies) is a writer, editor, and theatre artist. She is a renowned practitioner and scholar of the techniques of social activist and theatre director Augusto Boal, and co-edited two books that critically investigate his work (Routledge 1994 and 2006). She has published essays and performance texts in several journals (including The Drama Review, Women and Performance, Theatre Topics, and the American Communication Journal) as well as in many critical anthologies. Her book The Real Thing: Performance, Hysteria, and Advertising (Wesleyan, 1999) is a feminist analysis of the iconography of the female body in popular advertising. Schutzman teaches at California Institute of the Arts, USC and Pacifica Graduate Institute. Her current research focuses on forms of political resistance that employ the ambiguous and paradoxical tactics of humor, clownery, and jokes.