AMHERST, Mass. - A classic film of the feminist movement directed by University of Massachusetts School of Education professor Liane Brandon has been nominated for inclusion in the National Film Registry. It will be shown at a special screening in Washington, D.C., May 13, and Brandon has been invited to introduce it.
The film, "Betty Tells Her Story," was made in 1972 and features the subject recalling the time she needed "the perfect dress" for a special occasion. "She describes how she found just the right one, spent more than she could afford for it, felt absolutely transformed and … never got to wear it," says Brandon. "Then Betty is asked to tell the story again. Although she told it the first time as an amusing anecdote, by the second time her cheerful facade has fallen away and she allows herself to remember her emotional distress. The difference between the two stories is haunting."
The film was nominated for inclusion in the National Film Registry in April. The registry was established by the National Film Preservation Act of 1988, which called upon the Librarian of Congress and the National Film Preservation Board to annually select up to 25 "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" American films to be preserved. Among the approximately 250 previous features and short subjects chosen for the registry over the last decade are "Citizen Kane," "It’s a Wonderful Life," and "Casablanca."
Nominated films this year will be screened throughout the spring at the Mary Pickford Theater in Washington, D.C. Audiences will cast their votes, and the National Film Preservation Board will advise the Librarian of Congress on their selected films. The final selection will take place in October or November. "Betty Tells Her Story" has already received numerous festival awards, according to Brandon. It has been featured at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and the Chicago Art Institute, and was nationally broadcast on The Learning Channel. It is also widely used in colleges and universities in the areas of film study, communication, women’s studies, psychology, sociology, and education, she says.
Brandon is one of the first independent women filmmakers, starting her work in the late 1960s. Since then, her films have won numerous national and international awards. She is a co-founder of New Day Films, a cooperative that pioneered the distribution of films and videos about women, and which distributes "Betty Tells Her Story." A professor in the School of Education at UMass, she is also the co-director of UMass Educational Television. Before becoming a filmmaker, she worked as a ski instructor, file clerk, high school teacher, and professional stunt woman.