The Suburban Trilogy

(2011, Directed by Abigail Child RI '06)
The Suburban Trilogy

With speaker Abigail Child ’68, RI ’05

Abigail Child is a 1968 alumna of Radcliffe College and was a Radcliffe Institute Fellow in 2005–2006. She is currently senior faculty in film and animation at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The Suburban Trilogy brings together three of Child’s short experimental films focusing on “girlhood and the immigrant dream.”

The Future is Behind You (20 min.)
The Future is Behind You creates a fictional story composed from an anonymous family archive from 1930s Europe, reconstructed to emphasize gender acculturation in two sisters who play, race, fight, kiss, and grow up together under a shadow of oncoming history. At once biography and fiction, history and psychology, the film excavates gestures to explore the speculative seduction of narrative; it seeks a bridge between private and public histories.

Cake and Steak (21 min.)
A comedy of manners and movement, the film excavates “girl training” in the legacy of home movies and postwar American suburban culture and is conceived for both loop installation and single-screen projection.

Surf and Turf (32 min.)
This film examines contemporary ambiguities of Syrian Orthodox Jews who have built extensive synagogues, restaurants, and schools on the Jersey shore, profoundly changing the local culture, continuing a tradition of immigration, if not exactly assimilation. The look is secular and the lifestyle capitalist and religious. The topic—that of the “unmelted pot” of America’s small towns combined with a portrait of wealthy orthodox religious sectarians—is a compelling one. What does it mean to have class in America? What does it mean to be Jewish?

Part of the 2014–2015 film series at the Schlesinger Library. Admission is free and open to the public.