Labors of Love

Working along the fuming slopes of an active volcano (ixcanul in the Mayan language of Kaqchikel) and lush coffee forests of indigenous Guatemala, Maria lives in a land of ashes and hard labor. And fairy godmothers are few and far between. For in the forests along the volcano, the American Dream is itself a kind of fairy tale. And Cinderella stories—the kind that whisk you out of the hearth and into the hands of marriage—are as common as smoke and fire. Told through the lens of docu-fabulism, the film provides a challenging meditation on the fate of feminist politics—and fantasies—to come. This is the first film made in Kaqchikel.

Short film: Sequin Raze (2013, directed by Sarah Gertrude Shapiro)

Free and open to the public.

Part of the 20172018 Schlesinger Library Film Series

Fairy tales are frequently described as magic mirrors for our unseen selves. In them, we find reflected our own waking-life dreams—our happy endings and hopes of fairy tale romance—and our most irresistible nightmares. What does feminist discourse see in its own magic mirrors? This seven-part film series will explore the illuminating, alluring, provocative, polarizing, and playful pas de deux that is currently unfolding between feminism and the fairy tale against the stage of contemporary cinema. Each evening’s feature includes a film short and brief introduction to the programming.

Feminism and the Fairy Tale is curated by Katie Kohn, a doctoral candidate in film and visual studies in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University.