Nellie Killian and Jenny Slate Unpack the Politics of “Listening to Women”

Inside Criterion / On the Channel — May 22, 2020

In the wake of the #MeToo movement, “listen to women” became an omnipresent phrase, one that film programmer Nellie Killian found revealing. Giving space for women to talk about their lives has often been framed as a burden or obligation, when it should really be seen as a pleasure, she thought. After all, women have much more to offer than spectacles of trauma. The tradition of independent feminist filmmaking also stands as a testament to the fact that women have always shared their experiences with each other.

With this history in mind, Killian opened her expansive series Tell Me: Women Filmmakers, Women’s Stories at New York’s Metrograph Theater in 2018, bringing to light a stylistically varied array of work by female filmmakers from the 1970s to the new millennium. Featuring films by luminaries such as Chantal Akerman, Julia Reichert, and Chick Strand, as well as lesser-known gems by other vital artists, the series comes to the Criterion Channel in an updated incarnation, along with two new supplemental programs. One of them is a conversation between Killian and the actor Jenny Slate, who met each other as college roommates and have been friends ever since. In the above clip, they dive into the nuances of the series’s political context and the artistic richness of some of its highlights.