Her Socialist Smile

Her Socialist Smile

DIRECTED BY: John Gianvito COUNTRY: United States YEAR: 2020 SPOKEN LANGUAGE(S): English SUBTITLES: German RUNNING TIME: 93 min

SECTION: International Forum 202


An experimental documentary essay on the political imagination of iconic humanitarian, author, and advocate for the blind Helen Keller. World famous by the age of 8 for having learned how to read and communicate through the finger alphabet, indelibly dramatized in William Gibson’s play The Miracle Worker, Helen Keller (1880-1968) remained for the course of her 87 years the most revered blind-deaf woman on the planet. Largely omitted or minimized within the voluminous literature her life generated however was the fact that Keller had become, by time she reached her thirties, a committed believer in the principles of Socialism. The product of years of research, Her Socialist Smile resurrects the radical Keller, serving as a rousing reminder that Keller’s undaunted activism for labor rights, pacifism, and women’s suffrage was philosophically inseparable from her battles for the rights of the disabled.

John Gianvito is a director, teacher, and curator, based in Boston, Massachusetts. His films have screened widely and have included the Toronto International Film Festival, Rotterdam International Film Festival, Locarno Film Festival, London Film Festival, Museum of Modern Art (NY), Centre Pompidou, Cinematheque Francaise, the Tate Modern, and Pacific Film Archives. Retrospectives of his work have been presented at the Viennale Film Festival, I Mille Occhi Festival, Cinéma du Réel, and Seoul Independent Documentary Festival.

The Flower of Pain (1983), Address Unknown (1985), August 6th (1988), What nobody saw (1990), The Mad Songs of Fernanda Hussein (2001), Puncture Wounds (2002), Profit Motive and the Whispering Wind (2007), Vapor Trail (2010), Far from Afghanistan (2012), Wake (Subic) (2015), Her Socialist Smile (2020)

SCRIPT: John Gianvito, Helen Keller PRODUCER: John Gianvito CINEMATOGRAPHY: John Gianvito, Shaun Clarke EDITOR: John Gianvito, Eric P. Gulliver SCORE: Martin Marks, Gaetano Donizetti, Pankrti CAST: Carolyn Forché, David Levering Lewis

PRODUCTION COMPANY: Traveling Light (john.gianvito@verizon.net) WORLD SALES: John Gianvito