Shameless, or Doris Wishman’s cinema in retrospective

“When I die, I’ll make films in hell!”, said the legendary north-american director whose work will be shown this year at IndieLisboa. Doris Wishman (1912-2002) spent half a century at the forefront of bad reputation, making explicit with her cinema what was not allowed in the image. Self-taught, Wishman built her career alone, producing, directing and editing most of the films that make up her filmography, which will be presented together with Cinemateca Portuguesa in the next edition of the festival.

She debuted in 1960 and became a pioneer of female sexploitation in film throughout the decade. She began producing the so-called nudie cuties, of which Nude on the Moon (1961) stands out, a science fantasy feature film that takes two astronauts to discover a colony of nudists on the moon. But the public’s growing lack of interest in the style made the filmmaker change the direction of her cinema to follow the path of the roughies, a popular subgenre at the time that combined desire and violence, and which in Wishman ended up denouncing a look at what it means be a woman. With the frenetic Bad Girls Go to Hell (1965), her quintessential masterpiece, hostility to women and perverted temptations became recurring themes. Audaciously erotic and proto-feminist, her list of best-known films also includes the titles Deadly Weapons (1974), Double Agent 73 (1974), or the semi-documentary Let Me Die a Woman (1978).

She walked away from the industry in the 1980s and artist Peggy Ahwesh found her in Miami, in 1994, working in a sex shop. A “woman obsessed with the themes of female social status and freedom, the contemporary drama of fear, mistrust and the challenge between the sexes”. This is how Ahwesh describes the cinema of what is to date the female filmmaker with the most films made, in her zine The Films of Doris Wishman, produced for the first time in 1995. Peggy Ahwesh will be in Lisbon during the festival, to accompany the retrospective that this year shows cinema for adults only.

In 2022, we will be once again occupying the cinemas at Cinema São Jorge, Culturgest, Cinema Ideal and Cinemateca Portuguesa, between the 28th of April and the 8th of May.

Here is the complete list of Doris Wishman’s films that IndieLisboa will present:

Diary of a Nudist (1961)
Nude on the Moon (1961)
Bad Girls Go to Hell (1965)
Another Day Another Man (1966)
Indecent Desires (1968)
Keyholes Are for Peeping (1972)
Double Agent 73 (1974)
Deadly Weapons (1975)
The Immoral Three (1975)
Let Me Die a Woman (1978)