Town Bloody Hall – The Town Hall (April 30, 1971)

Town Bloody Hall is a 1979 documentary film of a panel debate between feminist advocates and activist Norman Mailer. Filmed on April 30, 1971, in The Town Hall in New York City. Town Bloody Hall features a panel of feminist advocates for the women’s liberation movement and Norman Mailer, author of The Prisoner of Sex (1971). Chris Hegedus and D. A. Pennebaker produced the film, which stars Jacqueline Ceballos, Germaine Greer, Jill Johnston, Diana Trilling, and Norman Mailer. The footage of the panel was recorded and released as a documentary in 1979. Produced by Shirley Broughton, the event was originally filmed by Pennebaker. The footage was then filed and rendered unusable. Hegedus met Pennebaker a few years later, and the two edited the final version of the film for its release in 1979. Pennebaker described his filming style as one that exists without labels, in order to let the viewer come to a conclusion about the material, which inspired the nature of the Town Bloody Hall documentary. The recording of the debate was intended to ensure the unbiased documentation, allowing it to become a concrete moment in feminist history. The film begins making a statement on the issues of class and accessibility within women’s liberation, with hecklers outside the building shouting that Germaine Greer ‘betrays the poor’. Inside the theatre, Norman Mailer begins the panel discussion, and introduces his own work ‘The Prisoner of Sex’ in Harper’s Bazaar magazine. He says that the women’s liberation movement is against his work which was advertised as ‘the piece that’s gonna have women’s lib, ah, picketing the newsstands’ yet believes the women’s liberation movement is ‘the most important single intellectual event of the last few years’. Jacqueline Caballos, the president of the New York Chapter of the National Organization for Women, believes that Norman Mailer represents the establishment, and therefore her participation has allowed her to work within the system. She admits to her privilege as a middle-class woman and mentions the perception of the National Organization for Women as ‘square’. She then clarifies that the main agenda of the organization is solely women’s liberation, and they do not devote time to fighting for the peace movement, civil rights movement, or the changing environment. The organization believes that women’s liberation is the center of everything, and only upon that will it be focused. …”
Criterion (Video)
YouTube: Town Bloody Hall (C.Hegedus, D.A.Pennebaker -1971) 1:22:04

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