Her Socialist Smile

Douglas E. Edwards Independent/Experimental Film/Video
Los Angeles Film Critics Association
Fascinating — a portrait of a woman who has little to lose and is willing to give her all for what she believes in.


Her Socialist Smile

Continuing his work of patient and insightful political filmmaking, director John Gianvito (PROFIT MOTIVE AND THE WHISPERING WIND) resurrects Helen Keller's radical views, which have been largely suppressed or sanitized over the years. In HER SOCIALIST SMILE, he researches how, beginning in her early 30s, the pioneer leftist thinker fervently and eloquently spoke out on behalf of many progressive causes, from the rights of women and the disabled, to international socialism and world peace. Gianvito combines on-screen text taken from her most memorable public appearances, recorded voiceover by politically engaged poet Carolyn Forché, and quiet images of nature, creating another unique blend of activism, historical analysis and poetry. Reminding us that leftist struggles are inseparable from disability advocacy, Keller's words remain remarkably pertinent today.

Official Selection, New York Film Festival
Official Selection, Viennale
Winner, Open Jury Prize, Linea D’Ombra Festival

“By any reckoning,
Her Socialist Smile is a beautifully executed portrait of a major figure in American intellectual history, someone whose rougher edges have been sanded away, both by the general homogenizing tendencies of time, and the inherent sexism, ableism, and anti-leftism that defines the dominant discourse in this country.” - Michael Sicinski, Mubi Notebook

"In being so text-heavy Gianvito’s film requires you to truly engage with her words and her mind. She’s been whitewashed by a conservative establishment for 100 years, and
Her Socialist Smile is an electrifying corrective, a film that makes us work to understand what we miss when Keller’s legacy is reduced to her learning to read braille." - Scout Tafoya, Rogerebert.com

"The film is fascinating — a portrait of a woman who has little to lose and is willing to give her all for what she believes in — and an important addition to Keller’s legacy." - Alissa Wilkinson, Vox
Not Rated
Documentary, Women and Film, Politics
John Gianvito
Noam Chomsky, Carolyn Forché
Winner, Douglas E. Edwards Independent/Experimental Film/Video, Los Angeles Film Critics Association
Glenn Kenny, New York Times

Helen Keller is one of the closest things the United States has to a secular saint. Born in 1880, she lost her hearing and her sight before she was 2 years old. With the help of her equally legendary teacher, Anne Sullivan, she learned to read, to write, to sign and to speak. Her writing was ...

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