Vovó said the First People were formed by God like dough and placed into an oven. Some, He removed early, and these were pale and nearly raw. Others, like my grandmother and I, had more time in the fire.
I imagined God’s oven as I roasted in a rental car, leaving the city. There were state parks and roadside stands selling berries; and beyond, vast fields with metal wings of irrigation pivots spread across their lengths. Under the wings were shadows shaped like people . . .
The first part of the idea came to Lee at the Army surplus store. He was looking for a new winter hat when he spotted a display of gloves on an end cap near the back wall. They were three-ply canvas mesh, lightweight and camel colored, stripped of all the knuckle padding and ribbed do-dads so popular among work gloves of the current era. The tag billed them as “research gloves” from the US Marines, but they appeared almost as the distant offspring of the pair he’d been issued by the Navy back in 1973.
Yes, he thought, lifting them from . . .
“I thought all children had imaginary friends,” Dr. Ditmus said. Ida, upon being queried a moment earlier, had admitted that she’d not had one when young.
“Do you mean all American children?” Ida asked. Her Chinese name was Xiangquan, but upon arriving in America seventeen years before, she’d quickly discovered that it was nearly impossible for English speakers. So she’d renamed herself, and not faced the need to explain the decision until working for Dr. Ditmus. Why Ida, Dr. Ditmus had . . .
Claudia Weill’s film has been with me for a long time. Back in the day, I was as excited by it somehow being made by a person named Claudia as by what was happening on the screen. I can’t recall when I first saw it, it’s just always been there to think about, use in a classroom, turn a friend on to, and, more recently, rewatch on Criterion whenever the spirit moves me . . .
I had received a grant from the American Film Institute for $10,000 to make a short. Originally, it was going to be a documentary about growing up Jewish and female, but I had just completed a feature-length doc, The Other Half of the Sky: A China Memoir, about Shirley MacLaine and me traveling to China with the first delegation of American women in 1973. And after I’d spent months wrestling random footage into a credible story for that project, the prospect of doing . . .
Inspired by Katherine Mansfield’s story “Bliss,” Claudia Weill’s film Girlfriends—with performances by Melanie Mayron, Anita Skinner, Eli Wallach, Christopher Guest, and Bob Balaban—premiered at the 1978 International Film Festival Rotterdam, screened at the Cannes Film Festival, and opened in New York City later that year. Since then, it’s inspired generations of filmmakers. In an interview in 1980, Stanley Kubrick praised it as “a wonderful film. It seemed to make no compromise to the inner truth of . . .