My Failure to Assimilate is an essay and a documentary examining the failure of society to accept feminist ideologies to a point where feminism could have an appreciable, lasting or functional effect on the lives of ordinary women as a class. This video represents a deeply personal expression of liberation as well as frustration, and draws conclusions about feminism, love, and sex from personal experience.
Named Best Documentary at the Turin Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, 1996.
Inspired by psychologist Alice Miller's book The Drama of the Gifted Child: The Search for the True Self. Miller's book is an analysis of the harmful effects of parental expectations for achievement upon their children.
While not an adaptation of the book, my video is an essay on the transference phenomenon, narcissism and the desire for a sense of self-worth based on the needs of peers and the standards of others: friends and lovers, family, academia, the art world.
The themes of sexual love, uncertainty, pedagogy, self-help, power within personal relationships, separation, and reunion all seek resolution.
1989, 36:10 mins
Starring Shelley Cook as Yoko Ono, Susie Bright as John Lennon, Jill Garellick as Paul McCartney, Kate Aragon as Ringo Star, Azian Nurudin as George Harrison; go-go dancers are Didi Dunphy and Rick Groel
Costumes by Margo Adams
Grapefruit is a semi-scripted re-enactment of the story of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, created by a fusion of narrative and experimental methodologies. The storytelling is non-linear and fractured, and includes visual asides and performed footnotes; the events depicted are re-visited rather than recreated. The title of the piece and some of the performances within it are based on Yoko Ono's 1964 Fluxus anthology, Grapefruit.
In Grapefruit, the cast were asked to play specific episodes in the lives of The Beatles and Yoko Ono at the end of the 1960s, episodes that originally came to be known widely through pop literature, the tabloid press, and television as the band was breaking up. The story was therefore already established and needed no explanation, nor was any offered as part of the direction. The performers enacted the scenes, dialogues and characterizations based on their own memories and impressions of events. A new narrative emerges from the blend of their reconstructions. There is no correct or incorrect reconstruction, only a mapping of contemporary consciousness onto pop cultural history.
"In Cecilia Dougherty's Grapefruit, based obliquely on Yoko Ono's book, often ludicrous moments from John and Yoko's charmed history are reconstructed. An all-female cast (aside from one male go-go dancer) makes this a gentle mockery lingering on the banal squabbles of the Fab Four and John and Yoko's deliberate denuding of their private lives. The ersatz philosophy comically espoused in Grapefruit casts doubt on the past's ability to adequately inform the present. For Dougherty, this glance backwards doesn't seek reassurance or queasy remembrance. It's an experiment in crippled nostalgia."
-- Steve Seid, Pacific Fillm Archive
1993, 53:00 mins., co-director Leslie Singer
A re-take on the 1987 Stephen Frears film, Prick Up Your Ears, based on the diaries of British playwright Joe Orton. Orton's lover and eventual murderer, Kenneth Halliwell, has been dispensed with and replaced by a second Joe. Is s/he a sister? lover? alter-ego? or wo/man in the mirror? We play on ideas of psychological stereotypes of homosexuals and the exploitation of the homosexual entertainer in closeted cultures. We try to liberate Joe Orton, and ourselves, from such silliness.