Marjorie Keller (1950–1994)

She/Va (1973)
Objection (1974)
Misconception (1977)
Ancient Parts/Foreign Parts (1979)
Daughters of Chaos (1980)
The Fallen World (1983)
The Answering Furrow (1985)
Private Parts (1988)
Herein (1991)
Green Hill (no date)

Marjorie Keller (b. 1950; Yorktown, NY. d. 1994) was an influential filmmaker, author, activist, and scholar. After being expelled from Tufts University for participating in a protest, Keller finished her undergraduate coursework at the School of the Art Institute, Chicago. She later went on to pursue a master’s degree and then a doctorate in Cinema Studies at New York University. Keller taught filmmaking and film history at several institutions and was a professor the University of Rhode Island until her death in 1994.

Keller began exhibiting films in 1969, creating more than twenty-five films during her lifetime. Among her best-known works are “Misconception” (1977), “Daughters of Chaos” (1980) and “Herein” (1992). Like many filmmakers of the American avant-garde, as well as the earliest documentary filmmakers of the feminist conscious-raising movement of the 1960s, Keller used the raw material of her life for both the images and themes of her films. Misconception, her longest film, documents the birth of her niece, using the small format of home movies, jagged editing and synchronized sound to express the pain and joy of the event, and the chasm between experience and memory. Daughters of Chaos takes footage of a wedding, and jumps backwards and forwards in time (adolescent girls in the process of becoming women, and a woman recalling her girlhood) to reflect the mysteries of growing up.

In addition to her achievements as a filmmaker, Keller produced a substantial body of writings as well as notes towards a proposed study of women’s experimental cinema that would have charted a trajectory from pioneers like Maya Deren and Carolee Schneemann through to a younger generation represented by Peggy Ahwesh, Su Friedrich, and Leslie Thornton, among others. She was married to P. Adams Sitney (b. 1944; New Haven, CT), a historian of American avant-garde cinema.