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L.A. Weekly Movie Pick: “Liberating Hollywood” Celebrates Female Filmmakers

We are riding a new wave of appreciation for the contributions of female directors to the male-dominated Hollywood canon. Last year brought “Pioneers: First Women Filmmakers,” the revelatory Blu-ray set from Kino Lorber, which meticulously restored several notable films by early filmmakers such as Alice Guy-Blaché and Lois Weber. Now, a new series at UCLA’s Billy Wilder Theater honors the women who, riding the crest of second-wave feminism, made their mark on 1970s cinema. Titled “Liberating Hollywood,” the eight-week retrospective is timed with the release of a book called Liberating Hollywood: Women Directors and the Feminist Reform of 1970s American Cinema, by Maya Montañez Smukler, whose scholarly work in the field grew out of her Ph.D. studies at UCLA. Smukler co-curated the series with KJ Relth; it kicks off on Friday, Jan. 25, and runs through Feb. 23.

Friday, Jan. 25

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First on the docket is Old Boyfriends, the directorial debut of Joan Tewkesbury, which follows a psychiatrist (Talia Shire) on a journey into her romantic past. This will be followed by Thieves Like Us, the Tewkesbury-penned, Robert Altman–helmed bank robber saga from 1974. Smukler will sign copies of her new book, introduce the screenings, and appear in conversation with Tewkesbury between shows. UCLA’s Billy Wilder Theater, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood; Fri., Jan. 25, 7:30 p.m.; $10. (310) 206-8013, cinema.ucla.edu.

Saturday, Jan. 26

The second evening of “Liberating Hollywood” begins with Bury Me an Angel, a 1971 biker revenge drama with a feminine twist. The film features Dixie Peabody, a towering blonde model whose only starring role was in this film. Writer-director Barbara Peeters, who labored in the vineyards of Roger Corman’s New World Pictures, refrains from lascivious objectification of her female subjects while still serving up plenty of campy, low-budget action.

Summer School Teachers follows, and it’s a randy tale of three pulchritudinous young women who travel from Iowa to Los Angeles in search of a summer school gig and some summer fun. Peeters will appear in discussion with Smukler, who will once again be on hand to sign books prior to the screenings. UCLA’s Billy Wilder Theater, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood; Sat., Jan. 26, 7:30 p.m.; $10. (310) 206-8013, cinema.ucla.edu.