|Greta Schiller’s award-winning documentary explores the extraordinary women, many of whom were lesbian or bisexual, in the Left Bank’s thriving cultural scene between the wars. Through Schiller’s exceptional filmmaking, and Andrea Weiss’s brilliant research and screenwriting, we come to know the living, complex women who so often stand only as cultural icons: novelists Gertrude Stein, Djuna Barnes, Colette, Natalie Barney, painter Marie Laurencin, photographer Gisele Freund, publishers/booksellers Sylvia Beach and Adrienne Monnier, New Yorker journalist Janet Flanner, singer Josephine Baker, and many others. Schiller also looks at their connection to the male artists of the time, including Picasso (whom Stein discovered and promoted), Joyce (who drove Beach to bankruptcy when she published his then-illegally obscene masterpiece, Ulysses), and Hemingway (who began as Stein and Toklas’s errand boy; we see – and hear – his stylistic debt to Stein).
In a mere 75 minutes, with a spellbinding use of archival photos and film footage, Schiller manages to recreate the mood and flavor of this unique community of women who came to The City of Lights (and Love) from the U.S., England, and every corner of the world. This inspired, and moving, film brings to life their passion both for the arts and for a freedom in their personal lives which still resonates today.