When director Robin Hunzinger’s grandmother Emma died, she left behind a cache of letters from a woman named Marcelle. From these letters spins this tale of a passionate but thwarted relationship in 1920s France, as separation and sickness come between the secret young lovers. In this strikingly artistic documentary, an actor’s urgently performed voiceover, ghostly archival images, and a contemporary soundtrack combine to reflect, within this nearly century-old romance, an erotic vibrancy that is eternal.
The tale begins as an idyllic summer romance, but, forced to live apart, Marcelle’s letters reveal how her attachment to Emma quickly becomes an intense touchstone. Afflicted with tuberculosis, Marcelle is confined to a sanitarium, where she becomes ringleader and self-appointed seducer of a pack of similarly ailing young women—the cheekily nicknamed “blood-spitters gang”—while her ardor for absent Emma never diminishes. Director Hunzinger deftly deploys evocative period imagery to conjure the worlds and poignant stories of these rebellious young women, bringing their passions and pains to vivid new life.
This film will be screened at SFMOMA Phyllis Wattis Theater 18, 2022 6:00 PM — 7:18 PM
Streaming online JUNE 24, 2022 12:01 AM — JUNE 30, 2022 11:59 PM