This is the second of two screenings of short films put together by the folks who run the wonderful Play With Your Food lunchtime theater series that is presented in several Fairfield County locations.
The centerpiece of the evening will be a little known, longish short from 1976 — “Bernice Bobs Her Hair” — by the pioneering American independent filmmaker Joan Micklin Silver.
Silver won won great acclaim — and a best actress Oscar nomination for Carol Kane — with her 1975 debut film “Hester Street,” about Jewish immigrant life on the Lower East Side of Manhattan at the turn of the last century.
The following year, Silver showed she was just as sensitive to the lifestyles of well-heeled WASPs when she made a 45-minute short adapted from the F. Scott Fitzgerald story “Bernice Bobs Her Hair.”
Silver remains one of the great unheralded figures in both feminist and independent filmmaking in America.
After writing plays and educational films in New York City in the 1960s, Silver got a big break when she had her original screenplay “Limbo” bought by Universal in 1972.
Silver’s story of the wives of POWs was one of the first Hollywood films to deal with the war, but she clashed with director Mark Robson over the film’s female protagonist whom she had written as a “spunky, terrific gal.”
Refusing to do a rewrite, Silver was fired, and felt little comfort from the story and coscripting credit received on a movie she disowned.
Vowing never to find herself in that subservient position again, Silver and her husband Raphael raised the money for “Hester Street” so that she could make the film without any studio interference.
Although the writer-director had been told that a tale of Jewish immigrant life on the Lower East Side more than a half-century earlier was hopelessly uncommercial, the $400,000 production brought in $5 million in the United States and earned leading lady Carol Kane a best actress Oscar nomination.
Silver agreed to be a director for hire on “Bernice Bobs Her Hair,” but she made it in the same character-driven style as “Hester Street.”
Silver and her producer husband went the independent route once again in 1977 to make “Between the Lines,” a charming but poignant comedy about the first stirrings of disillusion among baby boom college graduates.
The film about a Boston underground newspaper that is bought out by a chain gave an early boost to the careers of Jeff Goldblum, John Heard, Jill Eikenberry and Lindsay Crouse.
The filmmaker moved on to studio films in the late 1970s and 1980s but retained her independent edge in such offbeat productions as the 1979 film version of the Ann Beattie novel “Chilly Scenes of Winter.”
She returned to a changed Lower East Side for the 1988 Warner Bros. romantic comedy “Crossing Delancey.”
The 76-year-old Silver has since worked in theater, television and radio and is long overdue for rediscovery as one of the major players in the American independent film movement.
For more information on “Short Cuts” go to http://jibproductions.org