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// Films // Breaking the Frame

Breaking the Frame

Marielle Nitoslawska / Canada / 2012 / 100 ' / English


Monique Dartonne
Marielle Nitoslawska
Marielle Nitoslawska
Catherine Van der Donkt
Benoît Dame
James Tenney
Possible Movements
Starring: Carolee Schneemann

Awards & Festivals

Official Selection: Telluride Film Festival, 2012
Official Selection: BFI London Film Festival, 2012
Official Selection: Festival du nouveau cinéma, 2012
Official Selection: Glasgow International Film festival, 2013
Official Selection: Views from the Avant-Garde, New York Film Festival, 2013
Official Selection: Cleveland International Film festival, 2013
Official Selection: American Film festival, Poland, 2013

Upcoming Screenings

Stay tuned for upcoming screenings!

previously screened

In Production

A portrait of painter, filmmaker, poet and performance artist Carolee Schneemann who challenges assumptions of feminism, gender, sexuality, and identity


BREAKING THE FRAME is a feature–length documentary portrait of the New York artist Carolee Schneemann by Canadian filmmaker Marielle Nitoslawska. A pioneer of performance and body art as well as avant-garde cinema, Schneemann has been breaking the frames of the art world for five decades, in a variety of mediums, challenging assumptions of feminism, gender, sexuality, and identity.

Utilizing a rich variety of film and hi-definition formats, Breaking The Frame can be described as a kinetic, hyper-cinematic intervention, a critical meditation on the relation of art to the physical, domestic and conceptual aspects of daily life and on the attributes of memory. It uses Schneemann’s autobiographical materials to narrate the historic upheaval within Western art in post-war America.

The film captures Schneemann in her own words, images and reflections, at work, at home, in the studio, and interweaves extensive film excerpts from her groundbreaking film work in both super 8 and 16mm such as Fuses (1967); Kitch’s Last Meal (1973-76), with documentation of performances including Meat Joy (1964); Interior Scroll (1975) and more recent museum commissions and exhibitions.

By highlighting the sheen of photographic prints, the fibres of diary pages and the gloss of wet paint, Breaking The Frame provides a textured mise-en-scene that resonates with Schneemann’s corporeal focus. The visual composition is complemented by a soundtrack featuring the music of composer James Tenney. Tenney was Schneemann’s companion and collaborator for many years, and the two remained close friends until his death in 2006.

Ultimately, Breaking The Frame presents the artist’s recollections and meditations on life/work in order to pose the questions what is space, where is form, and how do we look? The insistently roving camera breaks open the frame(work) of art, revealing the magnificent mess of interiority and the interconnected holism of the creative process. By eschewing standard chronologies, Nitoslawska explores the way filmic strategies complicate the traditional understanding of memory as an act of narration and investigates the complexities of the use of visual images as a form of historical testimony.


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