#M(ichigan)M(ovie)H(istory): On this day, February 3, 1958 director Lizzie Borden was born

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Today is the birthday of Detroit born film director Lizzie Borden.  Born Linda Elizabeth Borden, February 3, 1958,   she decided at the age of eleven to take the name of the accused 1890s Massachusetts double murderer Lizzie Borden.


As a feminist filmmaker, Borden’s career started when she majored in art at Wellesley College in Massachusetts before moving to New York.  After attending a retrospective of the films of Jean-Luc Godard, she was inspired to experiment with cinema and favored a “naive” approach to film production.   Her films, which has been described as a “gritty, pseudo-documentary style, which pieces together a “disjunctive collage of women’s individual and collective work”   investigated race, class, power, capitalism, and the power money bestows—all from a female perspective ] Borden’s

Her film Born in Flames, shot and edited over the course of five years had a budget of $40,000. Set in New York, it explored the role media plays in culture. What began as a project about white feminist responses to an oppressive government evolved into a story about women of color, lesbians, and white women of various classes mobilizing into collective action, and concerned the racial, class, and political conflicts in a future United States socialist democracy.

Born in Flames premiered at the Berlin Film Festival and won several awards. It was named one of “The Most Important 50 Independent Films” by Filmmaker magazine and has been the subject of extensive feminist analysis, including that of Teresa de Laurette.

Borden’s second film, Working Girls, which she wrote, directed, and produced, depicted the lives of sex workers,  inspired by some of the women who participated in the making of Born in Flames, who coincidentally supported themselves through prostitution.  premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in the Director’s Fortnight, won Best Feature at the Sundance Film Festival and was sold and then distributed by Miramax Films .

Miramax then gave Borden a budget of $6 million and a script for Love Crimes, her first Hollywood film feature.  Love Crimes was subjected to much studio interference and it fell victim to Hollywood’s more politically correct protocols regarding sex in the 1990s, and as a result it lacked the taboo representations she was once able to project on screen.  When released it ran for three weeks in theaters, but quickly tanked.  It was yanked.

In 1995.  she cast future famous actor Bryan Cranston film Erotique.  Since the mid-2000s Borden has been working as a script doctor in Los Angeles, writing scripts for other directors;  she worked in television on some pilots for Fox Television, wrote a play about singer Nina Simone and is continuing to solicit financing for her independent projects.

Lizzie Borden is…well,  it’s not polite to talk about a woman’s ago.   Do the math.  Wishing director Lizzie Borden a happy birthday,  this is #M(ichigan)M(ovie)History, for February 3.

For more on director Lizzie Borden
For her filmography


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