The Gentileschi Touch

The Italian Baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi has long been held high in the estimation of modern female artists; imagined today as a feminist way before her time (she painted in the first half of the seventeenth century), we actually don't know that much about who she really was. But there are vestiges of documentation showing that Artemisia was one tough broad, beginning with her paintings themselves, bold depictions of women in Bible stories and myths. One of her works, "Judith Beheading Holofernes," says it all: Judith, calmly wielding the knife in a feminist act of gore, might as well be cutting up a chicken. Famously a rape victim who testified against the perpetrator in a recorded court case, the artist's modern reputation is also based on her visceral performance in the courtroom. A woman who stood up that way to men in a time when it was unheard of is bound to remain a role model through history.

That's the basis for a woman like that, an unorthodox new biopic from independent filmmaker Ellen Weissbrod (Listen Up: The Lives of Quincy Jones), wherein Artemisia crosses paths with Weissbrod in the tangled web of a time-traveling narrative. "In her art-making, with her storytelling, Artemisia has left a trail of breadcrumbs to each of us to find our own way to become 'a woman like that,'" Weissbrod says in her filmmaker's statement.

Weissbrod will be on the scene to answer questions about where those crumbs might lead when the film screens tonight at 7 p.m. at the Denver Art Museum, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway, courtesy of the DAM's Friends of Painting and Sculpture support group. Admission is free, but seating is on a first-come, first-served basis; call 720-913-0130.
Wed., Feb. 15, 7 p.m., 2012

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Susan Froyd started writing for Westword as the "Thrills" editor in 1992 and never quite left the fold. These days she still freelances for the paper in addition to walking her dogs, enjoying cheap ethnic food and reading voraciously. Sometimes she writes poetry.
Contact: Susan Froyd