Q&A with Barbara Mennel, author of SU FRIEDRICH

Barbara Mennel, author of Su Friedrich, answers questions on her new book.

Q: Why did you decide to write this book?  

I have long admired Su Friedrich’s films with vivid memories of seeing them in different places where I lived: from Columbus, Ohio and Ithaca, New York to Gainesville, Florida. I grew up alongside her films.  Su Friedrich often accompanied her film screenings, answering questions, providing background information, and offering unique perspectives that deepened the experiences of collective viewing. When I realized that there was no single book dedicated to her work, I decided to write it. 

Q: What is the most interesting discovery you made while researching and writing your book?  

Su Friedrich is a unique filmmaker who has developed her own distinct and recognizable film style. However, her oeuvre and biography also belong to the generation of second-wave feminists. History has not yet acknowledged their profound impact on culture and politics in the late twentieth century.  

Q: What myths do you hope your book will dispel or what do you hope your book will help readers unlearn? 

I hope that readers who are not familiar with experimental cinema will become interested and watch her films. My discussion hopefully dispels the myth that experimental films are only of interest to initiated experts, aficionados, or cinephiles. 

Q: Which part of the publishing process did you find the most interesting?  

I enjoyed the close connection to the filmmaker with the interview that is part of the series Contemporary Film Directors, in which this book is published. I spent a day with Su Friedrich in an intensive conversation. I also loved the final stage of selecting the cover image, which comes from one of her films. I really like the book’s cover. 

Q: What is your advice to scholars/authors who want to take on a similar project? 

Don’t lose sight of the joy of writing!  

Q: What do you like to read/watch/or listen to for fun? 

I watch and read everything for fun except for fantasy and science fiction, which puts me at odds with the current generation of students whom I teach. 

Barbara Mennel is the Rothman Chair and Director of the Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere at the University of Florida. Mennel’s books include Women at Work in Twenty-First Century European Cinema and Queer Cinema: Schoolgirls, Vampires, and Gay Cowboys.

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