Fronza Woods

This event has now ended. You can watch the filmed interview with Fronza Woods here.


Two essential short films from Fronza Woods + a brand new filmed interview with Fronza Woods by director Nadia Latif.

Fronza Woods’ film heroines are funny, clever, wise and instantly memorable. In the late 1970s, whilst living in New York, Woods made two brilliant short films, Killing Time and Fannie’s Film. Woods’ blend of portraiture and interviews draws us into the inner lives, dreams and desires of two New York women, one working class and one middle class. As a result, her aesthetically dazzling films, continue to daringly and beautifully challenge mainstream media’s ongoing stereotyping of women of colour.

Killing Time (1979, US, 10mins) is an offbeat, wryly comical look at the dilemma faced by a young woman (played by Woods herself, under the snappy name Sage Brush) who wants to kill herself but her quest is thwarted when her tight white jeans split and she decides to call it a day.

Fannie’s Film (1982, US, 15mins) portraits the day to day life of Fannie, a 65-year-old cleaning woman who works in a professional dancer’s exercise studio.  Whilst performing her job, Fannie tells us in voiceover about her life, hopes, goals and feelings.

With recent screenings at BAM (2017), the Institut Jean-Vigo’s Festival de Cinema (2019), the Festival des 3 Continents (2019) and Courtisane Film Festival (2019), we are delighted to be presenting Woods’ films on The Cinema of Ideas together with a special filmed interview with Woods conducted in her home in the southwest of France in September 2021.

Woods was part of the mediamaking activist movement that first gave centrality to the voices and experiences of African American women during the late 1970s and early 1980s (others include Kathleen Collins, Julie Dash, Ayoka Chenzira).

I like films about real people. I am inspired by almost everything but especially by struggle. I am interested in people who take on a challenge, no matter how great or small, and come to terms with it. What inspires me are people who don’t sit on life’s rump but have the courage, energy, and audacity not only to grab it by the horns, but to steer it as well.

— Fronza Woods

About Fronza Woods

Born (20 October 1943), raised and educated in Detroit, Michigan, (BA in Russian (language) and Mass Communications) from Wayne State University, Detroit) Fronza has spent most of her active professional years in Manhattan and is now maturing, as creatively as possible, in the southwest of France.

Her first professional experience was as a copywriter in advertising, followed by a two-year stint at ABC News, NYC, as a production assistant in the documentary unit. She also taught Pilates for a number of years at the Robert Fitzgerald Studio in Manhattan, before coming to the realization that there was a latent filmmaker inside her, desperate to get out.

Fronza got her basic filmmaking training at the Womens Interart Center, New York, under the tutelage of Ellen Hovde and Muffie Meyer, both established editor/directors. It was they who oversaw and supervised the making of both Killing Time and Fannie’s Film.

Later, she enrolled in the graduate programme at NYU, but this was short-lived, as it was prohibitively expensive for someone on a modest income.

A writer-filmmaker in her own right, she has worked as camerawoman on numerous independent films; was assistant sound engineer on John Sayles’ feature The Brother from Another Planet; has been a script reader for HBO; was for a brief period secretary/assistant to screenwriter Waldo Salt, and has taught basic filmmaking at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, where she also created and curated an outreach film program for the city’s black community.

Her films were originally distributed by the Black Filmmaker Foundation, then in New York City, but are now distributed by Women Make Movies, the premier distributor of films made by women.

Fronza lives in the southwest of France with her translator husband, Simon Pleasance, and two radical black cats. Rumour has it she is writing a memoir.

About Nadia Latif

Nadia Latif is a theatre maker, screenwriter and director. In 2019, she directed Jackie Sibblies Drury’s Pulitzer prize winning play Fairview and her first short White Girl.

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With thanks to Stoffel Debuysere at Courtisane Film Festival and Colleen O’Shea at Women Make Movies.