In 1975 trailblazing director Martha Coolidge (Valley Girl, Rambling Rose) made her feature film debut with the startling Not a Pretty Picture, a documentary-fiction hybrid that continues to raise provocative questions about sexual violence and the ethics of its on-screen representation. Coolidge based the film’s fictional sections on her rape at the age of sixteen; in the role of her younger self she cast Michele Manenti, also a rape victim. As they interpret Coolidge’s script, cast members reflect on their encounters with assault, their feelings about acting out scenes of intense aggression, their attitudes concerning consent, trauma, and self-blame, and, in the case of Coolidge’s best friend Anne Mundstuk, their ability to play themselves. Realizing documentary’s potential to foster personal catharsis and interpersonal dialogue, Not a Pretty Picture stands as one of the genre’s boldest and most revelatory experiments in meta-cinema.
Restored in 2022 from original 16mm elements by the Academy Film Archive and The Film Foundation. Restoration funding provided by the Hobson/Lucas Family Foundation. his film is part of the Women in Film Series taking place March 7th - 10th at Sidewalk Cinema.