FEBRUARY 26 2009 12:45h

Who`s Afraid Of Big Bad Feminist Kathy Acker?


She was wild and unbridled, did not chose her words or she chose the sharpest ones. Some admired her, others were terrified. Kathy!

How to describe a woman who never chose her words? Barbara Caspar, director of “Who`s Afraid Of Kathy Acker” gave the word to the people who knew her best – her friends, former lovers, colleagues and students.

Austrian director Barbara Caspar invested three years of her worn into “Who`s Afraid Of Kathy Acker”. She studied photography, philosophy, psychology, multimedial and conceptual art, as well as painting and she combined all of these preferences into her first film which deals with young controversial American feminist writer Acker.

The film is opened and closed with the information that Kathy`s book 'Blood and Guts in High School' (1984) is included in the list of harmful books for youth, with video-documentary moments from Kathy`s life lining to that threat, coloured by animated sequences from the “life” of her favourite character, her alter ego Janey and statements of people whose lives were marked by the feminist author is one way or the other.

She called herself a pirate

Although she was dubbed an asexual feminist, her sexuality was accentuated. And even though she looked tough (with short bleached hair, piercings, tattoos and coloured teeth) and had a tough disposition, her lovers described her as gentle and emotional. She went from the top of the social ladder and fell to the bottom, danced in striptease clubs and shot porn films to survive, but she was determined to become a writer.-.-press-.-

She turned her biography into a novel for a dramatic effect – according to some, at least. Her feminist experimental prose was created by rearranging classic literature works like “Hamlet” and “Don Quijote”, by creating collages of their elements and as vicious people said, by introducing her vulgarity to other`s quotes. She was celebrated in Great Britain and persecuted for plagiarism, but she equally had fun.

Outcast until the very end

Kathy Acker, born in 1947 as Karen Alexander, found out she had breast cancer in 1996. After a double mastectomy, she and Western medicine went their separate ways. In the end, she died in an alternative medicine clinic in Mexico the next year.

The film, just as dynamic as her life was, caused divided reactions of the audience which attended the late night screening of the film during the ZagrebDox documentary film festival. However perhaps the people applauded quietly because coffee was not distributed like it was during the Zagreb Film Festival.