(1974) 58 minutes, with Judy Collins
distributed on videotape by Direct Cinema. Some limited edition DVDs are available on eBay.
A film biography of Dr. Antonia Brico - a conductor, a teacher, a pioneer
in the concert halls of the world - this fascinating blend of music, politics,
romance and memories is the story of history's first woman symphony conductor,
powerful, humorous, inspiring and thoroughly unrepentant. This is the American
documentary that broke through many of the boundaries of what was considered
"kosher" in the genre by including animation, self-reflection,
and dramatically original editing.
from Time Magazine, Jay Cocks, 10/21/74
"In 1930, when she was 28, Antonia Brico became the first woman ever
to conduct the Berlin Philharmonic. Today, at age 73, she is dedicated to
an orchestra of semi-professionals in Denver. This wonderful documentary
tells the story of an extraordinary musician's life - how she survived with
spirit and intelligence , how she was scarred but not humbled by the problem
of being both a woman and an artist in America. The result is a film that
is both a testament and a tribute. ANTONIA is much the best example so far
of a new feminist consciousness in movies, a statement that is clear and
direct, fiercely calm and moving. There is not a moment of rhetoric or self-pity
in it. Rather, ANTONIA is history shaped into a subtle and perfect metaphor....
a lovely and urgent document."
from the New York Times, Nora Sayre, 9/19/74
"The headlines refer to "triumphs", but the tone is patronizing:
"Yankee Girl Startles Berlin Critics" (The New York Times, 1930.)
Along with the acclaim for a deeply serious conductor, there's the lurch
of astonishment at the mere fact of her sex. ANTONIA, a superb documentary
about conductor Antonia Brico, details the achievement and the struggles
that began for a child who was first taught piano because she bit her nails
- and continue for the 73 year old who now conducts a community orchestra
in Denver... ANTONIA is biographical cinema at its best, and it will encourage
many women in fields other than music, thanks to Dr. Brico's determination
and her refusal to be defeated."
from New York Magazine, Tom Allen, 9/22/1974
"...a truly subversive and revolutionary motion picture... one of the
touching stories of the century about one woman's resistance against public
from the Village Voice, Molly Haskell
"In the grace of the cutting and the judiciousness of what is shown
and what is not shown, the film exhibits a mastery that is by no means extraneous
to it subject. It teaches those of us who watch for excellence in women's
films to demand the best and to be spare without superlatives, for there
will be opportunities to use them."
selected festivals and prizes
Festival International de Films de Femmes, Paris
Festival International du Cinema, Nyon
London Film Festival
Telluride Film Festival
Nomination for Academy Award, Feature Documentary
"Best Feature Documentary", Independent Film Critics of New York
National Broadcasts: US, Australia, Sweden, France, Israel