With her first and only feature film — a hard-luck drama she wrote, directed and starred in — Barbara Loden turned in a groundbreaking work of American independent cinema, bringing to life a kind of character seldom seen on screen. Set amid a soot-choked Pennsylvania landscape, and shot in an intensely intimate vérité style, the film takes up with distant and soft-spoken Wanda (Loden), who has left her husband, lost custody of her children and now finds herself alone, drifting between dingy bars and motels, and callously mistreated by a series of men — including a bank robber who ropes her into his next criminal scheme. A rarely seen masterpiece that has nonetheless exerted an outsize influence on generations of artists and filmmakers, WANDA is a compassionate and wrenching portrait of a woman stranded on society's margins. (Note courtesy of Janus Films.) DIR/SCR Barbara Loden; PROD Harry Shuster. U.S., 1970, color, 102 min. NOT RATED
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