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.
“Writer-director-actor Barbara Loden’s 1970 feature has a wonderful, hard-won sense of everyday rapture.” – Chuck Bowen, Slant Magazine
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. (Dir. by Barbara Loden, 1970, USA, 102 mins., Not Rated)