HER SOCIALIST SMILE

“A fascinating and challenging exploration of Keller’s political thought.” — Glenn Kenny, The New York Times

Though her life generated voluminous literature, most people ignore the fact that iconic deaf-blind author Helen Keller (1880–1968) was one of the most passionate socialist advocates of her time. Continuing his work of patient and insightful political filmmaking, director John Gianvito (Profit Motive and the Whispering Wind) resurrects Keller’s radical views, which have been largely suppressed or sanitized over the years. In Her Socialist Smile, he researches how, beginning in her early 30s, the pioneer leftist thinker fervently and eloquently spoke out on behalf of many progressive causes, from the rights of women and the disabled, to international socialism and world peace. Gianvito combines onscreen text taken from her most memorable public appearances, recorded voiceover by politically engaged poet Carolyn Forché, and quiet images of nature, creating another unique blend of activism, historical analysis and poetry. Reminding us that leftist struggles are inseparable from disability advocacy, Keller’s words remain remarkably pertinent today.

Directed by John Gianvito. 2020. USA. 93 min.



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