The French New Wave cinema of the early 1960s, says Jill Godmilow, “made filmmaking look like anybody could do it.” So Godmilow and her painter boyfriend borrowed some equipment and made a feature-length film. “We made every mistake in the book,” she confesses. No matter. The Spanish-language film was sold to a distributor and a career was born. Now, 20-some nonfiction films and 20-some years later, the former self-described hippie who majored in Russian in college has just been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and her most recent award-winning film, What Farocki Taught, was screened this past spring at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City. “I was hungry, I guess,” the Notre Dame professor of Film, Television and Theater says of her career choices. Not hungry in the literal meaning, she hastens to add, but hungry for a life outside the common culture, for other ways to live, other ways to display life. The woman who’s happiest in the editing room currently is working on a “very radical” project that includes tapes she shot in 1987 of the Mabou Mines company doing a gender-reversed production of King Lear.
— Carol Schaal