Susana Blaustein Muñoz – English version
This episode is in English
Further down you can also see the movie SUSANA.
In this episode of SAQMI Play we meet the Argentinian filmmaker Susana Blaustein Mūnoz, who became an early queer pioneer with her neverendlingly relevant autobiographical film Susana.
This film from 1980 marks one of the first Swedish lesbian stories to be portrayed in moving images – although Susana is not originally from Sweden, she lived in Stockholm for a while in the late 70’s – and was hanging out in circles involved with Lesbisk front (Lesbian Front). Christina, her Finno-Swedish girlfriend at the time, who was also new to Stockholm, also appears in the film. 40 years later their reborn love is depicted in the short film Old Love Dies Hard, which was meant as a longer follow up to Susana,But seems not to have made it past the 8-minute long documentary form that its in today.
Susana Blaustein Munoz had her broad international breakthrough in 1985 with the documentary film Las Madres de la Plaza de Mayo, which was nominated for an Oscar.
Las Madres is a film about the Argentinian women who challenged the nation’s military rule and waged a tremendous struggle for the right to know what happened to their children who’d disappeared during the years when Argentina was a military dictatorship. Every Thursday the women gathered in front of the President’s residency at the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires. Their white scarves became a symbol of their movement, and the movement grew famous across the world.
Susana Blaustein Munoz, now 68 years of age, has an art degree from the Bezalel Academy in Jerusalem – Israel, and a master in film from the San Francisco Art Institute in the US. Today she once again lives in her hometown of Mendoza in Argentina.
In just a sec we’ll let Susana talk about her work herself. Straight off the bat she mentions her self-portrait Susana, which came to life while she was studying film in San Francisco. Susana is a kind of diary of moving images as well as a meeting between two sisters who’ve chosen different ways of living their lives.
Susana weaves together cinema vérité and interviews to create a collage of stills, amateur films, and animations, to portray the cultural context in which female, sexual, and ethnic identities are formed. In the film, she asks her family members, lovers, exes, and friends to talk about her in front of the camera. What do you think about Susana? she wonders. Just like many of Susana’s films – The film ended up being censured by the Argentinian state. She says that today it’s almost impossible for her to work as a filmmaker in her home country.
Malin Holgersson and SAQMI’s founder Anna Linder had this discussion with Susana on the 28th of June, 2021.
Susana is sitting in her home in Mendoza in Argentina and Anna and Malin are sitting in Anna’s home in Majorna in Göteborg.
Text by Malin Holgersson. Translated to English by Alex Alvina Chamberland. Voice by Sam Message.
Trailer for the film SUSANA:
Screen: ‘Las Madres’ of Argentina
Text by Walter Goodman, The New York Times, April 2, 1986
Relationer blir film långt borta och nära, SvD
Text av Henrik Sahl Johansson, Publicerad den 4 augusti 2014.
Texts and films by Susana Blaustein Muñoz:
SUSANA, 1980, US/Argentina, 25 min, Black/White, 16mm.
Experimental documentary about Susana Blaustein Muñoz life. In this autobiographical portrait, Susana leaves her native Argentina to live her life outside the strictures of Latin American cultural and family pressures. Susana interweaves cinema vérité interviews of her family and lovers with snapshots, home movies and even a Disney cartoon to render the cultural context in which female, sexual and ethnic identity is shaped.
See the film SUSANA
Price: 40 skr. The money goes directly to the filmmaker.
Las Madres; The Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, 1985, 64 min, 16mm. Co-directed and produced with Lourdes Portillo.
Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary in 1986, Las Madres documents the courageous political actions of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, a group of Argentine women who gather weekly at the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires to remember the children that “disappeared” during the Dirty War (1976-1983).
La Ofrenda – The Days of The Dead (El Diade Los Muertos), 1989, 62 min. Produced and Directed by Lourdes Portillo and Susana Blaustein Muñoz. Filmed simultaneously in Oaxaca DF and San Francisco. A documentary exploring the varying cultural practices of the “Day of the Dead” in both Mexico and Chicano/a communities in the United States. Nominated for Grand Jury Prize at Sundance Film Festival 1989.
My Home: My Prison, 1993, 60 min.
My Home: My Prison is based on the autobiography of Palestinian journalist Raymonda Tawil, one of the first Palestinians to engage Israelis in dialogue twenty-four years ago. She was arrested several times by the Israeli military and accused of being a collaborator by some of her own people. Yet today, she is considered a pioneer of the peace process in the Middle East. My Home, My Prison is also about the struggle for women’s rights. Raised in a misogynistic society that limits the freedom of women. Raymonda grew into a person who dared to speak her mind. Now exiled in Paris, she remains controversial; her daughter Suha married Yasser Arafat. Directed with intensity by two Jewish filmmakers. Erica Marcus and Academy Award nominee Susana Blaustein Muñoz, the film, set against the backdrop of the last fifty years of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, goes beyond traditional documentary by interweaving archival footage, interviews and reenacted scenes from Tawil’s memories, accompanied by dramatized excerpts from her writings. It screened at the Haifa Film Festival 1994 -1996.
Ave Phoenix, 1995, 27 min. Short Film. Directed, produced and written by Susana Blaustein Muñoz. Starring Mira Furlan a former actress of Emir Kusturica. Sponsored by AFI in Hollywood,
Awakening from Sorrow: Buenos Aires 1997, 2009, 40 min, Directed by John Knoop and Karina Epperlein. Produced by John Knoop, Susana Blaustein Muñoz, Karina Epperlein. A documentary about the rise of the movement called HIJOS. Children of the disappeared. The film is about a crucial moment in history when the grief of young Argentines – whose parents disappeared and were tortured and killed during the ‘Dirty War’ (Argentina’s dictatorship organized mass killings of civilian dissidents during the 1970s until 1983) erupts into public action, and becomes a cornerstone for social movements from South America to Serbia. Until these young people began to organize and demand explanations from their government, the predominant coping strategy has been to pretend that the missing are still alive. This film documents the power to transform pain into action to lift the veil of repression that has gripped a generation of young people.
Old Love Dies Hard, 2013, 8:30 min. This autobiographical film shows that there is no agelimit for falling in love. The story of Susana and Christina takes us from Stockholm to Buenos Aires. Susana and Christina met in their 20`s and reconnected via Facebook 35 years later. Their love was rekindled at age 60 and they made a commitment to settle together. Never say never is the message!
See the film Old Love Dies Hard:
Credits SAQMI Play:
Producers: Anna Linder and Malin Holgersson
Design and code: Vincent Orback
Composer: Amanda Lindgren
Edited and Mixed by Malin Holgersson
Voice: Sam Message
Publisher: Anna Linder
SAQMI Play is produced with the support from The Swedish Arts Council and Gothenburg City.