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Frida Kahlo’s Corset

Produced and directed by Liz Crow
10 minute filmed drama, 2000
With captions

About

Frida Kahlo’s Corset is a short experimental drama that follows a journey of transformation by the Mexican painter Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) who wore a series of orthopaedic corsets because of impairment. The film draws on Kahlo’s own words and characteristically bold painting style. It refutes the picture of Kahlo’s life as one of tragedy and suffering.

 

Awards

Picture This (UK) Short Film Award, 2000

Honourable mention at Picture This Festival (Calgary)

Best of the Fest, Disability Film Festival

Moscow International Disability Film Festival Award

Selected for British Council catalogue

Stills

  • Close-up. In a garden setting, Isolte sits with her arms stretched wide, the technician building layers a corset with strips of wet bandage, coated in plaster of paris, and smoothed into place.
  • Mel sits behind a table, a model of the white corset in front of her, a bandage in her hand. Facing the table, Carol looks through the viewfinder of a tripd-mounted camera ready for a practice shoot.
  • In a darkened studio, a pool of light illuminates Isolte who sits on a table in the distance. She wears a bright yellow top and purple skirt, talking to a crew member as scene is prepared.
  • Against a pitch black backdrop and seated on a black bench, Isolte is dressed in a bright yellow, short-sleeved shirt and long, flowing, orange skirt, with a purple sash. Brightly coloured flowers are woven into her hair and she is adorned with jewellery: large, chunky earrings, necklace, bracelets and rings.
  • Against a pitch black backdrop, Liz points down at a table amongst a collection of jewellery. Isolte, seated on the table in white vest and trousers, looks down.
  • Against a pitch black backdrop, Isolte sits on a table dressed in a bright yellow top and an long orange silk skirt. Her hair is filled with flowers and she clasps her hands in her lap, leaning forward to look at Liz who holds her hands to demonstrate a camera angle.
  • A close up of Isolte, dressed in bright yellow top, with a purple shawl around her shoulders and flowers in her hair. A large film camera is focused on her as she sits against a pitch black backdrop and looks directly into the lens.
  • Isolte sits, her arms outstretched, her back to two members of the crew as they apply wet plaster-coated bandages to construct the corset.
  • Carol adjusts her camera tripod, while a focus puller measures the distance from the camera to actor. Isolte sits facing a stark white backdrop, her back to camera and torso wrapped in a sheet, ready for the corset to be applied.
  • Isolte, wrapped in a white sheet, is seated on a white medical couch against a white backdrop. She looking directly, challenging, at the camera.
  • In the foreground Laura stands facing left of frame in a white coat. In the background, against a white backdrop, Isolte, wrapped in a white sheet, faces away from her.
  • A monochrome photograph: a studio is filled with lights on stands, ladders and boxes of film kit. Against a white backdrop, Frida (Isolte Avila) faced forward, wrapped in the white plaster corset.  The camera is trained on Isolte, the crew in place. On a tall ladder, Mel holds a small pot extended on a pole high above Isolte's head.
  • A studio filled with lights on stands. Against a stark white backdrop, Isolte faces forward, wrapped in the plaster corset. To the left of her sits Carol, who trains the camera on Isolte.
  • Frida's arms are outstretched. Her back wrapped in white plaster bandages and a medic's hands smooth the wet plaster around her torso.
  • In close up, Isolte sits on a medical counch, her back to camera, her lower half draped in a white sheet and the unpainted corset constructed around her.
  • Frida smooths a fresh strip of plaster onto the corset, painted with the handwritten text, blue on the white background.
  • Against a white backdrop, Frida sits, her head held high. Her lower half is draped in a white sheet, the corset decorated with a cracked pillar, a blood red sun, a moon in a darkened sky, lush red watermelon and green leaves.
  • Isolte Avila sits on a medical couch, the half-painted corset wrapped round her. She talks on a mobile phone and bathes her feet in a bowl of water.
  • Director Liz crow sits on her wheelchair, next to another member of the crew, a script on her lap and a styrofoam cup in her hands. They both gaze at events beyond the shot.
  • A polaroid of the 10 crew from the shoot, gathered in the film studio, surrounded by equipment. In front of them is a silver equipment carry case, on which beers and drinks are rested. They grin and pose for the camera.

Screenings

  • UK

    Arnolfini, Bristol
    Tate Modern
    National Film Theatre, London
    Brief Encounters Short Film Festival
    British Federation of Film Societies
    Greenbelt Festival, Cheltenham
    Filton College, Bristol
    Disability Pride, Norwich
    Hastings Museum
    Vassall Centre, Bristol
    Where are the Women? Here they Are! 2012, Cube Cinema, Bristol
    Cornerhouse, Manchester
    Strength to Strength exhibition
    Semana Cultural, Hispanic, Portuguse, Latin American Studies, University of Bristol
    Transitions
    Bird’s Eye View Film Festival
    DaDa Fest, Liverpool
    Above & Beyond international disability arts festival
    Disability Film Festivals, London, Stratford-upon-Avon, South West
    Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts
    World Bank training on disability inclusion
    Borderlines Film Festival, Hereford
    Pallant House, Chichester
    D.Vercity European Disability Arts and Culture Festival, Lancaster
    Purbeck Film Festival
    Cineformation
    Leeds University Disability History Month

  • Canada

    Herland Festival
    Picture This Festival, Calgary
    Toronto Disability Film and Culture Festival

  • Germany

    Munich Festival of Short Films

  • Russia

    Moscow Disability Film Festival

  • US

    Bodies of Work, Chicago

  • Broadcast

    Propellor TV
    HTV
    Sky Television

Credits

  • Frida Kahlo's Corset

    Producer-Director
    Liz Crow

    Director of Photography
    Carol Stevens

    Art Director
    Melanie Leeson

    Editor
    Andy Moss

    Writers
    Liz Crow and Ralph Hoyte

    Music
    Caravanserai and Hetty Hope

    Main Cast
    Isolte Avila
    Laura Jerram
    Carmen Brauning (Voice of Frida Kahlo)

    Production Management
    Infinite Blue Productions in partnership with Picture This Moving Image

Press

  • A remarkably assured debut from a new director of real visual flair

    Disability Now
  • [The film] evokes a Frida exulting in her identity. A passionate and sensual portrait of the artist, the film has the surreal quality of a painting coming to life.

    Disability Arts in London
  • A wonderful poetic and evocative film… Unmissable

    Greenbelt Festival

More Resources

Writing about Frida Kahlo’s Corset

Download Short Film Analysis: Frida Kahlo’s Corset, Dierdre Guthrie, University of Chicago, Illinois, 2005

Writings by Frida Kahlo

The Diary of Frida Kahlo, Harry N Abrams, 1995

The Letters of Frida Kahlo/Cartas Apasionadas, Ed. M Zamora, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, 1995

Writings about Frida Kahlo

Herrera, H (1983) Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo (Harper Row, New York)

Kettenmann, A (1993) Frida Kahlo (Benedickt Taschen)

Lindauer, MA (1999) Devouring Frida (Weslyan University Press)

Kismaric and Heiferman (eds) (1992) Frida Kahlo: The Camera Seduced (Chronicle Books, San Francisco)

Websites about Frida Kahlo

Tate Modern 
Information and resources from the major exhibition in 2005 of Frida Kahlo’s work. Frida Kahlo’s Corset screened alongside the exhibition.

Guardian Unlimited
 Gallery of Kahlo’s paintings.

Frida Kahlo contemporary thoughts 
All kinds of articles and links about the ‘cult of Frida Kahlo’. Check out the ceramic Frida dolls, taken from Kahlo’s paintings, and note that her wheelchair has mysteriously vanished from ‘Self-Portrait with the Portrait of Doctor Farill’ (1951).

Mexico Connect
 The Frida Kahlo Museum.