With her first and only feature filmâa hard-luck drama she wrote, directed, and starred inâBarbara Loden turned in a groundbreaking work of American independent cinema, bringing to life a kind of character seldom seen on-screen. Set amid a soot-choked Pennsylvania landscape, and shot in an intensely intimate vÃ©ritÃ© 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, where she falls prey to a series of callous menâincluding a bank robber who ropes her into his next criminal scheme. An until now difficult-to-see 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 societyâs margins.
- I Am Wanda, an hour-long documentary by Katja Raganelli featuring an interview with director Barbara Loden filmed in 1980
- Audio recording of Barbara Loden speaking to students at the American Film Institute in 1971
- Segment from a 1971 episode of The Dick Cavett Show featuring Barbara Loden
- The Frontier Experience (1975), a short educational film about a pioneer womanâs struggle to survive, directed by and starring Loden
- An essay by film critic Amy Taubin