6 to watch
AT THE SANTA FE FILM FESTIVAL
Reviews of select festival films
Hippie Family Values documentary, 63 minutes, not rated, 3 chiles
The Ranch isn’t a commune or a cult. It’s what might be called an intentional community, formed in the 1970s by men and women who wanted to live outside of traditional capitalism. Potters, gardeners, and community fun-planners talk about their decades at The Ranch, the romantic relationships that blossomed and withered, and the children they raised as a village. A generation grew up on The Ranch, homeschooled and smoking pot with their freewheeling parents, playing outside in roving kid-gangs, with little adult supervision, never knowing the dull blue glow of that ubiquitous babysitter called television. Thirty years into the experiment, Beverly Seckinger’s documentary, Hippie Family Values, takes an affectionate though not uncritical look at the community. The Ranch is located somewhere in New Mexico, though its precise coordinates are not disclosed, in a region of rolling piñon hills, shade trees, and flowing streams — all shot in warm, loving light by Seckinger. It is an idyllic place that has created contentment for some, while others have come and gone and come back again, forever seeking a version of happiness. We meet a young woman who grew up at The Ranch and returned with her new husband and young sons to live close to the land; Seckinger documents her connection to the community over eight years, as we watch her children grow up. The older women seem profoundly well adjusted and deeply maternal, whereas many of the aging men are still reminiscing about old acid trips and apologizing to their grown children for not being more attentive and responsible fathers. — Jennifer Levin Center for Contemporary Arts, 10 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 11; shows with the short film “Uncle Max.”
Mata Hari: The Naked Spy documentary, 78 minutes, not rated, 3.5 chiles
You might recall Greta Garbo as the seductive spy in Hollywood’s 1931 Mata Hari. Or perhaps you caught Jeanne Moreau as the exotic dancer turned secret agent in the 1964 French thriller
Mata Hari, Agent H21. Both are exciting fictional movies, but if you want to know the true story of Mata Hari and how she became World War I’s most notorious spy, watch the new documentary Mata Hari: The Naked Spy.
One hundred years have passed since a French firing squad executed Mata Hari on Oct. 15, 1917, on charges that she spied on France for the enemy Germans. Was she, in fact, engaged in espionage? Yes and no. It’s known that she took money from the Germans to gather intelligence from French soldiers. Many coveted her, not only flocking to her naughty dance performances, but consorting with her afterward. At the same time, she received pay from the French to spill the beans on their German counterparts. So Mata Hari could well have been a double agent. She was probably not much of a professional spy, but simply a stripper with lavish spending habits who bilked both the French and the Germans.
She was actually a Dutch woman, born in Leeuwarden, Holland, in 1876, as Margaretha Geertruida Zelle. In 1895, she married an older Dutch military officer, Capt. Rudolf MacLeod, traveling with him across the globe to a new home on the island of Java in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia). MacLeod was a lousy father, a drunkard who gave his wife syphilis — a disease that also infected their infant daughter, contributing to her death at a young age.
Zelle returned to Holland and divorced MacLeod, embarking on a new career. She became one of Europe’s most talkedabout exotic dancers — a contemporary of Isadora Duncan’s — who packed houses across the continent. She performed as a Javanese princess, nearly nude on stage. Her one display of modesty: She wore a metallic bra because she remained shy about the size of her breasts.
Co-directed by Susan Wolf and Machiel Amorison, and written by Wolf, this is a fast-moving, ever-engaging film. It’s one in which you keep waiting for the other shoe to drop — and it usually does! — Jon Bowman Center for Contemporary Arts, 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 9; shows with the short “Naughty Amelia Jane”; Susan Wolf and Machiel Amorison appear at the screening.