Indiana Daily Student

Beth B discusses relationship of violence, culture in her films

As part of the Jorgensen Guest Filmmaker Lecture Series, IU Cinema welcomed controversial underground director Beth B on Friday.

Her feature film “Exposed” was screened ?Thursday.

“It’s hard to encapsulate what my work is specifically about, so I just decided to call it psychotic to erotic,” ?Beth B said.

Beth B is a multi-medium artist and has worked with photography, sculpture and paintings and composed several museum installations. Images of her artwork were displayed before her ?presentation.

Bloomington resident Judith Mahy came to the event to learn something new.

“I came to see what was happening to educate myself about what’s going on in new approaches to cinema,” Mahy said.

Beth B began making films in the late 1970s. She has directed short films, feature films and music videos.

Joan Hawkins, associate professor in IU’s Department of Communication and Culture, introduced the director.

“Beth comes out of the edgy DIY movement that started in New York in the mid-1970s,” Hawkins said.

Beth B’s work has central themes that have dominated her work throughout the ’80s, ’90s and now, Hawkins said.

“We’re filled with references to torture, social repression, terror and sexual domination,” she said.

Beth B’s presentation included clips and her commentary on several of her short films, documentaries, feature films and one of her music videos.

“She comes at her work with a perspective of wanting to make useful films,” IU Cinema Director Jon ?Vickers said.

Beth B has also made films and art installments about the criminal justice system. The director played video clips from two multimedia installations on imprisonment: “Out of Sight, Out of Mind” and “Under Lock and Key.”

“The kind of violence that exists in our culture is so prevalent,” she said.

Beth B worked at Court TV for several years and made documentaries about criminals, including many serial killers. She said the job made her paranoid and led her to focus on her personal projects.

“I have this attraction to the outsider,” she said.

Mahy also said she was intrigued by people who can live next door to people who become serial killers.

“Like her, I’m interested in trying to understand how this kind of person is created,” Mahy said.

Beth B showed ?“Belladonna,” a collaboration with artist Ida Applebroog, that she said tries to get into the mind of the killer without judgment or reproach.

“How do we figure out who the person is in front of us?” Beth B said.

The film includes recitations of testimonies from a convicted child murderer, victims of Dr. Joseph Mengele and Sigmund Freud’s case history, “A Child is Being Beaten.”

“All of us need to be aware to stop the cycle of violence,” Beth B said.

Beth B played her music video “The Dominatrix Sleeps Tonight,” which was banned from being shown on television.

She showed clips from two of her feature films, “Salvation!”, which depicts a televangelist who is seduced and blackmailed, and “Two Small Bodies,” a film about a mother suspected of murdering her two children.

“I think she has a breadth of experience that is great for our students and audience to hear about,” Vickers said.

Beth B took questions from the audience at the end of her lecture. When asked what drives her work, she said it was letting the material speak to her.

“All great work is about telling a story,” Beth B said, “and what’s wonderful is that there are just so many different ways you can tell ?a story.”

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