Archive of films Wanda / Wanda

1970, 102 min

Section: Out of the Past
Year: 2011

This renowned directorial debut, winner of the Critics’ Prize at Venice in 1970, is the only work by prematurely deceased actress Barbara Loden. It focuses on a young woman who leaves her family with a sense of resigned indifference and starts off on a journey with no set goal.


"I used to be a lot like Wanda. I had no identity of my own. I just became whatever I thought people wanted me to become,” confided Barbara Loden, confirming the semi-autobiographic nature of her feature directorial debut, unfortunately her only film. But Loden’s direct inspiration for the story of the passive and vulnerable title character was a newspaper article about the real Wanda Goronski, who apparently thanked the judge for sentencing her to 20 years for her part in a bank robbery. The screen Wanda, portrayed by the director herself, refuses to stand up for her rights during divorce proceedings when her husband cites her absolute failure as a mother, wife, and homemaker. With indifferent resignation she starts off on a journey with no set goal. For the purpose of digitally restoring the damaged sections of one of the most impressive debuts in the history of independent film, the original 16 mm reels were copied onto 35 mm stock. A number of sequences, however, were left in their original condition, in harmony with the filmmaker’s directorial style, verging on cinéma vérité, and the low-budget nature of the film.

Restored by the UCLA Film & Television Archive with funding provided by The Film Foundation and Gucci.

About the director

Barbara Loden (1932, Marion, North Carolina-1980, New York City) arrived in New York at the age of 16, first earning her living as a model and nightclub dancer. In the 1950s she got occasional work in television, perfecting her new profession in Paul Mann’s acting courses. She took roles in the films Wild River (1960) and Splendor in the Grass (1961) by Elia Kazan, whom she married in 1968. Two years later she came out with her surprising directorial debut, Wanda, which brought her the Critics’ Prize at the Venice IFF. In the 1970s several of this talented creator’s projects foundered for lack of financing, and her career and life were cut short by cancer.


The Film Foundation, Inc.
7920 Sunset Boulevard, 6th Floor, CA 90046, Los Angeles
United States of America
Tel: +1 212 258 0860

Televentures Corporation
100 South Doheny Drive #1103, CA 90048, Los Angeles
United States of America
Tel: +1 310 278 822 8

About the film

Color, 35 mm

Section: Out of the Past
Director: Barbara Loden
Screenplay: Barbara Loden
Dir. of Photography: Nicholas T. Proferes
Editor: Nicholas T. Proferes
Producer: Harry Shuster
Production: Foundation For Filmmakers
Cast: Barbara Loden, Michael Higgins, Dorothy Shupenes, Peter Shupenes
Contact: The Film Foundation, Inc., Televentures Corporation

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