Five female artists explore the competing demands of muse and family in “Who Does She Think She Is?,” an engaging documentary about the struggle to create art while nurturing life.
For Maye Torres, whose mountain home in New Mexico overflows with her paintings and sculptures, this has meant divorce, guilt and feeding her three sons on $24,000 a year. Janis Wunderlich, on the other hand, seems cheerfully adept at managing five children, a husband and a successful career as a sculptor. Only when we examine her fantastical, disturbing figures — often with rabbit ears and tiny, toothy creatures swarming over them — do we see explicit evidence of her internal conflict.
Calmly directed by Pamela Tanner Boll, “Who Does She Think She Is?” is about answering the call to self-expression in the face of biological imperatives and cultural programming. The Guerrilla Girls and other feminists appear for an enlightening primer on sexism in the art world, while the artist Larry Bell inadvertently backs them up by recalling his long-ago decision to mentor Ms. Torres when she appeared as “a cute girl in shorts and halter top” at his front door.
Dismissal is even more painful when it’s closer to home. “I always thought it was a hobby to kill time and stress,” says one son of his mother’s painting. Perhaps he’ll watch this movie and understand.
WHO DOES SHE THINK SHE IS?
Opens on Friday in Manhattan.
Directed by Pamela Tanner Boll; written by Ms. Tanner Boll, Nancy Kennedy and Will Dunning; director of photography, Gary Henoch; edited by Ms. Kennedy; music by John McDowell; produced by Mr. Dunning and Michelle Seligson; released by Artistic License Films. At the Angelika Film Center, Mercer and Houston Streets, Greenwich Village. Running time: 1 hour 24 minutes. This film is not rated.