W.A.R. is a film that revels in its own disjointedness. Shot over 40 years by artist/director Lynn Hershman, it takes a machine gun approach to telling the schizophrenic story of the women’s art movement from the ’60s up to today, dissecting its major events through interviews and footage Hershman shot as they unfolded. The film is primarily about the struggle to find recognition in a world where congress debates for hours to prevent the exhibition of art because it contains depictions of vaginas, where 83 per cent of nudes at the Met are female but only three per cent of the art was produced by women, and where infighting constantly tears apart and rebuilds the whole movement. Footage from mavericks like Hannah Wilke, Dr. Lucy Lippard, and the Gorilla Girls—anonymous, costumed vigilantes of the art world who fight against the established elite—combine with shocking statistics and a lot of images of genitalia to make a powerful narrative that holds society accountable for its past prejudices, celebrates how far women have come, and is hopeful about where they have to go.
W.A.R. premieres at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 12, with additional screenings on September 14 and 19.