. Conversations at the Edge (CATE)

Lizzie Borden’s Working Girls

Posted by | gfung | Posted on | March 29, 2024

Friday, March 29, 6:00 p.m.

Join the iconic filmmaker Lizzie Borden for a screening of Working Girls.

Lizzie Borden, Working Girls, 1986. Courtesy of Janus Films.

Working Girls is, among its serious splendors, an act of solidarity.” —So Mayer, Current

In her groundbreaking third feature, Lizzie Borden looks at gender, race, and labor relations in a Manhattan brothel. Inspired by the experiences of sex workers Borden met while making Born in Flames, Working Girls follows the rhythms of a day-in-the life of Molly (Louise Smith), an artist who turns to sex work to fund her photography practice (images provided by the artist Nan Goldin). Molly and her colleagues greet clients in the brothel’s pastel-hued reception, change sheets, answer the phone, and log their earnings in a ledger overseen by their overpaid boss, paralleling women’s labor of all kinds—from domestic to the office. 

Lizzie Borden, 1986, USA, 93 minutes

In English / Format: DCP

Digitally restored by The Criterion Collection and the UCLA Film & Television Archive, in conjunction with Sundance Institute. Funding provided by The Criterion Collection and Sundance Institute. Laboratory services by Criterion Post and Roundabout Entertainment, Inc.

Presented in partnership with the Gene Siskel Film Center; the University of Illinois Chicago’s (UIC) College of Architecture, Design, and the Arts; and UIC’s Department of Gender and Women’s Studies. 

About the artist

Lizzie Borden is a writer, director, editor, and script consultant. Her 1983 film Born in Flames, named one of “The 50 Most Important Independent Films” by Filmmaker Magazine, has been shown at countless festivals and theaters around the world. It has been taught and written about extensively since its 1983 premiere at the Berlin Film Festival. In 2016, when the film was restored by Anthology Film Archives, New Yorker critic Richard Brody called it “a feminist masterpiece.” Borden also wrote, directed, and produced the controversial independent fiction film Working Girls, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in the Directors’ Fortnight, won a US Dramatic Special Jury Recognition at the Sundance Film Festival, and was restored by the Criterion Collection in 2021. Borden’s long-unseen 1976 film Regrouping was restored by Anthology Film Archives in 2023.


CATE events are presented with real-time captions (CART). Hearing loops, wheelchair accessibility, and companion seating are also available at the @filmcenter. For other accessibility requests, please visit saic.edu/access or write cate@saic.edu.