Plot & Details
A pioneering lesbian filmmaker, Barbara Hammer has made more than 70 shorts and features over the course of her career. History Lessons, her documentary about lesbianism throughout the 20th century, combines radical sexual politics with a healthy dose of tongue-in-cheek humor. Using archival footage that goes back as far as the dawn of cinema, Hammer covers such diverse media as newsreels, "naturalist" nudies, classroom sex ed films, The Children's Hour, and actual lesbian bar police busts. She combines this footage with stage skits that subvert traditional "lesbian" imagery, as well as such non-screen sources as old pulp paperbacks and sensational tabloid headlines. Throughout the documentary Hammer also shows us her alter ego (Ann Maguire) searching for footage in a huge warehouse stocked full of film cans.