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Wedding Advice: Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace
Award-winning filmmakers Karen and Fred have been partners for 18 years. Despite mutual commitment and external pressure to wed, they feel ambivalent about marriage. Are they alone in this? What social and political forces contribute to their doubts? They decide to seek advice. With an engaging blend of humor, personal testimony, and expert analysis, this thought-provoking documentary explores the history and contemporary relevance of the institution of marriage.
Interviewees include people who are married, divorced, single, heterosexual, bisexual, gay, and in unmarried, committed relationships; they represent diverse relationships to and perspectives on marriage. Commentators examine the social, economic, and political context in which marriage exists in America and illuminate issues of gender equity, female identity, religious considerations, the exclusion of certain groups (gays/lesbians) from the institution, and the intrusion of commerce and commodification into the celebration.
Re-framing the traditional question, "is there any reason why the two of us should not wed?" the filmmakers ask their subjects: "Is there any reason why the two of us should wed?" As others tell their marriage stories and offer their wedding advice, the film reveals a conflicting desire for and fear of marriage traditions in contemporary American culture. Sections of the film follow traditional marriage scripts from the proposal onward and feature recent marriage-related happenings. The film concludes with the "advice" the filmmakers have received.
At once entertaining and informative and both deeply personal and political, "Wedding Advice" is sure to capture student interest and stimulate thoughtful discussion in a variety of courses in sociology, psychology, women's and gender studies, popular culture, and cultural anthropology. It was produced by Karen Sosnoski and Fred Zeytoonjian.
"A cloud of white organza blurs many basic truths about the institution of marriage. Sober topics lurking behind the altar include the commercialization and economics of weddings, the triangle of the couple and the state, the shaping of femininity, and the reinforcement of heterosexuality. Sociology professors teaching about family, state, economy, and gender will find in this film a wonderful tool for exploring these ideas with their students. Students, in turn, will be able to unmask the institution of marriage and explore its meaning in their own lives." -- Shulamit Reinharz, Jacob Potofsky Prof. of Sociology and Director, Women's Studies Research Center, Brandeis Univ.
"A perfect film for a Women's Studies classroom! Balancing on the one hand the personal testimony of people who have married and of marriage-resisters with, on the other hand, academic insight and commentary, the filmmakers present a panoply of justifications for and against marriage. The film challenges the naturalness of the institution and exposes its often-hidden economic component. Interweaving archival photographs and film footage parodying wedding rituals with interviews of contemporary couples, the film suggests just how much marriage is 'a spectacle of accumulation.' As one of the interviewees asks, 'At the turn of the millennium, why are we still doing it?' This film attempts to answer that question and does so beautifully. It is sure to provoke thoughtful discussion of a provocative issue. The political has rarely been so personal." -- Prof. Temma F. Berg, Coordinator of Women's Studies, Gettysburg College
"This witty and incisive documentary is perfect for use in courses in cultural studies, women's studies, and, generally, any course in which critique -- and attention to context -- plays a pedagogical role. For cultural studies courses, the film provokes students to think through the imbrication of ritual, the everyday, family, state, sex and sexuality, identity, and much more. The interviews taken together offer a fascinating composite portrait of contemporary urban and suburban America. The film is rich in possibilities and, not insignificantly, short enough to be used in a single sitting." -- Dan Moshenberg, Assoc. Prof. of Women's Studies, George Washington Univ.
- "Best of Festival," Dahlonega Intl. Film Festival
- American Sociological Assn. honoree
- American Psychological Assn. honoree
- Western Psychological Assn. honoree
- Houston Multicultural Independent Film Festival honoree
- Durango Intl. Film Festival honoree
- Education Channel Independents' Film Festival honoree
- Rosebud Film and Video Showcase honoree
- Downstream Intl. Film Festival honoree
- Detroit Docs honoree