Michelle Handelman

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Film: 100 Years of Irma Vep, Irma Vep, the Last Breath

Still from "Irma Vep, the Last Breath"

Still from “Irma Vep, the Last Breath”

Filmmaker Michelle Handelman is spearheading 100 Years of Irma Vep, a several weeks-long series of events celebrating the 100th year anniversary of Les Vampires, an awesomely influential French silent film. At this screening, catch her own ode to the film in which she delves deep into Irma Vep’s psychology and reimagines her as a trans-woman and the actress that played her, Musidora, as an aging drag queen handing out tickets at a box office.
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Filmmaker’s ’70s Outlaw Culture’ Past Inspired Her Ode to Century-Old Les Vampires

Musidora as Irma Vep in the original "Les Vampires"

Musidora as Irma Vep in the original “Les Vampires”

This October marks the 100th anniversary of Les Vampires, a silent film–surprisingly surreal for its era and rife with gothic imagery– that stars Musidora as Irma Vep, France’s original vamp. “It’s not a vampire movie– it’s a cops and robbers caper– and she’s the brains behind the Vampire gang,” explained Michelle Handelman, organizer of an extensive series of events devoted to Les Vampires taking place later this month at a handful of institutions around the city.

As part of 100 Years of Irma Vep, Handelman is also screening her own 2014 film, Irma Vep, the Last Breath, a psychoanalytic exploration of the legendary vamp as much as it is a radical reassessment of Irma Vep, who’s played by both a trans-woman and a drag queen. “Both of the actors bring their own experience of living in the margins to the character,” Handelman said.

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