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Dir. Mai Zetterling
United Kingdom, 1982

Anyone who has spent any time in an all-girls education, mental or punitive institution will find that Zetterling has captured many essential elements in SCRUBBERS from 1982. SCRUBBERS was the female answer to SCUM, Alan Clarkes 1979 graphic drama about a boys borstal.  Zetterlings film is more colorful and emotional, involving lesbian relationships, separation from children, and self-harm. There is also plenty of fighting, swaggering, glue-sniffing and bawdy singing. The most famous scene evokes TITICUT FOLLIES, when the borstal performs a variety show under the banner Hellhole Bitches: Therapeutic Entertainment from the Psycho Freaks. Also featuring 80s anarcho-pop star Honey Bane as one of the borstal crew.


Despite decades as an international actress and twenty-odd filmmaking credits, Mai Zetterling remains a short entry in academic encyclopedias and references to feminist cinema. Zetterling identified her filmmaking as characteristically Swedish, describing it as a relentless search for truth through self-analysis perhaps too much. The truths she brings to the screen are those of familial neuroses, powerful women, gay desire, and quests for authentic artistry. Critics of her films have cheered her craft, but complain of a lack of connection to her main characters. That critique does not take a wide view: most of her protagonists are in the grips of powerful memories, experiencing flashbacks and psychic disorientation. This approach to subjectivity erodes the stable identity of the individual, who is vexed and tortured by past experiences, sometimes unable to move on. We are no more distant from these characters as they are from themselves, seeing the truth of their un-sublimated desires.


124 South 3rd Street
Brooklyn, NY 11249
United States



Kid Friendly: No
Non-Smoking: Yes!
Wheelchair Accessible: No


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