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Fri, Nov 12


Epsilon Spires

The Radical Helen Keller: Soundbath and Film

Blending activism, historical analysis, and poetry, HER SOCIALIST SMILE explores how Helen Keller’s undaunted activism for labor rights, pacifism, and women’s suffrage was philosophically inseparable from her battles for the rights of the disabled. Sensory Soundbath by Matt Samolis before the film!

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The Radical Helen Keller: Soundbath and Film
The Radical Helen Keller: Soundbath and Film

Time & Location

Nov 12, 2021, 7:00 PM

Epsilon Spires, 190 Main St, Brattleboro, VT 05301, USA

About the event


Her Socialist Smile (Dir. John Gianvito, 2020).  The radical views of author, lecturer, and crusader Helen Keller (who could neither see nor hear) have been largely suppressed or sanitized over the years. A pioneering leftist thinker who fervently and eloquently advocated for many progressive causes (from the rights of women and the disabled to international socialism and world peace), Keller is restored to her rightful place in American political discourse in this new film essay by John Gianvito, the director of Profit Motive and the Whispering Wind, a calm yet radical Howard Zinn–inspired reflection on the history of American progressivism. Applying conscious experimentation of silence and sound, darkness and image, Gianvito combines text taken from Keller's speeches with images of nature captured on the property she and her teacher Anne Sullivan once owned in Wrentham, MA. and voiceover by poet Carolyn Forché to create a unique blend of activism, historical analysis, and poetry.  


Matt Samolis has been working in acoustic/sonic arts for decades. His primary focus has been the modified Bow Chime, based on a sound sculpture design by Robert Rutman. Matt’s work in this realm is an entirely acoustic blending of the drone and harmonic traditions, using bowed cymbals and tuned steel rods. The resulting sounds are as therapeutic as they are otherworldly. Matt’s  presentation on Nov 12th will be offered as a meditative primer for the documentary “Her Socialist Smile”, and an invitation to contemplate how the senses and the spirit can be such powerful motivating forces in our lives.

"Her Socialist Smile reconstructs Keller from an icon of vague, feel-good platitudes to the fiercely political woman she truly was."--Hyperallergic.

" A fascinating and challenging exploration." -NY Times

"Gianvito’s film requires you to truly engage with her words and her mind. She’s been whitewashed by a conservative establishment for 100 years, and "Her Socialist Smile" is an electrifying corrective, a film that makes us work to understand what we miss when Keller’s legacy is reduced to her learning to read braille." -Scout Tafoya, Roger Ebert.


  • The Radical Helen Keller

    Admission for one to The Radical Helen Keller. Please choose your seating with respect for others and let us know if you require special arrangements. $2 from every ticket goes directly towards the historic preservation of the venue. Thank you for your support! Enjoy the program!

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