Split Britches

1988, 58 min, color, sound

Based on a play by Lois Weaver, Split Britches is the story of the grim, often hilarious relationship of three Appalachian women. Drawing on family history, Weaver tells the Depression-era tale of a woman and her two nieces who live on an abandoned family homestead in Virginia. The older sister rules the others with an iron hand, condemning them to a life of virtual isolation in a kitchen cluttered with memorabilia and livestock. In staging the work for video, Geller goes against the convention of "opening up" the drama. Shooting in a studio, he stresses the artifice and theatricality of the narrative, elevating the drama through the grand gesture and the close-up. Evoking the women's self-contained existence, their claustrophobia and suppressed emotion, sepia-toned photographs are used to freeze the action, as each woman steps out of her role to speak to the camera.

Producer/Director: Matthew Geller. Written by/ Featuring: Deborah Margolin, Peggy Shaw, Lois Weaver. Based on the play by Lois Weaver. Co-Producer/Associate Director: Barbara Osborn. Director of Photography: Ed Bowes. Production/Sound Designer: Andrea Callard. Editors: Matthew Geller, Barbara Osborn. Music: The Chicken Chokers, Connie Boswell and the John Scott Trotter Orchestra, The Boswell Sisters, Split Britches.