Elisabeth Subrin is a New York-based filmmaker, screenwriter, and visual artist who creates conceptually driven projects in film, video, photography and installation. Working across experimental and narrative forms, her projects seek intersections between history and subjectivity, investigating the nature and poetics of psychological "disorder," the legacy of feminism, and the impact of recent social and political history on contemporary life and consciousness.
After studying history, literature and creative writing at The University of Wisconsin, Madision, Subrin received a BFA in Film from the Massachusetts College of Art and a MFA in Video from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she then taught for two years. Subrin has since held appointments at The Five Colleges in Western Massachusetts, Harvard University, Yale University, Bennington College and Cooper Union. She is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Film and Media Arts at Temple University.
Her award-winning short films, video art and installations have screened and exhibited widely in the US and abroad, including solo shows at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, The Vienna International Film Festival, The Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, Harvard Film Archives, Cambridge, The San Francisco Cinematheque, and Film Society of Lincoln Center. She has presented her films in group shows, festivals and museums internationally, including The Whitney Biennial, The Guggenheim Museum, The Walker Art Center, The New York Film Festival (1998, 2000, 2006), The European Media Arts Festival, VOLTA/NY, Mercer Union, Toronto and the Rotterdam International Film Festival (1998, 2001, 2016). In 2012, her film Shulie was included in the British Film Institute’s Sight&Sound once-a-decade international critics’ poll for “The Greatest Films of All Times.” Richard Brody covered her 2015 solo show at Film Society of Lincoln Center for The New Yorker, writing of Shulie: “Subrin’s concepts are ingenious and her experiment results in a major advance in the field. Her ideas are beautiful, and the movie is a thing of wonder.” (April 10, 2015)
In 2010, Sue Scott Gallery in New York mounted a critically acclaimed retrospective of her work, Elisabeth Subrin: Her Compulsion To Repeat, including her 2010 video installation Lost Tribes and Promised Lands, her 2008 two-channel film projection Sweet Ruin, as well as selected experimental films, videos and large-scale photographic stills from 1990-2010. Parts of the exhibition then traveled to MoMA/PS1’s Greater New York, The Mattress Factory, Pittsburgh, La Musee D’Art Contemporain de Val De Marne, Paris, The Haggerty Museum, Milwaukee, and in solo exhibitions at The Jewish Museum, New York, and VOLTA, New York.
Subrin has received grants and fellowships from The Rockefeller Foundation, The Guggenheim Foundation, The Annenberg Foundation, Creative Capital, The Westenberger Foundation and The Andrea Frank Foundation. She was a fellow at The Sundance Institute’s Feature Filmmaker and Screenwriter Labs. She has been a fellow at The MacDowell Colony six times, as well as creating a commissioned film for their Centennial. She has also held residencies at Yaddo and Denniston Hill.
Her work has been written about extensively in The New York Times, Artforum, The New Yorker, Art Journal, Frieze, BOMB, The LA Weekly, The San Francisco Bay Guardian, The Village Voice and The Boston Globe and has been the subject of academic book chapters, essays, and panels. Subrin is the creator of the feminist film blog, Who Cares About Actresses, and lectures frequently on film, feminism and independent cinema.
In February, 2016 Subrin premiered her first feature narrative film, A Woman, A Part, that she wrote and directed, at The Rotterdam International Film Festival in the Tiger Awards competition. Of the film, Erika Balsom of Artforum wrote, “A Woman, A Part’s refreshing departures from the norm are to be found less in the film’s form, which remains rather conventional, and more in its treatment of human subjects, particularly its willingness to push back against hackneyed character types and insist on the need to represent diverse people and experiences onscreen. If only more American independent cinema was this poignant compelling.” (February 9, 2016)