QUEEN OF DIAMONDS
Director: Nina Menkes Run Time: 77 min. Release Year: 1991
Starring: Emmellda Beech, Emmellda F. Beech, Jeff Douglas, Kathryn Francomacaro, Tinka Menkes
Critically acclaimed for her radical feminist body of work, Nina Menkes’ Queen of Diamonds (Sundance ’91) is the second title in a quartet of films (alongside The Great Sadness of Zohara (1983), Magdalena Viraga (1986), and The Bloody Child (1996)), that Menkes produced, wrote, directed, and shot, all of which star her sister, Tinka Menkes.
Queen of Diamonds follows the alienated life of Firdaus (Tinka Menkes), a Blackjack dealer in a Las Vegas landscape juxtaposed between glittering casino lights and the deteriorating desert oasis. Negotiating a missing husband and neighboring domestic violence, Firdaus’ world unfolds as a fragmented but hypnotic interplay between repetition and repressed anger. Shot with a beautiful compositional rigor echoing Chantal Akerman’s Jeanne Dielman, Queen of Diamonds is a remarkable and demanding masterpiece of American independent filmmaking. Heralded as one of the most challenging and subversive filmmakers working today, the re-release of Queen of Diamonds marks the start of a new critical recognition for Menkes’ groundbreaking body of work.
New restoration by The Academy Film Archive and The Film Foundation, with funding provided by the George Lucas Family Foundation.
“[Menkes’] provocative and visually arresting art films hover between experimental and narrative, fearlessly exploring the alienated feminine, the subconscious and violent patriarchal outer realities… A single eight-minute take of a burning palm tree is mesmerizing; Menkes’ aesthetic combines Baudrillard’s notion of the hyperreal with Akerman’s fierce feminist social critique.” Selina Robertson, Sight & Sound
“Interspersing these recurring story threads with dreamlike passages that play like vivid projections of Firdaus’s fraught psychology, Menkes constructs a temporal slipstream of images and emotion that, almost 30 years on, has lost none of its beauty or essential mystery.” – Jordan Cronk, Film Comment
“In Queen of Diamonds, Menkes offers a trance-inducing tour of an overdeveloped city—a stand-in for our overdeveloped country—by fixing her camera precisely on the castoffs of conspicuous consumption.” – Sarah Resnick, 4 Columns