Hardly a household name, Ida Applebroog is an unknown entity to most viewers. Beth B. must introduce us to her, and compel us to want to know more in Call Her Applebroog.
Now in her 80s, Applebroog was born in the Bronx and her parents were Polish immigrants. In some ways she had a traditional life. She married, had several children and maintained the household. Less traditional was her art, which includes cartoon-like drawings of nude couples in strange positions, dozens of paintings of her vagina, uninhibited journal entries and an unapologetic dedication to her art when many women were sidelined by societal demands.
Over 100 hours of footage taken over fifteen years were sifted through by filmmaker Beth B. to create this biographical capsule of Ida Applebroog. As Applebroog sifts through her seemingly endless files, drawers and cabinets of work we witness a snapshot of the lives that she has lived and the stages that her work has taken. She is uncomfortable looking so far back into her work and life. She says, “It’s like reading things made by another person.” She also describes digging through her past work as, “…like finding specimens of yourself.”
“…taking the very private and making it very public. Once you let go of secrets, nothing is sacred.”
Tidbits of Applebroog’s past help us to understand what shaped her as a woman and as an artist. She shares how on the Sabbath she could do nothing, not even tear toilet paper. She chose to break far away from that restraint. She says of her youth, “We’re all ruined by our childhoods.”
With catchy original music and a fabulous balance of when to edit a shot quickly and when to let a scene unwind, Beth B. has created not only a fascinating character study, and a tribute to an artist, but also a beautiful homage to her mother.
The Houston Cinema Arts Festival brought both the film and Beth B. to Houston for a screening. To learn more about the film and where you can see it, visit the official webpage: http://callherapplebroog.com/screenings/