The Bloody Child

Director: Nina Menkes
Screenwriters: Tinka Menkes, Nina Menkes

Institute History

  • 1996 Sundance Film Festival


Nina Menkes returns to Sundance with her third feature film. Internationally recognized as one of our most audacious and provocative directors, she has been making fiercely independent films for the last thirteen years. Working in close collaboration with her sister Tinka Menkes, who is a cocreator as well as the lead in every movie, she continues her dedication to expand the cinematic form in The Bloody Child. The film derives its inspiration from a real incident. A young U.S. marine, recently back from the Gulf War, is discovered at dawn, digging a grave in the middle of the Mojave Desert. His car, with the bloody body of his wife inside, is spotted by two military policemen on routine patrol, and they arrest him for murder.

Menkes’s interpretation of this event is far from linear. It is a cinematic obsession with the mundaneness of this act. She doesn’t dwell on facts or solutions but instead makes us part of the dreamlike state that follows this tragic occurrence. Stylistically she uses striking images to punctuate the stillness, almost as if the dead woman is bearing witness to her own murder. Dialogue is sparse but when used, it is efficient and effective. There are some incredible moments with real marines, who wrote some of their own scenes as well as act in them. Be warned that the images may stick in your mind, and you will find yourself dwelling on them later. I say (with some embarrassment) that it reminds me of the same fascination that made me sit for hours and watch the O.J. Simpson trial.

— John Cooper

Screening Details

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