My new favorite film is a 32-minute documentary short: Clotheslines.
My own mother hung out clothes even in New England winters (the dryer cost money). Here in LA. I hung my clothes for 18 years in the backyard of my Koreatown apartment, and we have a makeshift line I use in summer even now at my rental in Pasadena. Dryers in fact use huge amounts of electricity–so clotheslines are really a beautiful, thrifty, throwback. And as the film shows, doing laundry is a whole huge metaphysical/spiritual/social arena, especially for women.
Don’t miss the interview with director Roberta Cantow in which she discusses the making of the movie. This is fascinating:
There’s one woman at the end who says “It’s just something we gotta’ do. There’s nobody else to do it.” And that’s over a shot of a Taiwanese community of women washing clothes in the river. The woman anthropologist that I was working with told me about a study that had been done where washing machines were introduced to a certain community that didn’t have them, and the whole social fabric fell apart as a result -when women were no longer going to the creek to do their laundry and exchange information.