Gesa Matthies’ film: The Lady in the Book

GESA MATTHIES was born and raised in Germany and has lived in Marseille, France, as a documentary filmmaker and editor since 1999. She studied American literature, cultural science and cinema in Germany and at the University of Provence. In 1987 she spent a year in California in high school, and picked Sylvia Plath for her senior paper, having discovered Plath in Germany when one of her journal excerpts was published in an anthology for teenage girls. In 2008, a friend of hers happened to purchase the house in Jamaica Plain where Plath’s family lived when she was born. This coincidence led to her deciding to make a film inspired by Plath’s early life.

Matthies came to the Atlantic beaches, residential suburbs of Boston, and Smith College, to walk where young Plath had walked and to meet contemporary young women who have read the journals in which she testifies to her struggles as an emerging artist and an ambitious young woman struggling to emancipate herself from traditional female models. Through Plath’s words, as read by Smith students, the film portrays the early yearning for greatness of this icon of American poetry, as well as the resonance her autobiographical prose has for young women who are searching to define themselves and their futures amidst and against today’s strictures and expectations. The Lady in the Book is a co-production of Ana Films, S. Production, and Vosges Television, with support from the CNC, Region Alsace, Strasbourg Eurométropole and Pocirep-Angoa.