Jim Fleming: Marina Lutz never set out to be a film maker, but her short documentary, "The Marina Experiment,” has won awards in film festivals around the world. Marina Lutz talks about "The Marina Experiment."
Marina Lutz: When I first discovered everything I would’ve been 37. I had just moved back from Los Angeles and I decided to clear out my storage space which had all my parents stuff in it. I came across all these boxes. Boxes full of Super-8 film and Real to Real audio tapes and loads and loads of photographs and my friend Jean was with me. She saw it as a treasure trow where as I was just in disbelief. Because I had no recollection of being filmed so much or being tape recorded. I didn’t remember that at all.
There was a Super-8 film of me when I was probably just before puberty. My breast were starting to develop and my father took footage of me with my head cut off it looked like he was focusing on my developing breast and what I was doing was I had my cat in the shot and I was basically torturing the cat which I imagine was because I was trying to distract my father Because I knew he was looking at my breast.
But I don’t know how aware I was. If I was even present in that moment. In so many ways it feels like I might even just have left my own body when stuff like that was going on because I tend to still do that now when faced with something traumatic or distressing.
CLIP: Father: The idea of this tape is to tell us from the beginning to the end, everything that happened not for us to know, but for you to know what happened 20 years from now.
Marina Lutz: There is a series of photographs that he took of me potty training and some people might look at these pictures taken out of context and just say “ Oh, those are pictures of a child potty training!”
CLIP: Father: Well first Marina I think you should go peepee. Marina Lutz: Alright.
Father: Alright. Father: I want to take a picture. Smile for me now! (laughter). That a girl. Oh thats beautiful.
Marina Lutz: But for me, and the reason I use them in the film, was because in that instance and in quite a few others there was repetitive photographing on his part of womens behinds. And when I looked at it, it was like I could feel him lingering on me longer then need to be. Thats what the pictures felt like. It was the male gaze that I felt from him when I saw the pictures.
CLIP: Father: What are you doing Marina? huh? Marina?.. Marina?
Marina Lutz: There was actually, there was a picture of me when I wasn’t even.. I was probably maybe even thirteen or fourteen where he made me pose in white cotton underwear in a hallway in our apartment. It was the hallway outside my bedroom. And I’m obviously extremely uncomfortable and very unhappy. You know, it was very inappropriate. Why would a father be asking his fourteen year old daughter to pose in her underwear so he can take a picture? I don’t think that's right.
CLIP: Father: Stand over here. I want you to say something. Marina Lutz: Hello! HI! Father: Don’t, No. You are not supposed to touch those things remember? You are not supposed to touch the microphone. You know that? Marina: Yeah. Father: You cant touch it you gotta just talk to it. You want to try again? Marina: No. Father: No? Come here talk to me. Sit here, sit here.
Marina Lutz: On the audio tapes really was a lot of bullying.
CLIP: Father: Do you know I pledge allegiance? Marina: Yes I pledge allegiance to the flag... Father: Don’t sit on the table. Father: Yes. And what else? Huh? Father: Wait a minute start again now! Marina: I pledge allegiance .. (screaming)
Marina Lutz: I mean the memories that I had were and are continue to be visceral. So just hearing his voice and also hearing him constantly bullying me into doing things that I didn’t want to do and.. and and hearing myself as this tiny little girl sort of weeping and not wanting to do things.
CLIP: Marina Lutz: I don’t want to sing!
Marina Lutz: In probably 2003, I started really going through the archive again and decided that in order to bring some of the material into my therapy, I needed to try to maybe use editing to put together little snippets that I could bring in and show my therapist so that she can understand how this stuff made me feel.
CLIP: Father: I understand Santa Claus said he wasn’t going to bring you anything. Did he say that? Marina: No. Father: What did he say? Marina: He said if I am very good he’ll bring something to me . Father: Alright. Marina: I wanna know if Santa Claus brought me a Chinese... Father: Wait a minute. Let’s get everything ready. Oh, there’s a letter! Marina: There’s a letter. Look at what he said. Father: Oh, wait a minute. Father: Dear Marina, I couldn’t get you a Chinese dress in your size. I hope you will like all the other presents I brought you. Santa Claus. Father: Oh I’m sorry. I guess there’s no Chinese dress. Cuz it doesn’t come your size. Marina Lutz:? Father: He says I couldn’t get the Chinese dress in your size....Isn’t that nice that he brought you a letter. Isn’t that nice? Marina: Maybe another Christmas Day he could get me a Chinese... Father: Yes. You are absolutely right. Marina: Doesn’t that card say that?
Marina Lutz: I got a really predominantly positive reaction from a lot of people. A lot of people that had had a simular experiences which was just apalling to me. That were emailing me and continue to email me thanking me for providing evidence for them that this kind of behavior exists and that this kind of thing is wrong. I’ve also gotten, not as much, but a certain amount of very angry correspondence from men who think I deserve jail time for the slander of my father and who think that I took innocent photographs and put them together in a way to make him look particularly terrible. I refer to everything in the archive as evidence, because thats what it feels like to me. It’s not.. its not documentation of a happy childhood. There’s not one picture of my parents hugging me. There’s not a film of them hugging me. There’s no evidence of them ever holding me or loving me or caring about me. The pictures that are taken of me I always am posed or looking extremely unhappy. So I guess its evidence of a very sad childhood. I don’t like the word victim, and I say that in one of the pieces that I wrote, that I prefer to think of myself as an opponent. Although, I don’t know of what other word to use. I guess I feel like a victim now in that Im constantly coming up against the same challenges that I can’t get past. I mean, really all I really want and I think its what everybody wants in life, is to be loved. But I don’t know how to let that love in. Because my experience with that has been so negative that... that it doesnt feel good when somebody actually cares about me. It feels terrifying.
Jim Fleming: Marina Lutz on her award winning documentary “The Marina Experiment."