Labyrinth Project (Nina MENKES, Kristy KANG, Marsha KINDER)
The Crazy, Bloody, Female Center


Named "One of the most provocative artists in film today" by The Los Angeles Times, NINA MENKES synthesizes inner dream worlds with harsh, outer realities. Her five films--( three full length features)--are a body of work Sight and Sound has called "Controversial, intense and visually stunning."

Menkes works closely with her sister, Tinka Menkes, who is both lead performer and creative collaborator. Their films have shown widely in major international film festivals including Toronto, Rotterdam, Locarno, London, Sundance, Cairo, as well as at the Cinematheque Francaise, The British Film Institute, the Beijing Film Academy in China, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The sisters' many honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship, two Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, an Annenberg Foundation Independent Media Grant, and an American Film Institute Independent Filmmaker Award.

Most recently Menkes won a 1998 Film/Video Award from the Rockefeller Foundation for her new script HEATSTROKE. This new feature is being produced by Gus Van Sant and is scheduled to be shot in summer '99, in Los Angeles and Cairo, Egypt.

Nina Menkes teaches directing at the USC Film School, Los Angeles.

MARSHA KINDER, the Producer of "The Crazy Bloody Female Center" and the DVD anthology "Doors to the Labyrinth," is a cultural theorist, a prolific film scholar, the founding editor and contributing board member of several prominent journals, a multimedia producer, and since 1980 professor of critical studies in the School of Cinema-Television at the University of Southern California. In 1995 she received the prestigious USC Associates Award for Creativity in Research, and in 1997 was appointed director of the Labyrinth Project, a three-year research initiative funded by the Annenberg Center for Communication for expanding the language of interactive narrative. As part of this initiative, she is hosting "Interactive Frictions," an international conference on interactive narrative at USC's Davidson Conference Center, June 4-6,1999, and an installation exhibit at USC's Fisher Gallery, June 4-18, at which "Doors to the Labyrinth" will be premiered. More information about these events can be found on the website has served on the Grand Jury at MILIA, and in conjunction with her work on children's multimedia, has been a consultant for Sega, Mindscape, and Fox. With Oscar winning documentary filmmaker Mark Jonathan Harris, she co-wrote, co-produced, and co-directed an experimental CD-ROM game for teens called "Runaways," which deals with issues of gender, race and ethnic identity. She is also General Editor of the Cine-Discs series of bilingual CD-ROMs on national media cultures, whose first disc is her own Blood Cinema: Exploring Spanish Film and Culture (1994).

Author of over one hundred published essays and ten books, her most recent works include: Playing with Power in Movies, Television and Video Games (1991), Blood Cinema: The Reconstruction of National Identity in Spain (1993), Refiguring Spain: Cinema, Media, Representation (1997), Luis Bunuel's The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1998), and forthcoming in 1999 Kids's Media Culture. Since 1977 she has been on the editorial board of Film Quarterly, and was also founding editor of Dreamworks (1980-1988), an interdisciplinary quarterly on dreams and the waking arts, and The Spectator.

KRISTY H. A. KANG is a digital media artist and Graphic Designer and Animator of "The Crazy Bloody Female Center". Since 1998 she has been Creative Director of the Labyrinth Project, a three year research initiative funded by the Annenberg Center for Communication for expanding the language of interactive narrative. As a digital media artist, her work deals with the exploration and construction of personal memory, myth and transnational identity. She has presented her work at the European Media Art Festival in Osnabruck, Germany (1997), at MILIA: International Multimedia Conference in Cannes, France (1997) and has participated in panels at MIT (From Barbie to Mortal Combat: A Conference on Gender and Games, 1997) and in Japan where she collaborated on a website for Tokyo Broadcasting System about interpretations of Japanese culture and entertainment. She is co-designer of an interactive game component of "TV Dinner Party", an installation exhibit about the cultural history of television at the Museum of Film and Television in Los Angeles (August 1999) and was the Director of Graphic Design and Animation for an experimental CD-ROM game for teens called "Runaways". In addition to working on various multimedia projects, Ms. Kang has been a digital media consultant and educator for the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles and has served as a panelist for the Asian Pacific Film Festival organized by Visual Communications. She received her MFA in Animation and Digital Arts from The School of Cinema -Television at USC in 1997.


"This is a story about a woman who is haunted by circling images, trapped in violence. She asks you to enter her experience and her search for release." This brief text introduces an interactive world created by independent filmmaker Nina Menkes, in collaboration with producer Marsha Kinder, animation and graphic designer Kristy H.A. Kang, and programmer William Hughes.

Drawing imagery from Menkes' five films, which all feature her sister Tinka Menkes as a deeply alienated woman in powerful resistance against violent and inhospitable landscapes, this "world" seeks to find the core energy field which fuels the work the two sisters have created over the past 15 years--an energy field Nina has named "THE CRAZY BLOODY FEMALE CENTER". As a visitor to this world, you experience a non-narrative concentration of emotion which is embedded in these films. Combining the bold visual language, emotional power, and aesthetic rigor of independent film at its best with the interactivity of new media, it enables you, as in dreams, to draw from a reservoir of highly charged, deeply connected images and sounds and to reedit them with intriguing narrative twists.

The Menkes world is claustrophobic: all the images and sounds continuously loop, and alternative paths are surrounded by a moat of water imagery that forces you back into the fictions. When trying to "escape" from the painful images, you can click on a Butterfly, which carries you to a different, but equally violent universe set in Beirut. Here, for example, stories of a sniper play out against dissolving images of a nude female body, washed in red light. Only at a few key points in the World, by clicking on a magical, glowing Star, do intimations of hope and release appear.

In its final form, this work will be one of three fictions in a DVD anthology titled "Doors to the Labyrinth," produced by the Labyrinth Research Initiative on Interactive Narrative, a project of the Annenberg Center for Communication at the University of Southern California. Functioning as a model of intertextual reading, this anthology interweaves fictional worlds by three award-winning Los Angeles based artists, who are internationally known for their experimentation with non-linear narrative in other media: independent filmmakers Nina Menkes and Pat O'Neill, and novelist John Rechy. All three fictions explore a complex seasoned subjectivity whose provocative images and memories enable us to reimagine the megacity of Los Angeles and its rich intersections with other historical moments and cultural spaces.