Queen of Diamonds

Nina Menkes, US, 1991, 77 min.

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Critically acclaimed for her radical feminist body of work, Nina Menkes’ Queen of Diamonds (Sundance ’91) is the second title in a quartet of films, alongside The Great Sadness of Zohara (1983), Magdalena Viraga (1986), and The Bloody Child (1996), that Menkes produced, wrote, directed, and shot, all of which star her sister, Tinka Menkes.

Queen of Diamonds follows the alienated life of Firdaus (Tinka Menkes), a Blackjack dealer in a Las Vegas landscape juxtaposed between glittering casino lights and the deteriorating desert oasis. Negotiating a missing husband and neighboring domestic violence, Firdaus’ world unfolds as a fragmented but hypnotic interplay between repetition and repressed anger. Shot with a beautiful compositional rigor echoing Chantal Akerman’s Jeanne Dielman, Queen of Diamonds is a remarkable and demanding masterpiece of American independent filmmaking. Heralded as one of the most challenging and subversive filmmakers working today, the re-release of Queen of Diamonds marks the start of a new critical recognition for Menkes’ groundbreaking body of work.

New restoration by The Academy Film Archive and The Film Foundation, with funding provided by the George Lucas Family Foundation.

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