Nina Menkes is an independent filmmaker.:202:82 Her films include The Great Sadness of Zohara (1983), Magdalena Viraga (1986), Queen of Diamonds (1991), The Bloody Child (1996), Phantom Love (2007) and Dissolution (2010), which was filmed in black and white and is set in Israel. Her sister Tinka appears as an actress in many of them. Menkes teaches at the California Institute of the Arts in Santa Clarita, California. Several of her works were added to the Academy Film Archive.
Menkes was born in 1963 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.:82 In 1977 she took a BA from the University of California at Berkeley,:202 and in 1987 completed a Master of Fine Arts at the University of California at Los Angeles.:82 From 1985 to 1989 she taught in the film department of California State University, Northridge, and then, from 1990, at the California Institute of the Arts in Santa Clarita; she became an adjunct professor in film at the University of Southern California in the same year.:82
Films by Menkes include:
- A Soft Warrior, 1981, an eleven-minute short
- The Great Sadness of Zohara, 1983, which was first shown at the Melnitz Theatre of the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1984, and later in the same year at the Edinburgh International Film Festival and the Mannheim International Film Festival; also in 1984, it was awarded a special jury prize at the San Francisco International Film Festival and a silver medal at the Houston International Film Festival:82
- Magdalena Viraga, 1986, had its première at Film and Television Archives of the University of California, Los Angeles, and won the Best Independent-Experimental Film Award of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association; it was shown at the Festival du Nouveau Cinéma in Montreal in both 1986 and 1987, and at the Toronto International Film Festival and the Whitney Biennial in 1987.:83
- Queen of Diamonds, 1990, had its first showing in January 1991 at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, and in 1992 was shown at the Munich International Film Festival.:83 Tinka Menkes plays a croupier in a casino in the desert. It was restored by The Film Foundation and the American Film Institute in 2018, and was shown at the AFI Fest in November of that year.
- The Bloody Child, 1996, was based on a murder; it was the last film Menkes and her sister Tinka made together, and the last film she made for about ten years.
- Massacre (Massaker), 2005: camera, with co-directors Monika Borgmann, Lokman Slim, Hermann Theissen
- Phantom Love, 2007
- Dissolution (Hitparkut), 2010, was filmed in black and white and is set in Israel.
In 2018 Menkes presented an illustrated talk on "Sex and Power, the Visual Language of Oppression" in several venues, among them the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes and the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.
Menkes became a fellow of the American Film Institute in 1991. She received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1992,:82 and in 1993 was an artist-in-residence in Berlin under the DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Program.:82
She has been nominated for a number of awards, and has won:
- 1986, Los Angeles Film Critics Association, Independent/Experimental Film and Video Award for Magdalena Viraga
- 2005, Berlin International Film Festival, FIPRESCI Prize for Panorama for Massaker
- 2007, World Film Festival of Bangkok, Special Jury Prize for Phantom Love
- 2010, Jerusalem Film Festival, Anat Pirchi Award for Best Drama for Hitparkut.
In November 2019, Nina Menkes was awarded a “Trajectory in Cinema Award” (also known as a career achievement award) at the 34th Mar Del Plata Film Festival in Argentina. The Mar del Plata International Film Festival (Spanish: Festival Internacional de Cine de Mar del Plata) is an international film festival that takes place every November in the city of Mar del Plata, Argentina. It is the only competitive feature festival recognized by the FIAPF in Latin America, and the oldest in this category in the Americas. Past filmmaker recipients of this award include Lucretia Martel and Lisandro Alonso.
Based on Nina menkes’s talk, a new paradigm, known as "The Menkes List," has been created, highlighting camera techniques used to disenfranchise women onscreen.
- Richard Armstrong, Richard Marshall, Lisa Phillips, John G. Hanhardt (1987). Biennial 1987. New York: Whitney Museum of American Art; New York, London: W. W. Norton Company. ISBN 9780393304398.
- "Menkes, Nina. Appointed for film making". In: Elizabeth M. Gurl (editor) (1993). Reports of the President and of the Treasurer: 1992. John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.
- Dennis Lim (17 February 2012). "Retrospectives of the Filmmaker Nina Menkes". The New York Times.
- Jeannette Catsoulis (8 March 2012). Immersed in Anger and Smothered by Loneliness: ‘Dissolution,’ a Film Set in Israel by Nina Menkes. The New York Times. Archived 13 March 2012.
- AFI FEST Announces Cinema’s Legacy and Midnight Lineups. American Film Institute. Accessed May 2019.
- "Nina Menkes Collection". Academy Film Archive.
- "Massaker" (PDF). IFB2005. Retrieved 31 January 2017.
- Phil Coldiron (26 May 2011). Nina Menkes' Dissolution and Phantom Love. LA Weekly. Archived 23 June 2016.
- Robert Koehler (22 January 2007). Review: 'Phantom Love'. Variety. Archived 18 August 2018.
- Sex and Power, the Visual Language of Oppression. American Film Institute. Accessed June 2019.
- Nina Menkes. John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Accessed September 2018.
- Rithdee, Kong (5 November 2007). "'Import/Export' wins Bangkok fest 'Phantom Love' wins for artistic achievement". Variety. Retrieved 31 January 2017.
- "Cinemad: podcast #1: Nina Menkes". Cinemad.iblamesociety.com. 3 October 2008. Retrieved 13 December 2012.
- Bérénice Reynaud (16 March 2008). "Nina Menkes: The Warrior and her Jiang Hu". Senses of Cinema. Retrieved 13 December 2012.
- Thomas, Kevin (7 September 2000). "Going Really Big - Los Angeles Times". Articles.latimes.com. Retrieved 13 December 2012.
- David E. James (16 March 2008). "Interview with Nina Menkes". Senses of Cinema. Retrieved 13 December 2012.
- "Transfax Film Productions – The Movie "Dissolution"". Transfax.co.il. 29 August 2012. Retrieved 13 December 2012.
- "Far from Paradise: Nina Menkes' Queen of Diamonds". Cinemascope. 31 December 2019. Retrieved 31 December 2019.
- "EXCLUSIVE: NINA MENKES' QUEEN OF DIAMONDS RESTORATION GETS A NEW TRAILER FROM ARBELOS". FilmFoundation.org. 19 April 2019. Retrieved 31 December 2019.