Now Film/Video | Documentaries | The Box | Exhibitions

Margaret Lazarus

Before It Kills Us All (2020)

Stream | World Premiere

This month The Box premieres Before It Kills Us All, the latest work by Academy Award–winning producer, filmmaker, and activist Margaret Lazarus. The experimental video uses mostly found footage to trace a worldwide history of violence alongside a parallel narrative of women’s resistance and resilience.

Lazarus has dedicated her career to combining documentary filmmaking and political activism, making films that explore a wide range of social justice and women's issues. Her short film Defending Our Lives, a documentary made with her partner Renner Wunderlich, about women incarcerated for killing their abusers, won an Academy Award in 1994.

Divided into three sections, Before It Kills Us All begins with a gruesome chronicle of violence—from the horrors of war to police violence against Black and Brown bodies to the willful destruction of our planet and its wildlife—all wrought by the hands of men. The middle section offers a counterpoint in the form of historical footage of women’s resistance including protesting suffragettes, women in Liberia who demonstrated to end the country’s civil wars, a Women’s March on Washington, and even a section from the subversive 1968 film The Girls by Mai Zetterling. In the third and final section, Lazarus offers the possibility of hope as traditional, male-dominated power structures are replaced by communities that nurture and value empathy. Throughout the work, which is intended to be a multichannel installation, Lazarus weaves images of dance, including footage of pioneering dancer and choreographer Anna Halprin, as a metaphor for healing and an expression of the human potential to change. (video, 16:41 mins.)

Watch a recent conversation between Lazarus and Ohio State Associate Professor and Roy Lichtenstein Chair of Studio Art Carmen Winant filmed on the occasion of this screening.

A woman in a white leotard stands in the center of the frame in front of a projected background

Before It Kills Us All, image courtesy of the artist

On top of a hill overlooking a cityscape, three young women in pink tutus lift another young woman in a pink tutu above their heads. To the far right another young woman in a pink tutu stands looking ahead.

Before It Kills Us All, image courtesy of the artist

A group of three shirtless women stand together speaking through megaphones

Before It Kills Us All, image courtesy of the artist

More about the artist

Margaret Lazarus chevron-down chevron-up

In addition to being a documentary film director and producer, Lazarus is the executive director of Cambridge Documentary Films. Her films also include Taking Our Bodies Back: The Women’s Health Movement (1974), the first film to explore this subject; Rape Culture (1975); Killing Us Softly (1979); Pink Triangles: A Film About Homophobia (1982); The Last Empire: Intervention and Nuclear War (1986); Strong at the Broken Places: Turning Trauma into Recovery (1998); The Strength to Resist: Media’s Impact on Women & Girls (2001); Rape is (2003), and BirthMarkings (2010), about women’s postbirth bodies, among many others. Lazarus has coauthored the “Violence Against Women” chapter in many editions of Our Bodies, Ourselves and is an educator and peer counselor in the struggle against violence against women, children, and oppressed groups.

Greater Columbus Arts Council
American Electric Power Foundation
L Brands Foundation
The Columbus Foundation
Ohio Arts Council
Institute of Museum and Library Services
Huntington Bank
Nationwide Foundation

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams
Kaufman Development
Cardinal Health Foundation


Now Film/Video

Margaret Lazarus