Balkan Dox

Her Socialist Smile

United States
2020 — 93 min / Colour and B&W



An experimental documentary essay on the political imagination of iconic humanitarian, author, and advocate for the blind Helen Keller. World famous by the age of 8 for having learned how to read and communicate through the finger alphabet, indelibly dramatized in William Gibson’s play The Miracle Worker, Helen Keller (1880-1968) remained for the course of her 87 years the most revered blind-deaf woman on the planet. Largely omitted or minimized within the voluminous literature her life generated however was the fact that Keller had become, by time she reached her thirties, a committed believer in the principles of Socialism. The product of years of research, Her Socialist Smile resurrects the radical Keller, serving as a rousing reminder that Keller’s undaunted activism for labor rights, pacifism, and women’s suffrage was philosophically inseparable from her battles for the rights of the disabled.

Official Trailer

Directors' Biography

John Gianvito is a director, teacher, and curator, based in Boston, Massachusetts. His films have screened widely and have included the Toronto International Film Festival, Rotterdam International Film Festival, Locarno Film Festival, FID Marseille, BAFICI, London Film Festival, the Museum of Modern Art (NY), Centre Pompidou, Cinematheque Francaise, the Tate Modern, and Pacific Film Archives. Retrospectives of his work have been presented at the VIENNALE Film Festival, the I Mille Occhi Festival, Cinéma du Réel, and Seoul Independent Documentary Festival.

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John Gianvito


John Gianvito


John Gianvito


John Gianvito

Eric P. Gulliver


Pierre Huberson

Screenings & Awards

New York FF, United States, 2020

VIENNALE, Austria, 2020

Hot Docs, Canada, 2020

Cinéma du réel, France, 2021