Grace Paley:
Collected Shorts

USA, 2010, 74 minutes, Color
Directed by Lilly Rivlin

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Public Exhibition Formats: Beta, DVD

"So good is this new work—so immediate, enthralling, moving and funny—that it will probably create a bunch of new Paley fans... Every moment in the film is alive and rich—just like Grace..."
-James Van Maanen, TrustMovies


Lilly Rivlin’s intimate documentary is a rich, inspiring portrait of writer, activist and New York icon Grace Paley (1922-2007). Paley’s acclaimed first short story collection, The Little Disturbances of Man, established her reputation with its brilliantly sad and funny chronicles of Jewish American urban females much like herself. Paley’s New York tales, filled with an emotional and sexual frankness especially bold at the tail end of the frightened 1950s, soon became classics of the short fiction form. Not content to rest on her laurels, however, Paley combined her evolving literary career with passionate pursuit of her political concerns through the 1960s, 70s and 80s. “Art is too long and life is too short,” wrote the outspoken Paley, “There’s a lot more to do in life than writing.” Indeed, she spent the rest of her life on the front lines of the anti-war and women’s movements, where she endured being arrested time and again. Rivlin’s film confidently juggles all aspects of Paley’s extraordinary story, told in candid recollections and passionate readings by Paley herself, along with fond remembrances by literary critics, family and writer-friends Allan Gurganas and Alice Walker. Throughout, Grace Paley: Collected Shorts casts an important and penetrating light on a brilliant and highly principled woman who constantly reinvented both her life and art. (Thomas Logoreci, SFJFF)

Paley’s life illuminates the major protest movements of the latter part of the 20th century, culminating in the feminist movement, regarded by some social theorists as the most important movement of those turbulent times. Translated into 92 languages, Paley was New York’s first official state author and past poet laureate of Vermont. Ranked among the great writers of her generation by peers like Philip Roth, Paley combined a life as a master short story writer, compared to Chekhov, with political activism, motherhood, and being a cherished friend. The film will take us into her early life. Grace was the child of Russian Jewish refugees who’d fled oppression for the freedom of America. They were Socialists who instilled in her a passion for social justice. Her talent for writing poetry was encouraged by W.H. Auden with whom she studied. Grace taught creative writing for twenty-two years at Sarah Lawrence College where she was a major influence on her students. Many went on to become successful authors. She also instilled in them a passion for political activism which is an equally important part of her legacy.


BEST DOCUMENTARY LA Film, TV and New Media Festival (2012)
BEST DOCUMENTARY New York International Film Festival (2011)
BEST DOCUMENTARY- AUDIENCE AWARD New York International Film Festival (2011)
"BEST OF FEST" Palm Springs International Film Festival (2011)
BEST DOCUMENTARY- AUDIENCE AWARD Washington Jewish Film Festival (2010)
BEST DOCUMENTARY- AUDIENCE AWARD Woodstock International Film Festival (2010)

Selected Screenings

Women’s Studies Research Center Film Series/ Brandeis University (2016)
Jewish Women's Film Festival (2014)
Oklahoma Jewish Film Festival (2014)
LA Film, TV and Webisode Festival (2012)
Pioneer Valley Jewish Film Festival (2012)
Schenectady JCC Film Festival (2012)
Farthest North Jewish Film Festival (2012)
New York International Independent Film and Video Festival (2011)
Jacksonville Film Festival (2011)
Jewish Book & Arts Fair; Houston, TX (2011)
Palm Beach Jewish Film Festival (2011)
Lenore Marwil Jewish Film Festival (2011)
Toronto Jewish Film Festival (2011)
Sarasota Film Festival (2011)
Northwest Film Center Jewish Film Festival (2011)
Westchester Jewish Film Festival (2011)
San Diego Jewish Film Festival (2011)
Jewishfilm.2011 NCJF's 14th Annual Film Festival (2011)
Minneapolis Jewish Film Festival (2011)
Palm Springs International Film Festival (2011)
New York Jewish Film Festival (2011)
Washington Jewish Film Festival (2010)
Jerusalem Jewish Film Festival (2010)
Starz Denver Film Festival (2010)
EAST COAST PREMIERE Woodstock Film Festival (2010)
WORLD PREMIERE San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, 2010 - DIRECTOR PRESENT
Screening July 25 at the Castro Theatre & Aug 1 at Berkeley’s Roda Theatre

Critical Acclaim

"The film is absolutely beautiful--beautifully made, full of soul, a wonderful visual biography."
- Judith Thurman, author of Isak Dinesen: The Life of a Storyteller (National Book Award for Non-Fiction)

"If anyone explored identity and community with vigor and joy, it was the short story author Grace Paley, who died in 2007. In the documentary Grace Paley: Collected Shorts, Lilly Rivlin creates a lively, affectionate tribute to Paley as a writer, mother, leftist, daughter of the Bronx, feminist, teacher, wife, pacifist, troublemaker - who was, incidentally, Jewish. Paley helped forge new possibilities for women when she published the collection "The Little Disturbances of Man" in 1959. With lines like "There's a whole college of feeling between my corset and me," she made her own immigrant Bronx vernacular worthy of literary respect, and later had the guts to call out Norman Mailer when he organized a scandalously sexist PEN conference."
- Ann Hornaday, Washington Post

Home Use DVD: $29.95

Does not include Classroom or Library Use Rights or Public Performance Rights. More Information


Classroom/Library Use DVD: $195

Does not include Public Performance Rights. More Information

Digital Site Licensing (DSL) available - Contact us

Step down pricing for K-12 & public libraries may be available - Contact us

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Special Offer

Save 25% on Grace Paley: Collected Shorts when you purchase it as part of the
New Films: Women's Studies 6 DVD Set
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