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THURSDAY

The plastic food container is one of those peculiar entities—like dirt, dogs, and television—that seem as if they must have always just been. But, in fact, as Laurie Kahn-Leavitt’s documentary Tupperware! exclaims, there once was a time when America’s women had to be convinced that the holes in their lives were shaped like plastic bowls. The convincing was to be done at something called a Tupperware party (pictured). The T-party—which is, in many ways, not a party as I understand them—is kind of a cross between an infomercial and a Moonie wedding (if Moonie weddings featured burping housewares instead of grooms). As seen in the loads of great-looking footage that Kahn-Leavitt has unearthed for Tupperware!, the ritual is performed by a proselytizer who soft-sells nothing less than the American Dream. Kahn-Leavitt argues that the in-home entrepreneurship opportunities provided by the Tupperware party allowed for the nonthreatening de-mystique-ification of many a ’50s housewife, a concept personified by the party’s inventor, über-Tupperware-slinger Brownie Wise. Not only was Brownie Wise named Brownie Wise (which should be enough for at least a small footnote in history), she was a Martha Stewart before there was a Martha Stewart. It was Wise who took Tupperware out of the hands of pie-in-the-sky inventor Earl Tupper and put it into our cupboards. I just wish that Earl and Brownie had teamed up to promote another of Mr. Tupper’s inventions: the fish-powered boat. Tupperware! screens as part of the American Film Institute’s Silverdocs series (see Showtimes for a complete schedule of screenings) at 2:15 p.m. Thursday, June 19, at the AFI’s Silver Theatre and Cultural Center, 8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring. $8.50. (301) 495-6700. (Josh Levin)