Steele's shorts A Very Personal Story and Talking Tongues preceded the showing of The Gloria Tapes. Steele portrays the characters in all three films. A Very Personal Story depicts a young woman’s experience of discovering her dead mother in the 1960s. In Talking Tongues, Steele acts as Beatrice Small, a mother who tries to escape from her abusive husband. The films’ storylines are intriguing and captivating, and the directing and acting enhanced the overall presentation of the shorts.
The Gloria Tapes consists of a four-part series focused on the life of a mother on welfare. Steele moved to Toronto from Kansas City in her early 20s, and she spent over 10 years working at Interval House, a women and children’s shelter that influenced the characters in the film series.
The film highlights Gloria’s experience living on welfare while also depicting her relationships with her sexually abusive father and apathetic boyfriend. The film takes viewers through Gloria’s journey of becoming a mother and the obstacles she endures while adapting to her new role. Gloria maintains regular contact with her social worker and receives help on how to properly care for her child. Gloria eventually receives a letter that informs her she has to go to court to fight for the custody of her child, which progresses the story. Gloria attempts to navigate the welfare system and discovers she is pregnant with her second child.
The plots and storylines of the works are the main elements that enhanced the films. Because these events took place nearly 40 years ago, the quality of the footage is poor and not up to date with modern cinematography.
A few events in The Gloria Tapes were hard to digest due to the lack of editing and the strong presence of background noise. The cinematography techniques did not benefit the presentation of the films, but the storytelling aspects of the film significantly contributed to the success of the pieces.
Lisa Steele’s works examine and analyze the roles of women in the 20th century as well as their involvement with the government. Although the narratives and themes are compelling, the outdated cinematography makes it difficult to compare them with more modern works.