In 1971 Loden wrote, directed, edited and starred in the independent film "Wanda," becoming the first woman director of a theatrically released feature film since Ida Lupino. Based on an actual newspaper account and shot in 16mm, "Wanda" won critical praise for its gritty, unromanticized portrait of a listless working-class woman who drifts into becoming the accomplice to a bank robber. The film also fueled heated arguments as to whether it was a progressive tract or an anti-feminist statement. The only American feature entered in the 1971 Venice Festival, "Wanda" won the International Critics Prize. Though her self-confidence was allegedly undermined by Kazan's lack of faith in her ability as a filmmaker, Loden nonetheless planned to film Kate Chopin's novella "The Awakening" before she succumbed to breast cancer at the age of 48.