Regarding Susan Sontag

REGARDING SUSAN SONTAG is an intimate and nuanced investigation into the life of one of the most influential and provocative thinkers of the 20th century. Endlessly curious, passionate and gracefully outspoken throughout her career, Susan Sontag became one of the most important literary, political and feminist icons of her generation. This beautifully constructed documentary tracks Sontag’s life through evocative experimental images, archival materials, accounts from friends, family, colleagues, and lovers, as well as her own words as read by Patricia Clarkson. From her early infatuation with books to her first experience in a gay bar; from her early marriage to her 15-year relationship with legendary photographer Annie Leibovitz, REGARDING SUSAN SONTAG is a fascinating look at a towering cultural critic and writer whose works on photography, war, illness, and terrorism continue to resonate today. REGARDING SUSAN SONTAG premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and was broadcast nationwide on HBO.
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Ni Aquí, Ni Allá (Neither Here, Nor There)

NI AQUI, NI ALLA illuminates the challenges facing an undocumented college student and her family. Blanca, a second-year student at the University of California, Berkeley, crossed the border from Mexico into the United States with her parents when she was a child. As a student under the California DREAM Act who possess DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), Blanca qualifies for financial aid and has temporary protection from deportation, though her undocumented parents, who live and work in California's agricultural Central Valley, do not. NI AQUI, NI ALLA paints an intimate portrait of an undocumented family as they support each other during a turning point in their lives and stay together through the distance. At a time in this country’s history where the debate around immigration is highly contested and demands to close the border are in the daily news, NEITHER HERE, NOR THERE paints a very human face on an issue that many use simply as partisan, political fodder. Essential viewing for Anthropology, Sociology and Multicultural and Immigration Studies.
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Suzy Lake: Playing with Time

Photographer Suzy Lake is one of the formative feminist artists to evolve out of the heyday of the 1960’s and the Second Wave. A master of the art of self-portraiture, Lake influenced Cindy Sherman as well as a host of other female artists. Lake makes art that address politics, gender, youth, beauty and aging while reflecting on her own journey through time. SUZY LAKE: PLAYING WITH TIME tells the story of how much has changed in the worlds of feminism and art, and yet how much things remain the same. Filming for almost 4 years, filmmaker Annette Mangaard weaves a powerful portrait of the complex artist by juxtaposing powerful archival footage, still photography and interviews with Lucy Lippard, Mary Beth Edelson and Martha Wilson among others. SUZY LAKE: PLAYING WITH TIME delves into Lake’s legacy as she continues to explore the politics of gender with work that deals with the aging woman, countering notions of consumer beauty with a different and real image, celebrating stamina, maturity and experience. An essential companion piece to any discussion on the Second Wave, feminism and art.
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Playing With Fire: Women Actors Of Afghanistan

In Afghanistan, women deciding to be actors make a dangerous choice. Banned under Taliban rule (1994-2001), Afghan theater is experiencing a comeback with many women at the forefront. But with powerful forces of Islamic fundamentalism, a resurgent Taliban, and patriarchal traditions in play, actresses often face the harshest criticism and are even sometimes viewed as prostitutes. Socially ostracized, and pressured to abandon their careers, they receive beatings and death threats for them and their family. Some are forced to flee the country and some are even killed. PLAYING WITH FIRE introduces us to six courageous Afghan women who share their passions for acting, dreams, and difficult realities. They include Sajida, a student targeted by extremists; Monirah, besieged co-founder of an innovative women’s theater troupe; Tahera, forced into exile because of award-winning work at a theater festival; Roya, whose TV career brings her constant harassment; and Leena and Breshna, unprotected by their stage and motion picture fame. Filmmaker Anneta Papathanassiou exposes pervasive erosions of Afghan women’s rights. Her timely, eye-opening documentary perfectly captures art’s transformative power and the dangers these courageous women face to do the work they love.
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Inside Her Sex

While we live in a highly sexualized society, the messaging around female sexuality is distorted and rife with shame. What women should look like, who women should want, what women should desire...in fact, who women should be, is dictated to us from screens and pages and people. INSIDE HER SEX is a thought-provoking, feature-length documentary that explores female sexuality and shame through the eyes and experiences of three women from different walks of life, each brave enough to chart her own course of sexual discovery: Elle Chase, a popular sex blogger, Candida Royalle, the creator of Femme Productions Inc., a feminist, adult film company designed to speak with a woman’s voice and Samantha Allen, the ex-devout Mormon and current gender, sex, and tech writer for The Daily Beast. Through varied, candid and intensely personal interviews, INSIDE HER SEX will delve to the core of these three women and their sexuality, beginning a much needed conversation around female sexuality and shame. Essential viewing for Gender and Sexuality Studies.
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Life After Manson

Life After Manson is an intimate portrait of one of the world’s most infamous crimes and notorious killers. At 21 years old, Patricia Krenwinkel callously murdered three people at the command of Charles Manson. Now 66 years old, she continues to be demonized by the public and haunted by the suffering she caused over four decades ago. Through an exclusive interview with and never before seen footage of Krenwinkel, filmmaker Olivia Klaus (SIN BY SILENCE), frames a historically irreconcilable story through a complex emotional lens, offering insight into what led a suburban girl to commit crimes the world will never forget. A provocative and powerful character study, LIFE AFTER MANSON reveals a broken woman struggling with her past, her arduous effort to evaluate the cost of her choices, and the possibility of self-forgiveness.
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Golden Gate Girls

In GOLDEN GATE GIRLS author and professor S. Louisa Wei tells the story of filmmaker Esther Eng, the first woman to direct Chinese-language film in the US, and the most prominent woman director in Hong Kong in the 1930’s. A San Francisco native and open lesbian, her contribution to film history is sadly overlooked – her 11 feature films mostly lost. After the retirement of director Dorothy Arzner in 1943 and before Ida Lupino began directing in 1949, Eng was the only woman directing feature length films in the US. Wei’s documentary paints a fascinating picture of how Eng’s career in filmmaking broke through gender and racial boundaries in Hollywood and Hong Kong, at a time when opportunities for Chinese women in the industry were few and far between. With a captivating archive of newly discovered images and interviews with those who knew her, Wei uncovers a rich chapter of film history that challenges both gender hierarchies and national narratives. Essential viewing for Cinema Studies and Asian American Studies.
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LaDonna Harris: Indian 101

LADONNA HARRIS: INDIAN 101 from Comanche filmmaker Julianna Brannum, chronicles the life of Comanche activist and national civil rights leader LaDonna Harris and the role that she has played in Native and mainstream America history since the 1960s. In this new verite style documentary, Brannum, the great niece of Harris, celebrates her life and the personal struggles that led her to become a voice for Native people and her contemporary work to strengthen and rebuild indigenous communities and train emerging Native leaders around the world. Harris’s activism began in Oklahoma, fighting segregation and assisting grassroots Native and women’s groups. In Washington LaDonna introduced landmark programs and legislation returning territory to tribes, improving education and healthcare for Native Americans, ending job discrimination against women, and targeting other pressing issues of the time. For over three decades, “Indian 101,” her course for legislators, combatted ignorance about America’s most marginalized population. Using interviews, archival footage and photographs, this film justly celebrates one of the most important women leaders in Native American and U.S. history.
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Feminism Inshallah: A History Of Arab Feminism

The struggle for Muslim women’s emancipation is often portrayed stereotypically as a showdown between Western and Islamic values, but Arab feminism has existed for more than a century. This groundbreaking documentary recounts Arab feminism’s largely unknown story, from its taboo-shattering birth in Egypt by feminist pioneers up through viral Internet campaigns by today’s tech-savvy young activists during the Arab Spring. Moving from Tunisia to Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia, filmmaker and author Feriel Ben Mahmoud tracks the progress of Arab women in their long march to assert their full rights and achieve empowerment. Featuring previously unreleased archival footage and exclusive multigenerational interviews, FEMINISM INSHALLAH is an indispensable resource for Women’s Studies, Global Feminism, Middle East and Islamic Studies.
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Six Days: Three Activists, Three Wars, One Dream

This inspiring documentary, which follows three brave human rights defenders in Liberia, Abkhazia, Georgia and Iraq over six days, gives insight into the everyday struggle to improve the situation of women worldwide. SIX DAYS shines a necessary light on some of the most urgent and important human rights issues facing women today: girls education, honor killings, bride kidnappings and women’s health issues. Giving refuge and voice to women beaten, burned and threatened with death by their families, journalist Lanja, fearlessly challenges honor killings and domestic violence in Iraq’s Kurdish region. Nelly runs a cooperative and shelter in Monrovia, Liberia’s slums so that impoverished women can learn to read and earn money for their families. And in the breakaway republic of Abkhazia, Georgia, Maia, director of a women’s health group fighting for women’s sexual rights, brings medical care to women and girls in remote Caucasus villages while battling “bride kidnappings” and other archaic customs that lead to forced marriage. As it follows these three remarkable women, thousands of miles apart, SIX DAYS bears witness to their unwavering, shared commitment to women’s education, empowerment and dreams of a better life. An important film for those who wish to understand the challenges facing women in developing countries around the world and how feminism continues to help improve womens’ lives.
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Sound of Torture

Since 2006 when Europe closed its borders, human trafficking has burgeoned in Egypt’s Sinai Desert, where Eritrean asylum seekers and refugees heading north to Israel are kidnapped, held hostage, and tortured by Bedouin smugglers demanding exorbitant ransoms for their freedom. Fleeing an oppressive military dictatorship at home, with a “shoot-to-kill” policy at the border and where only pregnant women are exempted from service, over 300,000 Eritreans have fled their homeland in North Africa. Many of these men, women and children die in Sinai’s torture camps. This powerful documentary intimately follows Swedish-Eritrean journalist Meron Estefanos and her efforts to aid the hostages and their families. From Stockholm she runs a popular online radio show, fielding calls for help from Eritrean victims and their relatives. Her activism takes her to Israel and Egypt’s Sinai Desert to seek the release of a badly abused young woman held captive with her baby and to search for another who disappeared along the Egyptian-Israeli border after her ransom had been paid. Both eloquent and harrowing, SOUND OF TORTURE spotlights one of today’s most underreported human rights violations and the one woman who is making it her mission to create change.
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Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth

ALICE WALKER: BEAUTY IN TRUTH tells the compelling story of an extraordinary woman. Alice Walker made history as the first black woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for her groundbreaking novel, The Color Purple. Her early life unfolded in the midst of violent racism and poverty during some of the most turbulent years of profound social and political changes in North American history during the Civil Rights Movement. Mixing powerful archival footage with moving testimonials from friends and colleagues such as Howard Zinn, Angela Y. Davis, Gloria Steinem, Beverly Guy-Sheftall, Quincy Jones, Steven Spielberg and Danny Glover, ALICE WALKER: BEAUTY IN TRUTH offers audiences a penetrating look at the life and art of an artist, intellectual, self-confessed renegade and human rights activist.
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Light Fly, Fly High

Thulasi, a young Indian woman in her twenties, is literally willing to box her way out of poverty and into a better life. A Dalit or “untouchable” born outside of caste, she rejected her place on society’s lowest rung at an early age and was forced to leave her parents’ home when only 14. Ten years later, despite her impressive record in the ring, ranking 3rd in India’s Light Fly category, Thulasi remains stuck at the bottom, deprived of opportunities she rightly deserves. Despite an uphill battle against sexual harassment, poverty and the pressure to marry, Thulasi refuses to compromise herself and her goals and takes her destiny into her own hands. Filmed during three eventful years, LIGHT FLY, FLY HIGH is a beautifully shot, gripping and inspirational story of a courageous young woman who refuses to be anyone’s victim and ends up a hero of her own making against all odds.
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Kismet

Wildly popular at home, Turkish soap operas have taken the world by storm with more than 300 million viewers in 80 countries across the Middle East, North Africa, the Balkans, and Asia. With unprecedented access, KISMET delves into this phenomenon, weaving together excerpts from the major shows including interviews with their talent and the writers, producers and directors behind the scenes—primarily made up of women—and portraits of the everyday viewers in Turkey, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Bulgaria, and Greece. Exploring how the serials captivate, inspire and empower women, the film reveals how the soaps impact and break down negative stereotypes and traditional taboos. The soaps openly discuss rape, sexual and domestic violence, child and arranged marriages, and honor killings while also sparking change in gender relationships, activism against sexual abuse, and a wave of divorce across the Middle East. Invaluable for studies in media and popular culture, KISMET discloses how profoundly Turkish soaps penetrate viewers’ social and religious realities while empowering and helping women to transform their lives and strengthen the debate about women’s rights across the region.
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It Was Rape

U.S. sexual assault statistics are startling—and have remained unchanged for decades. The latest White House Council on Women and Girls report reveals that nearly one in five women experiences rape or attempted rape in her lifetime. Among college student victims, who have some of the highest rates of sexual assault, just 12 percent report incidents to law enforcement officials. In earlier studies, 15% of sexual assault victims were younger than 13; 93% of juvenile victims knew their attacker. IT WAS RAPE gives human faces and voices to statistics, breaking through the silence, denial and victim blaming that allow an epidemic to thrive. Eight women of different backgrounds, ages and ethnicities relate personal stories of surviving sexual assault in their younger years, as well as their struggles toward healing, empowerment, and finally speaking out. By award-winning feminist author, filmmaker and activist Jennifer Baumgardner, this strikingly relevant documentary will engage all audiences in needed dialogue about the prevalence of sexual assaults in the U.S., at our schools and colleges, and the elements promoting rape culture on and off campus. IT WAS RAPE is a crucial resource for colleges and communities to meaningfully address Title IX issues around sexual violence.
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The Mosuo Sisters

A tale of two sisters living in the shadow of two Chinas, this documentary by award-winning filmmaker Marlo Poras (Mai’s America; Run Granny Run) follows Juma and Latso, young women from one of the world’s last remaining matriarchal societies. Thrust into the worldwide economic downturn after losing jobs in Beijing and left with few options, they return to their remote Himalayan village. But growing exposure to modernity has irreparably altered traditions of the Mosuo, their tiny ethnic miniority, and home is not the same. Determined to keep their family out of poverty, one sister sacrifices her educational dreams and stays home to farm, while the other leaves, trying her luck in the city. The changes test them in unexpected ways. This visually stunning film highlights today’s realities of women’s lives and China’s vast cultural and economic divides while offering rare views of a surviving matriarchy.
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How to Lose Your Virginity

Female virginity. The US government has spent 1.5 billion dollars promoting it. It has fetched $750,000 at auction. There is no official medical definition for it. And 50 years after the sexual revolution, it continues to define young women’s morality and self-worth. This hilarious, eye-opening, occasionally alarming documentary uses the filmmaker’s own path out of virginity to explore its continuing value in our otherwise hypersexualized society. Layering vérité interviews and vintage sex-ed films with candid self-reflection and wry narration, Shechter reveals myths, dogmas and misconceptions behind this "precious gift." Sex educators, porn producers, abstinence advocates, and outspoken teens share their own stories of having - or not having - sex. In a culture where "Be sexy, but don’t have sex" is the overwhelming message to young women, the film goes through the looking glass to understand a milestone almost everyone thinks about but no one actually understands.
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Derby Crazy Love

This popular documentary from Toronto filmmakers Maya Gallus and Justine Pimlott takes viewers inside the adrenaline-fueled phenomenon of women’s roller derby. With over 1,400 leagues worldwide, it is now the fastest growing women’s sport. DERBY CRAZY LOVE accompanies Montreal’s top team, New Skids on the Block, on its exhilarating journey to regional championships, where they face off in a pitched battle against U.K. powerhouse, London Rollergirls, and reigning world champions, New York’s Gotham Girls. New Skids players and their British and U.S. rivals share stories of being powerful women in traditional sports, along with insights about derby’s recent rebirth, after decades of decline, as a vibrant, original expression of third wave feminism and Amazon-like physicality rooted in punk’s colorful DIY counterculture. Deftly tackling issues of masculinity, femininity, aggression, body image, queer identity and gender norms, this fast-paced yet reflective film captures the spirit of community, inclusiveness, and sisterhood at roller derby’s core today.
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Surviving the Tsunami - My Atomic Aunt

Film director Kyoko Miyake remembered Namie, a fishing village ravaged by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear catastrophe, as her childhood paradise. Revisiting her family’s hometown after 10 years abroad, Miayke’s multilayered documentary examines the disaster’s profound personal, social and environmental impact. While Namie’s younger generations have permanently relocated elsewhere, Miyake’s Aunt Kuniko, like other older residents, has clung to dreams of eventually returning to her home. Over the course of a year, Miyake follows this warm, indomitable businesswoman as she recalls happy family memories and strives to adapt to life outside the contamination zone. In the process, Kuniko starts questioning her unconditional trust in Fukushima’s plant operators and pro-nuclear past in a community that once hoped to house a nuclear power station. A timely reminder of Fukushima’s continuing meltdown, this insightful, often funny film offers fresh perspectives on Japanese national identity and today’s most pressing global concerns around nuclear energy.
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The Motherhood Archives

Archival montage, science fiction and an homage to 1970s feminist filmmaking are woven together to form this haunting and lyrical essay film excavating hidden histories of childbirth in the twentieth century. After several years of buying films online and working in historical archives, award-winning filmmaker Irene Lusztig amassed an unusual and fascinating collection of found footage aimed at teaching women how to be pregnant, give birth, and look after babies, along with training films for obstetricians and health care professionals, and a handful of home movies. Assembling her extraordinary trove from over 100 different sources, including newly rediscovered Soviet and French childbirth material tracing the evolution of Lamaze, THE MOTHERHOOD ARCHIVES inventively untangles the complex, sometimes surprising genealogies of maternal education. This extraordinary achievement illuminates our changing narratives of maternal success and failure while raising important questions about our social and historical constructions of motherhood.
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Feminist: Stories From Women’s Liberation

Structured as a personal journey of rediscovery by filmmaker Jennifer Lee, this documentary brings the momentous first decade of secondwave feminism vividly to life. Its trajectory starts with the earliest stirrings in 1963 and ends with the movement’s full blossoming in 1970—from the Presidential Commission’s report on widespread discrimination against women and publication of Betty Friedan’s Feminine Mystique up through radical feminists’ takeover of the Statue of Liberty and Friedan’s calls for a women’s strike for equality. A wealth of period footage captures landmark events and the pivotal roles of the National Organization for Women (NOW), the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC), the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Redstockings, and other organizations. Thirty-five diverse interviewees, including rank-and-file activists along with well-known feminists Betty Friedan, Frances M. Beale, Gloria Steinem, Robin Morgan, Ti-Grace Atkinson, and others, share memories of the period as well as issues and challenges that still resonate today. A great introduction to Women’s Studies and critical viewing for historians and academics interested in feminism, activism and the Women’s Movement.
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