They Are Their Own Gifts

A film by Lucille Rhodes and Margaret Murphy

1978 | 52 minutes | Color | 16mm/DVD | Order No. 99440


A three volume set of film portraits--Muriel Rukeyser, Alice Neel and Anna Sokolow. The poetry, painting, and dance of these three women is not artistic purism, but the product of a life conducted within social fabric.

Through interviews, photographs and her own poetry readings, Muriel Rukeyser is shown as a civil rights and political activist. "This film shows beautifully how Rukeyser's courageous and independent life and her fierce and compassionate lyricism are forged to make the long poem that is her life." --Galen Williams, Executive Director, Poets and Writers.

Portrait painter Alice Neel has created a psychological and spiritual history of the modern era, as it has been registered in the human face. "A dazzling portrait of an exuberant and vivacious painter." --Dr. Joyce Rosa, Professor of Art History, Long Island University.

Anna Sokolow's choreography and dance draws on her early life experience with poverty and oppression. "Modern dance was originally an expression of social concern. This film illuminates both a period that needs to be recalled and a leading choreographer who grew out of that period." --Anna Kisselgoff, dance critic, New York Times.


"Remarkable women--this film holds appeal for women's studies classes and for senior citizens, and patrons of American arts in public libraries and community groups."



  • New York Film Festival
  • Chicago Film Festival, Gold Plaque in History and Biography


Margaret Murphy

Margaret Murphy is a three time Emmy Award winning producer, writer and editor. She began her career as a member of the original staff of Sesame Street and went on to produce children’s programs for ABC, Nickelodeon and Scholastic. She received a Video of the Year Grammy Award nomination for Fun and Games, one of the first interactive videodiscs for children. She has been a producer for ABC News’ Nightline where she received an Emmy for coverage of the first Gulf War, NBC’s Dateline and has produced and written many hours for the A&E Biography series as well as programs for the History, Travel and Discovery Channels. She has been a producer and editor for ABC’s Wide World of Sports and the PBS series Smithsonian World winning Emmys for both programs. Recently, she served as Supervising Film Editor for the feature film, "Proud" starring Ossie Davis and was Consulting Producer for "Can You Hear Me". Ms. Murphy’s independent films including "They Are Their Own Gifts" have been honored at the New York, Tribeca, Edinburgh, Berlin and Chicago Film Festivals and she has been a recipient of grants from the National Endowment and NYSCA. She was born in the Bronx, New York and educated at Fordham University and the Neighborhood Playhouse. (03/12)

Lucille Rhodes

Lucille Rhodes is a Professor Emeritus of Long Island University having Chaired and taught at the Department of Theatre and Film. In the course of her film career she produced/directed/edited films for Sesame Street, Bravo and WNET and worked as a film editor on Norman Mailer’s feature film, Maidstone and Peter Gimbel’s feature documentary Blue Water/White Death. Her film on poet, Muriel Rukeyser premiered at the New York Film Festival and she has received numerous awards for her documentaries and film script, Nealy Hollow. Before her career in film, she served as Visual Arts Associate at the New York State Council on the Arts and assisted in the formation of the Kentucky Arts Commission. Her still photographs have appeared in galleries on the cover of the Saturday Review, and Dance Magazine and other publications. She has recently taught documentary film production and editing at Universities in China and Latvia and produced films for environmental organization of the material advocacy in Mexico and Latvia. (8/14)

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